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Real Estate Weekly – 3/21/14

Three families receive Habitat Chesapeake homes

Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake, in partnership with Bank of America, turned over the keys to three renovated houses to their new owners on Thursday. The homes were donated by Bank of America as part of a national partnership with Habitat for Humanity International, through which the bank will donate up to 2,000 vacant properties for renovation or reconstruction over a three-year period. Local Bank of America volunteers joined the effort to help rehab the donated homes. David Millman, Bank of America’s Maryland and Baltimore market president said, “Our donation of these three homes is an investment in the Baltimore community and helps Habitat Chesapeake provide affordable housing to deserving families.” The homes are not given away; homeowners must earn the opportunity to purchase their home with a 30-year, interest-free mortgage set at 30 percent of their income. Habitat for Humanity requires candidates to put in 250 hours of “sweat equity” and complete an intensive, 50-hour Homebuyer Academy course before becoming homeowners.

Buyer’s Edge unveils real estate mobile app

Buyer’s Edge, a Bethesda-based exclusive buyer brokerage firm, has introduced a free mobile app that allows users to browse homes, condos and townhomes available in communities in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Prospective homebuyers can view Multiple Listing Service listings anytime, anywhere, from any smart phone. The Home Search Mobile App allows searches by community, price and property type within a 5-mile radius of the user’s current location. Detailed property information, including price, beds/baths, taxes, estimated mortgage, interior and exterior features and photos are available for viewing. Users can also email a request for a showing of a listed home. The Home Search Mobile App can be downloaded at

Major new exhibit opens at Maryland Science Center

The Maryland Science Center and Constellation last week celebrated the opening of the center’s newest permanent exhibit, Power Up. The $1.8 million exhibit, sponsored by Constellation and parent company Exelon, gives visitors an interactive look at the science of electricity. The 4,000-square-foot, multi-lingual (English, Spanish and Braille) exhibit features more than 12 interactive stations that allow visitors to participate in the process of generating, measuring, monitoring and distributing electricity. Power Up is the first major permanent to exhibit to open at the Maryland Science Center in four years. The exhibit was designed by Hands On Inc., of St. Petersburg, Fla., which specializes in creating experiential exhibits for science centers and museums across the country.

New Italian restaurant opens in Canton

The nation’s first Venti Tre Modern Italian, a new, fast-casual restaurant, has opened in Baltimore’s Canton neighborhood. Venti Tre (which means “23” in Italian), is located in a 2,900-square-foot space at The Shops at Canton Crossing, a new retail center that opened last October on Boston Street. Up to 80 diners can top their pasta dishes and salads with at least 23 different toppings, such as tomato Bruschetta salsa, fried capers, house-made focaccia croutons and roasted mushrooms, as well as cheeses including shredded mozzarella and provolone, hand-grated asiago and crumbled feta. The restaurant, designed by WD Partners, of Columbus, Ohio, combines both modern and old-fashioned decor. Venti Tre’s owner, Fazoli’s, based in Lexington, Ky., is the nation’s largest quick-service Italian restaurant chain. A company representative said two more Venti Tre restaurants are being planned to open this year in Maryland, one in Baltimore and another in Gaithersburg, and national franchising is also being planned.

Mahan Rykiel applauded for landscaping design work

Mahan Rykiel Associates, a Baltimore-based landscape architecture, urban design, and planning firm, was honored for its work on four projects in the Baltimore area. The Baltimore chapter of WTS (Women’s Transportation Seminars) cited the firm’s work on the Maryland Transit Administration’s Green Tracks Pilot Project for the proposed Red Line. Green Tracks refers to plantings in the light rail line’s trackway that would ordinarily be paved or stone ballasted. MRA was part of a team that also included Johnson Mirmiran & Thomson, RK&K, Parsons Brinckerhoff and ArchPlan. MRA also was part of design teams that won Maryland Quality Initiative awards for three other projects: the MARC Edgewood Station Improvements; the MARC Halethorpe Station High-Level Platform and Pedestrian Bridge; and the Inter-County Connector Upper Paint Branch Stormwater Management Retrofits.

Parkville library branch to close for renovations

The Parkville branch of the Baltimore County Public Library is scheduled to close on March 29 for extensive interior renovations and repairs. Planned renovations include new carpeting, paint and improvements to the shelving system. The branch is scheduled to reopen in June. The Parkville branch opened in 1971 and was the first building in the county library system to have a wheelchair ramp. The branch circulated over 630,000 items in fiscal year 2013 and served over 200,000 customers.

EBL Engineers’ work on NIST project lauded

EBL Engineers LLC, of Baltimore, earned a National Recognition Award for exemplary engineering achievement in the American Council of Engineering Companies’ 48th annual Engineering Excellence Awards for designing the Net Zero Energy Residential Test Facility in Gaithersburg. The innovative 2,500-square-foot building, designed for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is being used to assess how a variety of conventional and cutting-edge building technologies can help a typical family-of-four residence become “net-zero”— or generate as much energy on an annual basis as it consumes. The project is among 143 engineering achievements throughout the nation and the world being recognized by ACEC as pre-eminent engineering achievements, eligible for one of the 24 top 2014 Engineering Excellence Awards, which will be announced at ceremonies on April 29 in Washington.

Merritt Construction Services wins ABC Excellence Award

Merritt Construction Services, of Baltimore, won an Excellence Award from the Baltimore Metro Chapter of the Associated Builders & Contractors, a nonprofit trade association. The award was Merritt’s renovation of the University of Phoenix’s Maryland campus in Columbia, located at 8830 Stanford Boulevard in Merritt Properties LLC’s Columbia Corporate Park. The university required a complete renovation of the entire first floor, totaling 24,895 square feet. The project involved seven phases and was completed in nine months, while allowing the university’s staff members and students to continue working during the construction. Renovations included a new lobby, an open workstation area, new offices and additional workstations for the university’s support staff.


Merritt Properties reported the following recently signed commercial leases:

* Booz Allen Hamilton Engineering Services LLC, a provider of engineering consulting services, leased 2,550 square feet of storage space at 152 Blades Lane, Suite P, in Glen Burnie, Anne Arundel County. Booz Allen Hamilton was represented in the lease negotiations by CBRE’s Shiva Power. Jamie Campbell, Vince Bagli, Liz Tarran-Jones and Steve Shaw of Merritt Properties represented the landlord.

* Final Touch Painting & Wallcovering LLC, a residential painting contractor leased 3,117 square feet of warehouse space and 933 square feet of office space — a total of 4,050 square feet — at the Route 7 Business Park, 9321 Philadelphia Road in Rosedale, Baltimore County. Merritt Properties’ in-house leasing team of Pat Franklin, Whit Levering, Lou Boeri and Ashley Combs handled the deal for the landlord.

* Delaware Elevator Inc., a provider of elevator maintenance and sales, leased 6,900 square feet of warehouse and office space at Guilford Industrial Park, Hidden Rock II, 9515 Gerwig Lane, Suites 105-106, in Columbia, Howard County. Merritt was represented by its in-house leasing team of Jamie Campbell, Vince Bagli, Liz Tarran-Jones and Steve Shaw.