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The Real Estate Wonk Baltimore's residential real estate and commercial development news
New buyer plans redevelopment of former Sun Products plant

A Baltimore area firm has purchased the former Sun Products Corp. manufacturing plant in Southeast Baltimore with plans to demolish the factory and redevelop the site into warehouses serving companies doing business at the port.

The buyer, Chesapeake Real Estate Group LLC, was attracted to the property for its location and the opportunity to develop a sizable project as growing e-commerce drives demand for distribution centers, said Jim Lighthizer, founder and owner of the firm.

Chesapeake, which started in 2004, has acquired and developed more than 20 properties in the Baltimore-Washington region and has about 2 million square feet of industrial projects planned. This is its first property so close to the port of Baltimore.

"We're very excited to have a property at the port," Lighthizer said. "It complements the other things that we have along [Interstate] 95. It's right in the center of it all. It's the hole in the doughnut we wanted to fill."

The deal for the nearly 47-acre property at...

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New cafe, seating for Pratt Street plaza

The plaza in front of the Transamerica tower in downtown Baltimore is mostly a place to pass through, but officials hope new seating, a cafe, giant blocks screened with images from the Baltimore Museum of Art and other programs will persuade people to pause.

The added amenities, formally introduced Wednesday, build on a Thursday farmer's market that started on the site in 2013 and are part of the Downtown Partnership's broader push to improve the Pratt Street corridor.

"This is a gateway to Baltimore," said Cynthia Nikitin, senior vice president at the New York-based Project for Public Spaces Inc., which helped develop the plans with the Downtown Partnership. Nikitin said she hoped to make the site, between Light and Charles streets, feel like the "biggest stoop in Baltimore."

The Downtown Partnership in 2008 unveiled a $100 million vision for Pratt Street, designed to make the busy thoroughfare more pedestrian-friendly by removing skywalks and berms, overhauling McKeldin Plaza and adding...

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City hopes to get more families to stay

City leaders and nonprofits are focusing in on families as they attempt to halt the city's population decline.

Between 2000 and 2010, the city's population decreased 4.6 percent to just under 621,000, the smallest decrease in decades. But among those of school age — between 5 and 17 — the population plunged nearly 23 percent, the sharpest drop for that age group of any of the state's jurisdictions.

Many didn't go far: Of the net 3,509 children up to age 17 who left the city between 2006 and 2010, about 75 percent landed in Baltimore or Anne Arundel counties, according to new analysis by the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance.

The migration to county pastures in search of bigger homes and more reliable public schools has been happening for years, but city officials believe the time is ripe for a new campaign aimed at retaining families by promoting the city's schools and neighborhoods. It's part of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's signature effort to add 10,000 households to the city.

...

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Station North developer presents apartment plans

Construction of an eight-story apartment building sheathed in contemporary metal with gallery space and a Milk & Honey market on the ground floor could start in Station North by the end of the year, said developer Ernst Valery.

The city's design panel got its first look Thursday at plans for the structure, proposed for the Lanvale Street parking lots behind Valery's Chesapeake Building.

The building, intended to rise over a portion of Lovegrove Street, is to contain 103 market-rate apartments, with roughly 30 parking spots in the back. The project is expected to cost about $20 million, including the purchase of the property, said Ernst Valery, of SA+A Development and Ernst Valery Investments Corp.

Plans for the building, by LSC Design, pick up on the patterned facades of newer, nearby buildings such as the John and Frances Angelos Law Center and MICA's Gateway dormitory. They sailed through the a preliminary approval Thursday, with Planning Director Thomas J. Stosur pronouncing himself...

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COPT acquires Northern Virginia building for $83 million

Corporate Office Properties Trust announced Thursday that it acquired a large office building in Vienna, Va., for about $83 million.

The 10-story building, known as Metro Place II, accommodates 240,400 square feet of Class A office space that is 100 percent leased.

COPT, based in Columbia, is an office real estate investment trust that primarily owns buildings leased by U.S. Government agencies and defense contractors, most of which are engaged in defense information technology and national security.

Metro Place II is in a mixed-use area known as Merrifield that is served by the Metro system and adjacent to the Washington Beltway interchange with Interstate 66.

Last month, COPT acquired a Baltimore office building at 250 W. Pratt Street. It paid $63.5 million for the 24-story, 368,200-square-foot building that is 95 percent leased.

cdinsmore@baltsun.com

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Merritt seeks offices, parking for Canton athletic clubs site

Merritt Properties LLC said Wednesday it wants to redevelop the site of its Canton athletic clubs with a new office building and seven-story parking garage.

The project comes as part of the transformation of the formerly industrial southeastern edge of the city into a hub anchored by projects such as the 17-story 1st Mariner tower, Shops at Canton Crossing and the Brewers Hill apartments. Farther east, construction of a new BJ’s Wholesale Club is expected to begin today.

Merritt’s proposal for the 300-space garage, to be located on the southern edge of its 3401 Boston Street property where a pool is now, would include a new indoor pool on the first level and a second, outdoor one on the top, said Scott Dorsey, the firm’s chairman and CEO.

The Baltimore-area developer also is considering a mid-rise tower on the grounds of its front parking lot, with six floors of parking and five floors of offices representing about 102,000 square feet, he wrote in an email. The first floor would contain...

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