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Real Estate Weekly – 5/23/14

Downtown Columbia updates its brand

The Downtown Columbia Partnership introduced a new logo and brand for the downtown area. The partnership — an independent nonprofit corporation dedicated to marketing and promoting downtown Columbia as a vibrant, economically robust place to live, play, learn and work — said the new branding initiatives help identify downtown as a leading lifestyle center for Howard County and the region. According to the partnership, establishing an enterprising brand for a community established 47 years ago supports the path toward reinvigorating Columbia’s downtown area, fulfilling founder Jim Rouse’s original vision for a thriving, diverse city that nurtures people’s growth. The new logo conveys a modern excitement and burst of energy while at the same time invoking the community’s beloved statute, The People Tree, at Lake Kittamaqundi, the partnership said. The statute by Pierre du Fayet was installed in 1967 and symbolizes Rouse’s vision for an inclusive community. The new logo has seven points, representing the seven neighborhoods that make up Downtown Columbia.

Restaurateurs, interior designers join on childhood hunger effort

Two of Maryland’s foremost restaurateurs, Tony Foreman and Cindy Wolf, and interior design duo Rita St. Clair and Bruce Thim, have teamed up to help eliminate childhood hunger in Maryland. The four entrepreneurs have joined forces with No Kid Hungry, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to end childhood hunger in America. They have scheduled a $125-a-plate fundraiser on June 3, at Petit Louis Bistro in Columbia, with 40 percent of the proceeds benefiting No Kid Hungry. The 7,000-square-foot restaurant was designed by St. Clair’s firm, Rita St. Clair Associates, where Thim is design director. Foreman and Wolf own not only Petit Louis Bistro, but also Charleston, Pazo, Cinghiale, Johnny’s and Bin 604 Wine Sellers. In addition to a special multicourse menu with wine pairing, the hosts will have a discussion on how the design elements combine with the great tastes of classic French bistro fare. To make a reservation, contact the restaurant at 410-964-9999.

Federal Capital Partners sells second apartment community

Federal Capital Partners, a privately held real estate investment company based in Chevy Chase, said it sold Willowdale Crossing Apartments, a 432-unit garden apartment development in Frederick. The buyer, whose identity was not disclosed, paid $41 million for the property. Willowdale, which was named Brookside when it was acquired by FCP in March 2011, together with Overlook Manor Apartments, a 290-unit garden apartment complex, also in Frederick. FCP paid $50.5 million for the two projects, according to a release announcing the acquisitions. FCP sold Overlook Manor in March 2014 for $23.05 million. The buyer of that community also was not identified. “Our investment in the [Willowdale] property included substantial capital improvements, resulting in stronger leasing performance, higher occupancy and positive NOI growth,” said FCP Managing Partner Alex Marshall. ARA, a national real estate investment advisory firm, assisted with the sale of both the Overlook Manor and Willowdale developments.

FCP acquires apartment complex in Fredericksburg, Virginia

Federal Capital Partners, of Chevy Chase, also announced it has acquired Townsend Square Apartments, a 200-unit apartment community located in Fredericksburg, Virginia. FCP paid $18.8 million for the gated development, which was built in 1995. The complex features a mix of two- and three-bedroom apartments, with amenities that include a newly renovated clubhouse, fitness center, picnic area, playground, volleyball court and large swimming pool. Townsend Square also participates in a tax credit program that reduces rents for those who qualify. FCP Managing Partner Alex Marshall commented, “Fredericksburg has become one of the fastest-growing areas of the Washington MSA and access to quality affordable housing is of vital importance. This acquisition is well-positioned close to major employment centers and supports our continued interest in this sector.” Kettler has been retained as the complex’s manager. The Greysteel Co., of Bethesda, represented the seller in the transaction. The seller was not identified.

Greysteel Co. named agent for sale of Pinkney Manor

The Greysteel Co., of Bethesda, a real estate investment services firm, said its mid-Atlantic multifamily investment sales division has been named as the exclusive advisor and agent for the sale of Pinkney Manor, a 10-unit walk-up apartment community located off Reisterstown Road in Baltimore, south of the Pikesville area. The property is in close proximity to employment centers that include the Baltimore Department of Social Services, Maryland Health Care Commission, Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, and Sinai Hospital. The development was built in 1978 and consists of two-bedroom units. “Accessibility to employers, solid transportation infrastructure, high-performing school systems and numerous amenities are all at the fingertips of the residents,” said John Mullen, Greysteel’s director of multifamily. “The economic drivers of the local submarket will continue to strengthen rent growth and support high occupancy for the foreseeable future.”

Pebblebrook acquires sixth hotel in San Francisco

Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, of Bethesda, a real estate investment trust focused on luxury hotels in large U.S. cities, said it paid $49 million to acquire the 160-room Prescott Hotel in San Francisco, its sixth hotel property in that city. The hotel is actually comprised of two buildings. At 545 Post Street, Pebblebrook will own a fee-simple interest in 96 guest rooms on seven floors. At 555 Post Street, an adjacent attached building, Pebblebrook will own a leasehold interest for 64 guest rooms on the third through seventh floors. The leasehold interest expires in 2089. Pebblebrook said it will undertake a comprehensive renovation sometime between 2015 and 2016, but is still working on details. Pebblebrook now owns, or has an ownership interest in, 30 hotels in 10 states and Washington, D.C.

