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Hilton Baltimore BWI Airport Completes Renovation

9 May 2014, 4:54 pm

By Adrian  Maties, Associate Editor

The Hilton Baltimore BWI Airport announced last week the completion of a number of significant upgrades. They have helped improve the hotel’s ranking and elevated it into the top five of its competitive set, according to reviewers on one of the top guest-rated websites. In fact, last year, the Hilton Baltimore BWI Airport received the 2013 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award.

The hotel is located in Linthicum Heights, adjacent to the Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport, with downtown Baltimore just 20 minutes away. It features 280 rooms, 16,000 square feet of meeting space for up to 800 guests, and a host of amenities, including an indoor swimming pool, restaurant, fitness center and high speed Internet access. The hotel uses rooftop solar panels and is energy-efficient.

The renovation project called for a complete makeover of the lobby, upgrades to the fitness center, renovations to the hallways, as well as adding a new function room, the 4,000-square-foot Flight Deck, which can accommodate up to 200 people. Additional upgrades are planned for this fall. The hotel’s 11th floor concierge lounge will be renovated, while its lobby sundry shop will be expanded. The cost of the renovation was not disclosed.

“Although the hotel opened only in late 2006, our goal is to keep it fresh and appealing to guests,” said Joseph Bojanowski, president of PM Hospitality Strategies, the hotel’s operator, in a press statement. “The investment and hard work immediately paid off with highly favorable comments from our guests. As a result of the renovation and implementation of new guest service initiatives, website reviewers now rate the Hilton Baltimore BWI Airport in the top five out of 26 competitive hotels. As we settle in from these renovations, our intent is to continue to move up in the rankings.”

Photo credits: www.hiltonbwihotel.com

Atlantic Realty Buys Baltimore’s Alameda Marketplace for $11.3M

2 May 2014, 2:32 pm

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

A Baltimore City urban shopping center recently changed hands. The Alameda Marketplace was acquired by Atlantic Realty Companies for $11,305,000. Continental Realty Corporation was the seller.

The Alameda Marketplace is located on 10.9 acres of land, at 5600 – 5658 The Alameda, not far from Good Samaritan Hospital. At the time of the sale, the property was 95  percent occupied. Its tenant roster includes Stop Shop Save, Rite-Aid, Family Dollar, Goodwill, Bank of America, Rainbow and Rent-A-Center.

Greysteel Co. represented the seller and also procured the buyer. Including the Alameda Marketplace, the real estate company arranged the sale of four significant shopping centers in the Baltimore Metro Area in the last nine months. Managing Director Gil Neuman led Greysteel’s retail team.

“The buyers acquired a center whose dense urban infill location and limited competition has maintained a high occupancy level for decades,” Gil Neuman said in a press statement. “We identified Atlantic Realty Companies as experienced players most likely to unlock added value including capitalizing on an adjacent large swath of still undeveloped land,” he added.

According to Greysteel, the Alameda Marketplace is located in the center of a dense northeast Baltimore City residential neighborhood, with an average population of 8,600 people per square mile and 230,000 residents within a three mile radius. Good Samaritan Hospital, Morgan State University, and Johns Hopkins University’s main Homewood Campus are also located nearby.

In a market outlook report for 2014, Marcus & Millichap also said that retail operations in the Baltimore area have steadily improved over the past three years and will strengthen in 2014, thanks to job growth and an increasing demand for space. Vacancy is expected to drop to 4.1 percent this year, while average rents will go up 3 percent to $19.75 per square foot.

Chart courtesy of Marcus&Millichap.

Armada Hoffler To Construct a 20-Story, Mixed-Use Tower in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor

25 Apr 2014, 2:46 pm

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

In a couple of years, Baltimore’s waterfront will be home to a new, mixed-use tower. After a two-year pre-development effort, Harbor Point developer Beatty Development Group, LLC has selected Armada Hoffler Construction Company, a division of Virginia Beach-based Armada Hoffler Properties, for the construction of the tower. The construction contract is worth $165 million.

The 20-story tower will be located adjacent to Harbor East, one of the last major development sites in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. It will feature approximately 900,000 square feet of space. According to Beatty Development’s website, the building will be LEED Gold certified and will include 415,000 square feet of office space, 103 apartments, 41,000 square feet of retail space and a parking garage with 750 spaces. When finished, the tower will be the new regional headquarters of Chicago-based energy company Exelon.

Construction is scheduled to start this spring. The developers expect to complete the project by spring 2016.

Since 1993, Armada Hoffler has developed projects worth over $1 billion in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. These include the Four Seasons Hotel, Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel and Conference Center, Legg Mason Global Headquarters and Spinnaker Bay luxury apartments.

