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Marketplace at Tech Center in Newport News Hits 70% Pre-Leased Mark

10 Jul 2014, 3:56 am

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

Although work on Marketplace at Tech Center started only this March, the retail component of the $250 million Tech Center at Oyster Point in Newport News is already 70 percent leased, according to Divaris Real Estate, Inc., the property’s manager and leasing agent.

Newport News-based W.M. Jordan Co. is developing the 100-acre Tech Center, which will feature 230,000 square feet of retail, 290 luxury apartments, and 30,000 square feet of specialty office space in addition to the planned research park anchored by Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility.

Meanwhile, Georgia-based S. J. Collins Enterprises is developing the Marketplace at Tech Center. More than 148,000 square feet of the retail space was leased before groundbreaking.

Marketplace at Tech Center will open in July 2015. Its lineup of retailers will include several national brands making their local debuts, including Whole Foods, DSW Shoe Warehouse, BJ’s Brewhouse, PF Chang’s China Bistro, Carters, Café Rio, OshKosh B’gosh, Zoe’s Kitchen and Avalon Spa. The tenant roster also includes Stein Mart, ULTA Salon, Cosmetics and Fragrances, Five Below, Massage Envy, Navy Federal Credit Union, Starbucks, Jimmy Johns Gourmet Sandwiches, Hair Cuttery and Conte’s Bike Shop.

“The draw of Whole Foods has also helped to attract the exciting tenant line up that has been secured for the development,” said Gerald Divaris, chairman & CEO of Divaris Real Estate, in a statement. “Many more exciting retailers will be announced in months to come.”<

Photo credits: Divaris Real Estate, Inc.

Chinese Company Plans $2B Pulp and Paper Plant in Chesterfield County

3 Jul 2014, 1:31 am

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

Shandong Tranlin Paper Co., Ltd., a Chinese pulp and paper company, will invest $2 billion over five years to build its first advanced manufacturing operation in Chesterfield County and create 2,000 new jobs by 2020.  It would be Virginia’s largest-ever Chinese investment and job creation project, as well the largest Chinese greenfield economic development project in the United States.

Tranlin’s new paper and fertilizer plant will be located on an 850-acre campus in the James River Industrial Center. According to studies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension, the massive project could have a proportionately huge economic impact.

For the state’s agricultural sector, for instance, the Tranlin project promises to spark demand for equipment and create jobs both indirectly and directly. Backers say it will help preserve farmland and generate new opportunities for local farmers by using straw and  corn stalks harvested in spring and fall.

“Tranlin represents a tremendous opportunity for Virginia’s corn and small grain producers by creating a lucrative new market for agricultural residuals that are typically left in the field. Based on the agricultural supply chain opportunities associated with the project, the economic benefit to farmers in this region alone could exceed $50 million per year once the project is complete and operating at full capacity,” said Todd Haymore, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, in a statement.

Officials attributed the state’s successful competition for the project to the cooperative efforts of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Chesterfield County, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Greater Richmond Partnership, Dominion Virginia Power, and the Virginia Port Authority.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has approved a $5 million grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund for the project, and the Virginia Jobs Investment Program will provide funding and services to support Tranlin’s employee training activities. The company may also be eligible for a Major Employment and Investment custom performance grant.

McAuliffe said in a statement that the investment ”shows how Virginia is leading the way in attracting innovative businesses to the Commonwealth. Advanced manufacturing jobs are the heart of a strong and growing 21st century economy, and this investment symbolizes the economic recovery taking place across the nation, and will be transformational for the economy of Chesterfield County and the surrounding region . . .  Economic development is a team effort, and it is the collaboration of the entire team that helped to convince Tranlin that Virginia is the best site for its U.S. operation.”

Liberty Property Trust Starts $8.3M Distribution Facility at Eastport Business Center

25 Jun 2014, 9:20 pm

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

Richmond’s industrial market continues to improve in 2014. Falling vacancy and rising rents add up to attractive conditions for speculative development, and Liberty Property Trust is doing just that.

 On June 19, the Malvern, Pa.-based REIT broke ground on a 129.000-square-foot industrial building at Eastport Business Center, a 98-acre office/warehouse distribution center near downtown Richmond. The $8.3 million project is Liberty’s first speculative development in the area since 2008.

We believe the project will offer much needed institutional-quality industrial space to local businesses seeking to expand and to companies looking to locate in the region,” said Craig Cope, vice president and city manager for Liberty’s Virginia region, in a statement for the press.

