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Real Estate Insider: Pot facility planned for Eastern Shore

Company hopes to obtain one of 15 licenses to be granted by state

A medical marijuana firm has invested nearly $1 million in an Eastern Shore industrial property it intends to use to grow the plant and perform research on its medical attributes.

CannaMED Pharmaceuticals LLC purchased 27120 Ocean Gateway in Hebron for about $1 million, Angeline Nanni, the firm’s president and CEO, said. The plan is to break up the 47,226-square-foot industrial space into primarily a grow facility with a 6,000-square-foot research area on the second floor.

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission requires potential growers to take several steps, such as raising capital, acquiring real estate and securing local zoning approvals, before it can be considered for final approval for a license. (Thinkstock photo)

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission requires potential growers to take several steps, such as raising capital, acquiring real estate and securing local zoning approvals, before it can be considered for final approval for a license. (Thinkstock photo)

“This facility meets the needs of all the restrictions that we need from a grow standpoint and a security standpoint. We sit on eight acres, really not surrounded by high residential [density] or school areas,” Nanni said. “So we’re fairly isolated, we have our own dedicated entrance, which already has a gate on Route 50.”

Although the selection of a facility in Hebron, a small town west of Salisbury, may seem like an odd choice at first glance, Nanni said the firm’s decision was made based on the combination of good fit and open arms.

CannaMED searched for properties all over the state, she said, but decided to locate in Hebron because Wicomico County has educational institutions that could help train employees, the area is steeped in agricultural tradition and it had a supportive Chamber of Commerce, of which CannaMED is now a member. The firm plans to eventually employ 70 to 100 residents at the facility.

“These are highly trained, these are skilled positions, and so we are going to need support from the community for the training, and Wicomico County offered all of this,” Nanni said.

CannaMED is hoping to start on part of the build-out of its property and begin laying out its research labs and offices in the next month.

However, the purchase of the property by CannaMED represents a risk because the firm hasn’t been granted one of the state’s 15 growing licenses. Maryland is expected to make a decision on which firms will receive stage one licenses this summer.

According to the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, a potential grower must take several steps, such as raising capital, acquiring real estate and securing local zoning approvals, before it can be considered for final approval.

The firm has already raised capital from investors, but Nanni declined to specify how much. It received zoning approval from Wicomico County in October and has now acquired the property.

“Prior to the end of June or July, when the announcement will be made for licenses, we hope to get started, so that as soon as the licenses are awarded, of which we hope to be one of 15, we can pull the trigger and begin growing immediately,” she said.

In states such as Colorado, where marijuana has been approved for recreational use, the industry has emerged as a driver in the industrial property market. According to a CBRE report on the Denver market released in October, the marijuana industry accounted for 35.8 percent of total net absorption for industrial property in that metro area between 2009 and 2014.

But in Maryland, where only medical marijuana has been approved and the industry is subject to stringent regulations and a limited number of licenses, the impact on the commercial real estate market is expected to be much smaller, at least initially.

“This is medical cannabis. It is going to be grown as a medicine,” Nanni said. “It is not recreational. Even the dispensaries will have to be, not only registered by the state of Maryland, but every patient that walks in that door has to be registered, and every physician that recommends this also has to be registered with the state of Maryland.”

Maryland foreclosure blues continue

Maryland led the nation in the rate of foreclosures in the first quarter of 2016, according to RealtyTrac.

The residential real estate data firm found that one in every 194 housing units in the state had a foreclosure filing. It was followed by New Jersey (one in every 216 units); Nevada (one in every 236 units); Delaware (one in every 240 units); and Florida (one in every 274 units).

The major culprit for Maryland’s place atop the foreclosure rankings is Baltimore. The city ranked third in the nation among cities with the highest foreclosure rate, with one in every 183 housing units with a foreclosure notice. It only trailed Atlantic City and Trenton, New Jersey.


Symbol of riots to celebrate opening

A year-to-the-day that The Mary Harvin Senior Center burned during the riots in Baltimore the developer will celebrate the official opening of the building.

The Woda Group Inc. will host a grand opening for the $16 million center, at 1600 N. Chester St., at 2 p.m. on April 27. The project will provide 61 units of affordable housing for area seniors.

Images of the building burning were broadcast on television that night, and served as a visual shorthand for the rage over the death of Freddie Gray from injuries suffered in police custody.

However, the day after the fire Woda and the project’s architect and builder were at work, pledging to rebuild the center.


Biocerna relocates to Howard County

Biocerna LLC is relocating from Gaithersburg to Howard County.

The firm, which performs DNA, paternity and medical testing, signed a lease with St. John Properties for 7,721 square feet of laboratory and office space at the four-story 11,000 square foot Class A office building at 8161 Maple Lawn Blvd.

“Companies throughout neighboring counties and stretching into Northern Virginia submarkets continue to be attracted to the amenities and upscale corporate environment that exists at Maple Lawn,” Richard Williams, senior vice president of leasing for St. John Properties, said in a news release.

Maple Lawn is a 600-acre, mixed-use development that is permitted for up 1.8 million square feet of office space and has a residential portion that can handle up to 1,300 housing units.


Donohoe Cos. moving to Bethesda

The Donohoe Cos., a family-owned commercial real estate firm, is relocating from Washington, D.C., to Bethesda.

The firm is moving its development, real estate, construction and hospitality divisions to offices on Wisconsin Avenue. All told, the company is moving 240 jobs to Maryland later this year.

“Our continued growth and success has paved the way for expansion into larger, new, vibrant offices in Montgomery County’s urban core — Bethesda,” Chris Burch, president and chief operating officer of The Donohoe Cos., said in a news release.

Donohoe Cos. received a $500,000 conditional loan from the Maryland Department of Commerce through the Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority and Fund. Montgomery County also approved a $100,000 grant, which can be converted to a loan, to assist with the relocation.