“The reputation and experience that we’ve earned in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor over the last two decades led to this important win,” said Eric Apperson, President of Armada Hoffler Construction Company, in a press statement. “We are excited to be a part of the Harbor Point project and the continued development of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.”

Photo credits: Beatty Development Group

Greater Baltimore Multi-Housing Developments Receive Funding

18 Apr 2014, 2:40 pm

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

Two Greater Baltimore residential projects secured financing last week, and are both now one step closer to completion. Located in downtown Baltimore and in Odenton, the two projects total more than 420 units.

Last fall, JK Equities, a real estate company based in Long Island, NY, paid 7.2 million to acquire the historic Equitable Building from Equitable Holdings Trust. Soon after, it announced its plans to invest $32 million and convert the nine-story office property into 180 market-rate housing units. Located at 10 North Calvert Street, the Equitable Building was constructed in 1891 and is considered Baltimore’s first skyscraper.

JK Equities closed a $21.5 million acquisition loan with Wall Street firm Natixis Global Asset Management last week. Eastern Union Funding President Ira Zlotowitz and Senior Managing Director Meir Kessner arranged the loan. It features a 4.91 percent annual interest rate on a three-year term. With financing now secured, the project can move forward. It is expected to be completed in March 2015.

Further south, in Odenton, Holliday Fenoglio Fowler has arranged senior debt construction financing for NOVUS Odenton Station, a Class A, transit-oriented multi-housing development. The HFF debt placement team, led by Walter Coker and Brian, worked on behalf of NOVUS Residences LLC. It placed a four-year construction loan with EagleBank and it also secured joint venture equity for the development of the project through Clark Enterprises.

NOVUS Odenton Station is located at the northeast corner of Hale Street and Nevada Avenue. It is expected to be completed in early 2015 and will feature 244 one-, two- and three-bedroom units. Amenities include a 5,000-square-foot fitness center with yoga and cycle studios, pet grooming spa, bike workshop, private park space, outdoor swimming pool, movie theater room and clubroom with billiards center.

Photo credits: JK Equities

Developers Plan 700 New Apartments in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor

14 Apr 2014, 2:24 pm

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services predicts that operations in the Baltimore apartment market will strengthen this year, as it absorbs 2013’s construction surge. The accelerating job growth and the strongest household formation in years will boost net absorption of apartments across the metro, while Baltimore’s growing 20- to 34-year-old population, considered the prime renter demographic, will further support demand.

Demand is expected to outpace construction this year, leading to a drop in vacancy to 4.5% by the end of the year. Rents are also expected to advance 3.1% to $1,229 per month. Anticipating the rising demand, developers have started to build in the area. Nearly 1,800 new units are expected to be delivered this year, 1,000 of them in downtown Baltimore.

And more apartments are on their way. The two newest projects were announced at the start of April. Together, they will bring about 700 units to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor area.

According to the Baltimore Business Journal, Orlando, Fla.-based apartment developer Zom Holding Inc. plans to demolish the former University of Maryland Specialty Hospital and replace it with a new 350-unit apartment building. It would be Zom’s first development in the Baltimore area.

But there’s still a long way to go before construction can start. Zom has to purchase the hospital from the Abell Foundation, which paid $7.5 million for it. If everything goes in favor of the Florida developer, a new, six-story building will be constructed on the 2.2-acre site at 601 S. Charles Street.

The Baltimore Sun also reported that Questar Properties, a Pikesville developer, plans to build a 40- to 45-story luxury apartment tower on the site of the former McCormick & Co. spice factory. It will contain between 350 and 370 units, ground-level shopping and a six- or seven-story garage. It will also be one of the tallest buildings in Baltimore.

Questar expects the project to cost at least $130 million. The company plans to break ground by the end of the year, with a completion date set for 2017. It will build the new tower on 1.9 acres of land at Light and Conway Streets. Questar purchased the property at auction, for $11.5 million, three years ago. In March, Questar showed preliminary designs to neighborhood groups and, last week, it presented plans to the city.

Charts courtesy of Marcus & Millichap


KEYW Leases Space in a New Building to Be Developed by COPT in Hanover

8 Apr 2014, 1:20 pm

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

At the end of 2013, the Baltimore Sun named the KEYW Corporation one of Baltimore’s Top 100 Workplaces. Since then, the cyber security services provider has continued to grow and, recently, has announced its plans to expand.

On April 1, KEYW said it has signed a 10-year lease with the Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT) for an additional 88,500 square feet of space in a new building. It will be constructed at 7880 Milestone Parkway, close to KEYW’s current headquarters, in Hanover. It will be close to both Fort George G. Meade and the National Security Agency.

The new building will house KEYW’s Advanced Cyber Research and Training Center. There, KEYW will develop tools and analytics to help protect and defend the United States against cyber terrorists. The state-of-the-art training center will also help train the students required to bring the cyber warfare forces up to full strength.