The new facility will feature 54-foot by 45-foot bays with 60-foot-loading bays, 28-foot clear heights, energy efficient T-5 fluorescent fixtures with motion sensors, an Early Suppression Fast Response fire protection system and tilt-wall construction. The project is designed by Triad Design Group. Arco Design Build is the general contractor while McKinney & Company is the civil engineer. Liberty’s project will join a 700-property portfolio that currently encompasses more than 101 million square feet of office and industrial space.

According to CBRE Group Inc., Richmond’s industrial market has tightened for the seventh quarter in a row, dropping to a vacancy rate of 7.9 percent at the end of the first quarter. Healthy demand for both flex and warehouse space has helped raise average asking rents to $4.19 per square foot.

Charts courtesy of CBRE.

Lingerfelt CommonWealth Buys Richmond Marriott West; Cavalier Hotel Joins National Register of Historic Places

18 Jun 2014, 7:36 pm

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

It’s been a busy month for the Virginia hotel market, with the City of Norfolk and Gold Key | PHR Hotels & Resorts recently starting work on a $126 million hotel/conference center project, and  the opening of the Hilton Garden Inn Virginia Beach Oceanfront. Now, two more hotels are taking the spotlight.

In Glen Allen, Lingerfelt CommonWealth Partners has purchased Richmond Marriott West, a 242-key property at the Innsbrook Corporate Center, where the company is headquartered.

Lingerfelt, which owns about 1 million square feet of office space in the area, did not disclose the purchase price. However, it revealed plans to start a multi-million dollar renovation of the property this fall. Lingerfelt has also selected Marriott International to manage the hotel and oversee the project, which is due for completion by next summer.

Edward C. Denton, executive vice president of CommonWealth Lodging, said in a statement that the renovation will transform the Richmond Marriott West into ”the most modern and desirable hotel for hosting travelers to the Richmond area.”

“We have tremendous confidence in the Marriott brand, in Richmond, and in the Innsbrook Corporate Center,” said Lingerelt’s president & chief investment officer, J. Ryan Lingerfelt. “The Innsbrook area continues to solidify its position as one of the city’s best destinations for quality real estate and quality of life.”

Closer to the Atlantic, a Virginia Beach landmark, the Cavalier Hotel, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. Designed by Clarence Neff, the 87-year-old hotel has hosted seven presidents, along with such notables as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Will Rogers, and Bette Davis.

Following a two-year renovation, the Cavalier will reopen in 2016 as a five-star member of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, and will feature 90 guest rooms, an onsite bourbon distillery, a ballroom for weddings and social events and a world-class restaurant. The Cavalier’s owner, Gold Key | PHR Hotels & Resorts, is collaborating on the project with the architectural firm of Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas + Co. and W.M. Jordan Co.

“We are honored to preserve the history while making the Cavalier Hotel a luxury destination for decades to come,” said Gold Key | PHR’s CEO, Bruce Thompson, in a statement. Also in the works is a $4 million makeover of the Cavalier’s sister property on the oceanfront, which will reopen in 2017 as the Oceanfront Marriott Hotel.

Photo credits: Lingerfelt CommonWealth Partners; Gold Key | PHR Hotels and Resorts.

Hilton Garden Inn Debuts on Virginia Beach Boardwalk

11 Jun 2014, 9:12 pm

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

As summer vacation season gets under way, the Virginia Beach hospitality market has a fresh addition: the Hilton Garden Inn Virginia Beach Oceanfront.

Located on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk, the 167-key hotel is convenient to dining, shopping, entertainment, water activities and a variety of attractions. Among its guest rooms are 24 oceanfront suites with private balconies. Gateway Investments L.L.C. owns the property, which is managed by Professional Hospitality Resources Inc.

Guest amenities include free Wi-Fi, a 24-hour business center, a state-of-the-art fitness center, indoor and outdoor pools, and two oceanfront restaurants, Lager Heads and the Garden Grille. The hotel also features 5,000 square feet of flexible function space and a 3,000-square-foot conference room overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

“Hilton Garden Inn Virginia Beach Oceanfront is a great addition to the iconic boardwalk,” General Manager Stefano Reyes said in a statement. “Guests will enjoy our upscale, all oceanfront rooms and spacious suites, and our expansive sundeck overlooking the ocean really sets us apart from the competition.”

The hotel opens as owners are hopeful of a better year in 2014. Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services Inc. notes that the Mid-Atlantic hospitality market experienced a disappointing 2013. Occupancy was 60.1 percent, a year-over-year decrease of 90 basis points. In particular, the state of Virginia registered sizable declines in room nights and occupancy due to a pullback in government-related demand and reduced household spending.  Average RevPAR in Virginia declined 2.4 percent to $55.69 in 2013, the largest drop in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Image: www.hiltongardeninnvirginiabeach.com
Charts courtesy of Marcus&Millichap.