RLJ Lodging Trust prices shares in offering

RLJ Lodging Trust, of Bethesda, a real estate investment trust focused on acquiring premium-branded and compact full-service hotels, announced it has priced an underwritten public offering of 8 million common shares of beneficial interest at $26.45 per share, for net proceeds of approximately $202.3 million, after deducting the underwriting discount and other estimated offering costs. The company, without explanation, raised the number of shares in the offering from an original 7.5 million common shares. The company also granted underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 1.2 million common shares. The company said it intends to use the net proceeds for future acquisitions and other corporate purposes.

Two companies submit Frederick hotel proposals

(AP) Two companies have submitted proposals to the city of Frederick to build a hotel and conference center. One is for a 207-room Marriott on the north side of Carroll Creek, on the old site of The Frederick News-Post. The other is for a 225-room hotel on the south side of the creek, next to the Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center. Both would include more than 20,000 feet of meeting space. City Economic Development Director Richard Griffin told the News-Post a committee will review the proposals, interview company officials and make a recommendation by early summer to the mayor and Board of Aldermen. The city hopes construction can start next year.

Development site in Laurel sold

Cushman & Wakefield of Maryland Inc., a commercial real estate services provider, said it arranged the sale of Hawthorne Place, a 10.96-acre development site at 9007 Marshall Ave. in Laurel, for an undisclosed price. Rockville-based Cohen Siegel Investors LLC bought the property. The seller’s identity was not disclosed. Cushman & Wakefield’s capital markets team of Cristopher Abramson, Brian Kruger and Nicholas Signor coordinated the disposition of the property on behalf of the seller. The site currently contains a truck terminal and garage, but is zoned for 296 multifamily units and ancillary commercial space for Phase I of its development. Plans call for Phase I to start in the early fall, according to a Cohen Siegel representative. Additionally, the site is approved for up to 1,006 multifamily units plus an additional 140,000 square feet of office and retail space.

Canada firm buys Thayer Lodging Group

(Bloomberg) Brookfield Asset Management Inc., Canada’s biggest manager of alternative assets, has acquired Thayer Lodging Group, of Annapolis, a closely held investor in hotels including a Ritz-Carlton and a JW Marriott in San Francisco. The acquisition was completed last week, said Bruce Wiles, chief operating officer at Thayer Lodging, which will operate as a unit of Toronto-based Brookfield. Wiles wouldn’t disclose the purchase price. Thayer’s seven funds have made 43 hotel investments for total acquisition costs of about $2.5 billion since the company’s 1991 founding, according to Wiles. It currently owns 12 properties, including the Hilton Los Cabos in Mexico and four hotels in Miami, according to its website.

Merriweather Post pavilion in Columbia to get makeover

(AP) Howard County Executive Ken Ulman announced a five-year, $19 million plan for improvements to the outdoor Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia. The renovations, set to begin after the current concert season, include new seating, a raised roof around the main stage, new restrooms and concessions, new artist dressing rooms and a new stage. Officials said the plan leverages more than $30 million in arts and culture funding by expediting the transfer of the venue to the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission. The Howard Hughes Corp. would finance the first half of the renovations and the other half would be financed through a loan to Howard Hughes by the commission.

BWI Airport awarded $11M in federal grants

(AP) The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded more than $11 million in grants for runway improvements at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. The money awarded through the Airport Improvement Program will be used for runway improvements, including new 35-foot runway shoulders for the length of the runway, modifications to the runway-taxiway intersections and lighting improvements. The project is part of a $350 million effort to bring all of the airport’s runways into compliance with federal safety standards by 2015. The grants were announced by U.S. Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin and Rep. John Sarbanes, all Maryland Democrats.


Merritt Properties LLC reported the following recently signed lease transaction:

* Ductz International LLC, an air duct cleaning and HVAC restoration company, leased 5,912 square feet of office and warehouse storage space at Windsor Corporate Park, 2607 N. Rolling Road, in Windsor Mill. CBRE’s Dave Fields and Peter Kimmel represented Ductz. Merritt’s in-house leasing team of Pat Franklin, Whit Levering, Lou Boeri and Ashley Combs represented the landlord in the transaction.


Mueller Associates, a Baltimore-based mechanical and electrical engineering firm, announced that Ronald E. Maylor has joined the firm as a project manager. Maylor has 30 years of experience in electrical engineering, including 18 years in consulting engineering for new buildings and renovations. Maylor was previously a project manager with RMF Engineering and Schlenger/Pitz and Associates, which was acquired by RMF in 2011. His expertise includes photovoltaic systems; generator and emergency power systems; and building condition assessment studies. Maylor holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He is a licensed professional engineer, a LEED-accredited professional, and a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.