“KEYW has always been on the leading edge of cyber security and this investment to expand our infrastructure comes as a result of our recognition that the U.S. Government needs the cyber expertise we provide,” KEYW President and CEO Len Moodispaw said in a statement for the press.

During the first quarter of 2014, COPT has completed 176,000 square feet of development leasing at four distinct projects, in Maryland, Philadelphia and Northern Virginia.  It will soon start work on the new building for KEYW. Plans call for a four-story structure, with 120,000 square feet of space. KEYW’s lease is expected to start during the third quarter of 2015. The cyber security company has the option to take the remaining 30,000 square feet of space.

Founded in 2008, KEYW has expanded rapidly and now has nearly 1,100 employees in five states. Recently, the company has expanded its Airborne Sensors and Flight Operations Center in North Andover, Massachusetts by 10,000 square feet to support new sensor technologies and flight service offerings. It also plans to expand into an additional 15,000 square feet of space in its Severn, Maryland facility to accommodate growth in both sensor and microelectronic development.

Photo credits: The KEYW Corporation

Rubell Hotels Reopens Historic Lord Baltimore Hotel, Following Multi-million Dollar Restoration

31 Mar 2014, 6:57 pm

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

The Lord Baltimore Hotel officially reopened on Thursday, March 27, following a restoration project that brought the old building back to life. Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore City Councilman William Cole and other dignitaries attended the ribbon cutting ceremony.

The hotel was constructed in 1928, in the heart of downtown Baltimore. It was designed by famous architect William Lee Stoddart, in the French Renaissance style. At that time, the 23-story building was considered one of the crowning architectural jewels of Baltimore. It is included in the National Register of Historic Places and is a member of Historic Hotels of America.

From its 289-foot height, The Lord Baltimore kept watch over the city and, as the years went by, it saw many things change and experienced many changes as well. It changed ownership several times, it even changed its name; but, most importantly, it seems that the old hotel finally managed to change its luck for the better.

In March 2013, Rubell Hotels acquired the Lord Baltimore for $10 million. The family-owned company is known for renovating architecturally significant and historic hotels and turning them into affordable cultural hubs. Rubell Hotels immediately started work on a multi-million dollar top-to-bottom renovation of the historic hotel.

Now, a year later, the Lord Baltimore has been restored to its former glory. Its 440 guestrooms and suites feature dark wood tones with clean lines, contemporary art, velvet drapes and plush mattresses, as well as high-speed internet, HD TVs, refrigerators and coffee makers. Rubell Hotels has brought on Scott Sanders, formerly of the Ralph Lauren interior design department, for the redesign of the rooms. He also worked on reimagining the French Kitchen restaurant, the LB Bakery, the LB Tavern, the hotel’s lobby, and the more than 20.000 square feet of meeting and event space, including the historic Calvert Ballroom.

The restored Lord Baltimore will feature a signature gift shop called SideShow, an outpost of the American Visionary Art Museum’s museum shop. Rubell Hotels also plans to hold art exhibitions throughout the hotel’s public spaces.

Photo credits: The Lord Baltimore Hotel

Baltimore’s 1901 South Charles Wins USGBC Wintergreen Award

24 Mar 2014, 2:09 pm

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

Owings Mills-based Chesapeake Realty Partners has seen its efforts to create an environmentally friendly building recognized. The 1901 South Charles apartments, one of Chesapeake’s newest apartment communities, has been awarded the United States Green Building Council Maryland 2013 Wintergreen Award for Excellence in Green Building.

Located in the city’s Federal Hill neighborhood, 1901 South Charles features 193 high-end studio, one- and two-bedroom apartment units. The apartments feature hardwood floors, granite counters, stainless steel appliances, Energy Star rated units and appliances, and more. Community amenities include a 5,000-square-foot Resident’s Club with Wi-Fi, state-of-the-art fitness center, yoga/Wii room, individual club style package lockers, and courtyard.

Chesapeake started work on the building in 2011, investing $32 million. 1901 South Charles opened to tenants in 2012, with a LEED Silver certification. But this wasn’t enough for the developers. Their efforts to create an energy- and cost-efficient building paid off a year later, in 2013, when the USGBC awarded 1901 South Charles LEED Gold certification. The apartment building became the first wood-framed residential rental community in Baltimore to achieve this distinction.

“It’s amazing to see the diversity of people in support of, and actively working towards, a healthy and sustainable built environment,” USGBC Maryland’s Executive Director, Mary Pulcinella, said in a statement for the press. “Wintergreen is a unique opportunity to bring all of these people together to recognize why Maryland is an exemplary state for green building practices.”

USGBC Maryland’s annual Wintergreen awards program celebrates excellence in green building. It honors outstanding achievements in sustainable design and construction in the state of Maryland. The 9th Annual Wintergreen Awards for Excellence in Green Building were held this February. The USGBC presented 14 awards.