City of Norfolk, Gold Key | PHR Launch $126M Hotel/Conference Center Project

4 Jun 2014, 5:47 pm

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

The City of Norfolk and Gold Key | PHR Hotels & Resorts started work last month on a $126 million public/private initiative expected to transform the corner of Main and Granby streets in downtown Norfolk. Called The Main, the project is scheduled to open in 2017. The 380,000-square foot facility will include Hilton Norfolk at The Main, a 294-key luxury hotel; The Exchange at The Main, a 50,000-square-foot conference center; and three restaurants.

The 23-story hotel will offer  24 luxury suites and two presidential suites among its guest rooms. Amenities will include an indoor pool, business center, one grand ballroom that can accommodate 1,500 guests, a junior ballroom and car service.

The developers say that Exchange at The Main will be one of the most technically advanced and secure meeting facilities in the United States. It will be certified by the International Association of Conference Centers and will meet standards for Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities in order to  accommodate the security needs of clients like government agencies and defense contractors.. No comparable facility in the Mid-Atlantic region holds both designations.

Exchange at the Main will be a destination not only for business and leisure travelers, but for local residents as well. The first floor will be home to Catch on Granby, an urban seafood bistro. The Varia, an Italian-inspired trattoria, will be located on the second floor, while the fifth floor will be home to the Saluna, a roof garden and lounge.

The project’s development team includes Cooper Carry, lead architect, W.M. Jordan, general contractor, Pompan Hospitality Global Inc., conference center consultant; and Baskervill, the interior designer.

“The Main is a transformational development with a design that gives the city a stunning architectural landmark and will be unique in the conference market,” said Norfolk Mayor Paul D. Fraim in a statement. “Downtown’s newest destination is an investment in our future that will grow and diversify our economy generating jobs and revenue for all of Norfolk. A technologically advanced facility, The Main complements Norfolk’s growing arts, food and entertainment culture.” The project will create over 700 jobs during the construction phase and 850 permanent jobs when it opens.

According to Gold Key | PHR Hotels & Resorts, all public investment will be provided by the Public Amenities Fund and parking system. The fund authorizes a one percent tax on meals and lodging and collects enough money each year to cover the debt service on the conference center.

Rendering: themainnorfolk.com

Construction Starts on Next Phase of Shoppes at Reynolds Crossing; Walmart Anchor Opens

28 May 2014, 2:55 pm

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

Reynolds Development has started construction on the next phase of The Shoppes at Reynolds Crossing in Richmond. The 19,000-square-footl building is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2015.

Located near the intersection of Glenside and Forest avenues, the project was designed by Freeman & Morgan Architects and financed by Park Sterling Bank. According to CBRE|Richmond, the building is 70% leased to tenants that include Starbucks, Chipotle, Jersey Mike’s, Hair Cuttery, Ntelos Wireless, Lee Nails and Salad Works.

“This project is extremely well positioned in the market,” David Crawford, an assistant vice president at CBRE|Richmond, said in a satement. “You have tremendous demand from a dense office population, great traffic counts and access via established infrastructure combined with a need for more food and retail services.”

May has been a busy month for The Shoppes at Reynolds Center. In addition to the construction start on the new retail building, the property’s anchor, a 90,000-square-foot Walmart  on Forest Avenue, opened on May 21.

Richmond’s retail market was relatively quiet during the first quarter, according to CBRE. Vacancy dropped to 8.2 percent, slightly higher than the market’s six-year low of 8.1 percent, as a result of  51,400 square feet of net absorption. Average asking rents decreased to $14.91 per square foot during Q1, due to insufficient demand.

However, the first quarter did register strong preliminary activity, which is expected to generate an uptick in leasing and cut vacancy to pre-recession levels. Retail development in the area remains strong. According to CBRE, 38,613 square feet of new space were delivered during the first quarter, and another  300,000 square feet are under construction.

Rendering and charts courtesy of CBRE.

ViCU Plans June Groundbreaking for Arts Center; Name to Honor Markel Corp. Gift

21 May 2014, 7:23 pm

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

Virginia Commonwealth University will break ground next month on its new Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA). Billed as a combination exhibition and performance space., the 43,000-square-foot facility will include a laboratory and incubator of visual art, theater, music, dance and film.

Scheduled to open in 2016, the ICA will be located within Richmond’s newly designated Downtown Arts District, atBroad and Belvidere streets.  The project will be mostly primarily funded. VCU officials said in a statement that the school has raised nearly $31 million toward its $35 million goal. A $20 million endowment campaign is also under way.

