Real Estate Weekly: Nov. 20, 2014

Commercial moves

  • Baltimore’s Cordish Cos. and Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment Inc. have been approved by Pennsylvania for their final gaming license for the proposed Live Hotel and Casino in Philadelphia, the companies announced on Tuesday. Cordish, developer and owner of Maryland Live Casino, and Greenwood plan to build the Philadelphia project on the site of the Stadium Holiday Inn, near the city’s stadiums and arena in South Philadelphia. The final approval came from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Cordish Cos. Chairman David Cordish said in a statement: “We are very appreciative of the tremendous community support we have enjoyed on our proposal, and I can guarantee we will be excellent neighbors and corporate citizens for the city and state.” Plans for the Live project call for a casino with 2,000 slot machines and 125 table games and a 240-room hotel.
  • Howard Bank is opening a branch in Little Patuxent Square in downtown Columbia in the ground-level retail location of the nine-story building. Little Patuxent Square, set to open in 2016,  is one of the first new commercial projects to break ground as part of the Columbia revitalization.  The branch is subject to regulatory approval, which is expected shortly. Headquartered in Ellicott City with three branches, a headquarters and operations center as well as a mortgage center in Howard County, Howard Bank recently increased its portfolio by acquiring the deposits and assets of NBRS Financial Bank after that institution was shut down by regulators.
  • DiamondRock Hospitality Co., of Bethesda, a real estate investment trust that owns 27 hotels, announced that it is selling the 1,004-room Los Angeles Airport Marriott for about $160 million. DiamondRock didn’t name the buyer, other than to say it was the same one who purchased the Torrance (California) Marriott from the company last year — which was Chinese real estate developer Sichuan Xinglida Group Enterprises Co. DiamondRock bought the Los Angeles Airport Marriott in 2005 for about $118 million and renovated the property in 2006. The deal is expected to close by end of the year.
  • The former owner of a Glen Burnie office building has been charged with securities fraud by a federal grand jury in Baltimore. Wilfred T. Azar III, 53, formerly of Queenstown, allegedly duped over 50 investors out of $7 million. Azar owned Empire Towers, a 10-story office building, but his company was basically insolvent when he started selling bonds, telling investors his firm was in good shape financially and that he planned to use funds to renovate the building, according to the indictment. Azar never registered the bonds with either the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission or the state of Maryland. Azar allegedly used the money to pay his personal expenses, including the purchase of luxury vehicles and vacations, and to finance his other real estate ventures and yacht brokerage business. Azar faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
  • Colliers International announced it arranged the Enoch Pratt Enoch Pratt Free Library to lease 40,000 square feet of warehouse space at 1915 Annapolis Road in Baltimore. The library will use the space to store books from its Central Library in Baltimore while the building undergoes renovations. Those renovations are expected to begin next year.
  • Health-care analytics and technology firm Pulse8, Inc portion of the third floor 175 Admiral Cochrane Drive in Annapolis, raising the occupancy rate at the Class A office building to 93 percent. The 50,000 square foot building was recently renovated and located near the hear of Annapolis’ commercial district. MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services LLC represented the tenant and landlord in the transaction.

Multifamily news

  • The Bank of America Charitable Foundation has named Episcopal Housing Corp. as a 2014 Neighborhood Builder for its work in the Baltimore area, awarding Episcopal Housing $200,000 in flexible funding and offering leadership training for executives. Episcopal Housing provides real estate development services to nonprofits to help those most in need. With this latest award, Bank of America has invested $3.8 million in Baltimore area nonprofits being recognized as Neighborhood Builders.
  • Monument City Realty Corp. announced it has sold Spring Road Flats in Washington D.C. to SOME, Inc. The two-building, 30-unit walk-up apartment community located in the Northwest Washington, D.C. neighborhood of Columbia Heights. Greysteel Co., a Washington, D.C. based real estate investment services firm represented Monument City Realty in the transaction.
  • Urban Investment Partners and Criterion Holdings bought two apartment complexes with a total of 385 units for $39.3 million from a partnership between Boston-based Intercontinental Real Estate and Sawyer Realty Holdings. An affiliate of New York City-based Starr Companies provided equity and is a partner in the new ownership group.  Laurel Pines, located at 14601 Bowie Road, sold for $27 million. Country Club Apartments, which sold for $12.3 million is located at 7491 East Furnace Branch Road in Glen Burnie.

Retail roundup

  • The first Microsoft Store in Maryland is scheduled to have its grand opening at the Westfield Montgomery Mall on Saturday.  Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to attend the opening between 2-4 p.m. and will play Xbox with a few fans.

Bigger picture

  • (AP)  HYATTSVILLE — Maryland officials are scheduled to announce a new program aimed at helping eligible Prince George’s County residents buy homes. Attorney General Doug Gansler and Acting Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Clarence Snuggs are scheduled to attend the announcement Thursday in Hyattsville. County Executive Rushern Baker also is scheduled to attend. The $100 million program is designed to stabilize county neighborhoods by promoting homeownership. Officials say it’s expected to help an estimated 500 families
  • The Baltimore Development Corp. is in great shape, according to an audit performed by T.R. Klein & Co. The city’s nonprofit economic development arm received the highest possible rating of “unmodified.” Here are some quick takeaways from the audit: BDC’s total assets amount to about $10.4 million; the organizations total assets are 85 percent cash; Accounts payable total $900,000; most of that is employee salary and accrued vacation; total net assets come to $5.5 million, and 56 percent of that is loan funds.

About Adam Bednar

Adam Bednar covers real estate and development for The Daily Record.

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