Governor Martin O’Malley won the Leader Award for his work to make Maryland a greener and healthier place to live. In addition to 1901 South Charles, the list of winning projects also includes Roger Carter Recreation Community Center, Foxcroft School-Stuart Hall, The Greens at Irvington Mews, the Fallsway Housing and Service Center, the Southeast CDC Neighborhood Reinvestment Center, the Howard Community College Health Sciences Building, Ducketts Lane Elementary School and Union Wharf.

Photo credits: www.1901southcharles.com

Woody Harrelson Buys Baltimore’s Inn at the Black Olive

16 Mar 2014, 4:45 pm

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

Woody Harrelson is an Emmy Award winner and Oscar nominee. You may know him for his work in ”Cheers,” ”White Men Can’t Jump”, ”Natural Born Killers,” ”The People vs. Larry Flynt,” ”No Country for Old Men,” ”Now You See Me” or ”The Hunger Games.” You may also know him as an environmental and anti-war activist, as PETA’s Sexiest Vegetarian in 2012, or as a supporter of the legalization of marijuana in the United States. What you may not know about this famous Hollywood actor is that he is now the owner of a Baltimore hotel.

The Baltimore Sun reported that the actor, together with John “Jack” Dwyer, founder of Capital Funding Group Inc., acquired the Inn at the Black Olive in Baltimore’s Fells Point neighborhood. The property was purchased in January, for $4.5 million.

The Spiliadis family opened the Inn at the Black Olive in 2011, along Baltimore’s historic waterfront. But they lost it to foreclosure last summer. First Mariner Bank repossessed the property at auction for $3.9 million.

The eco-friendly boutique hotel has 12 large rooms. According to its website, it was constructed using organic building materials, each room has organic bedding and organic towels, and the ingredients used to prepare the meals are, of course, organic.  

It is this feature that attracted Woody Harrelson most. The actor is a well-known vegan. He stayed at the hotel for seven weeks, in 2011, during the filming of HBO’s ”Game Change.” Harrelson enjoyed his stay so much that, when he heard about the hotel’s problems, he immediately offered his help.

Dimitris Spiliadis brought Woody Harrelson and Jack Dwyer together. The local businessman is also a fan of healty living. He became familiar with the Spiliadis family through the health food and “green drinks” they provided for Dwyer’s Bare Hills Racquet and Fitness Club. Dwyer, who invested his own money, not his company’s, and Harrelson will each own half of the Inn at the Black Olive. The Spiliadis family will lease the hotel from the new ownership group and will continue to operate it on the same path, trying to capitalize on the health-conscious green market. The Inn at the Black Olive has three and a half stars on TripAdvisor.

Woody Harrelson currently co-stars in HBO’s crime drama ”True Detective,” alongside Matthew McConaughey, who recently won the Academy Award for Best Actor. He has been spotted in Baltimore several times in the past few years. Now that he owns a hotel here, maybe he’ll visit the city even more.

Photo credits: Steve Rogers
Photo of the Inn at the Black Olive courtesy of The Inn at the Black Olive Facebook.

Office Tower In Baltimore’s CBD Is Now For Sale

10 Mar 2014, 3:50 pm

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

A Baltimore skyscraper located right in the heart of the city’s Central Business District is looking for new owners. The 22-story building at 2 Hopkins Plaza is up for sale. Transwestern is marketing the Class B office tower together with the three-story pavilion building at 10 Hopkins Plaza.

The properties are part of a two-building complex constructed in 1970, by British American Properties, Inc., a defunct UK company. It offers 404,088 square feet of space and was once home to important companies such as Mercantile Safe Deposit and Trust, IBM, Venable or PNC Bank. But in the last few years, it started to lose tenants.

Venable, which occupied 123,374 square feet on eight floors at 2 Hopkins Plaza, left in April 2011. It was followed by PNC Bank, which occupied 202,052 square feet of space in the 378,798-square-foot tower, in September 2012. Although it has already moved to its new location at 1 E. Pratt Street, PNC Bank still holds a lease for space at 2 Hopkins Plaza. It will expire this December. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan occupies about half of the space in the pavilion building at 10 Hopkins Plaza.

Transwestern said that more than $10 million in capital improvements have gone into the office tower over the past decade. Its elevators were modernized in 2012 and the building is also looking to obtain an ENERGY STAR certificate.

Two Hopkins Plaza has one of the largest floor plates in the city. It also enjoys a great location, close to shops, businesses and public transportation, and sits on an underground parking garage with 317 spaces. According to Transwestern, it would be ideal for an apartment conversion.

Offers for the two-building complex are due by April 1. Transwestern did not announce an asking price.

Photo credits: Transwestern

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