Markel Corp., the Richmond-based financial services company, has made a generous donation to the project. In recognition, the VCU Board of Visitors voted to name the new building the Markel Center.

Steven Holl Architects designed it with dual entrances, one facing Richmond, the other facing the  VCU campus. A double-height “forum” will be located at the heart of the building. Three levels of galleries will radiate from the forum in a forked arm-like configuration. The building’s exterior will feature walls of pre-weathered, satin-finish zinc as well as clear and translucent glass, allowing natural light to enter during the day and radiate out at night.

“The ICA will be vital to the creative ecology of VCU and the community,” said VCU President Michael Rao, in a statement. “Creative problem-solving skills are essential in our world today and this institution will bring new resources to our students and faculty working across the university, the nation and the globe.”

“This institute will also be a significant beacon in Richmond in terms of economic and cultural development and bringing the arts community from around the world to our great city,” Rao added. “The ICA will help put Richmond on the global map as an arts destination.”

Photo credits: Virginia Commonwealth University

Franklin Johnston Brings 2 Affordable Housing Communities to Norfolk

15 May 2014, 2:54 am

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

Virginia Beach-based Franklin Johnston Group is working to bring two new affordable housing communities to Norfolk. Together, the two projects call for the construction of more than 450 units.

Although FSG was founded just last year, the company’s portfolio already includes 38 properties and 5,000-plus units throughout the eastern U.S. One of the firm’s two Norfolk communities is The Crossings at Berkley Station, a 156-unit gated apartment community with a pool, fitness center and playground. FJG plans to start work on the project later this year. The three-story building will be constructed on the 10-acre former site of the Berkley Lumber Yard. It is the first new development in Berkley in years and is expected to revitalize the entire area. FJG did not disclose the cost of the project.

The second Norfolk project is The Pointe at Pickett Farm,. Development is already underway on this $39 million project, and its first phase is expected to open this summer. The Pointe at Pickett Farm will be a 300-unit apartment community, with a clubhouse, swimming pool, fitness center and tot lot. It is being constructed on a 24-acre former horse farm, on Broad Creek.

Recently, FJG has also been selected by Marlyn Development Corp. of Virginia Beach to manage two of its senior housing communities. The two properties are the Forrest Pines Senior Community, scheduled to open next month in Newport News, and The Woodlands, a 132-unit community for independent seniors under construction in the Phoebus community in Hampton.

“We are a market-driven company,” said Taylor Franklin, COO of Franklin Johnston Group, in a statement. “By that I mean that we take great care in determining what apartment niches are not being satisfied and we build to those needs. We see a great need for high quality affordable housing in Hampton Roads and we are leading the way in meeting those needs. Likewise, Marlyn Development is responding to the aging population in the region and the accompanying demand for senior housing. We have extensive experience in senior living management and welcome these two communities to our management portfolio.”

Photo credits: www.pointeatpickettfarm.com

New Owners for Richmond’s 110-Year-Old Mutual Building, Maritime Square Building in Newport News

7 May 2014, 9:10 pm

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

One of Richmond’s first high-rise office buildings is under new ownership. Parmenter Realty Partners has sold the 110-year-old Mutual Building to 909 Main, L.L.C., an entity associated with Shamin Hotels, for about $3.3 million.

Located at 909 Main St. in the city’s central business district, the 12-story building offers 132,434 square feet of space. According to a statement, it was 31 percent leased to a single tenant at the time of the sale.

The new ownership won a competitive bidding through Auction.com. Eric Robison and Catharine Spangler of Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer’s capital markets team handled the sale on behalf of the seller.

“The Mutual Building has an abundance of  history and its location in the Main Street Banking Historic district provides a number of different options for future use.” said Eric Robison, senior vice president at Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer, in a statement.

On April 9, Robinson and Spangler represented Blue Sage Ventures in its $8.6 million acquisition of Maritime Square building, located at 2600 Washington Ave. in downtown Newport News. The new owner is an affiliate of the Simpson Organization of Atlanta, Georgia.

Completed in 1970, the Maritime Square building offers 135,103 square feet of space and was 72% leased at the time of the sale. The property was renovated in 2012, adding improvements to its lobby and common areas, as well as modern, high-quality finishes.

“Maritime Square has a unique presence in the Hampton Roads office market as the only significant office building available for lease in downtown Newport News,” Robison commented in a statement. “The sale to an owner with the experience of the Simpson Organization ensures that the recent leasing momentum and commitment to quality in the building will continue into the future.”

Photo credits: Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer