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The Real Estate Wonk
Baltimore's residential real estate and commercial development news
City reviews Harbor Point park

Designs for a public plaza in Harbor Point came in for questions Thursday, with members of the city's design panel asking developer Michael Beatty to return for another session before they sign off on the project.

Beatty Development Group is seeking approval to start its third building on the roughly 28-acre site between Harbor East and Fells Point. The first, the Thames Street Wharf offices that houses Morgan Stanley, sold for $89 million earlier this year. The second, a 20-story tower for energy giant Exelon Corp.'s regional headquarters is underway.

The third would be a 289-unit apartment building on Point Street, fashioned in burgundy and pumpkin pie brick with silver trim that rises to 17 stories at its tallest point.  Beatty, who declined to estimate the project cost, said he hopes to complete it around the same time as the new Exelon tower in 2016.

"We really take seriously the importance of this building, not only how it fits into Baltimore, but how it fits into the context of...

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Newest Jones Falls valley mill renovation could start early next year

Terra Nova Ventures hopes to break ground early next year on its newest mill project – apartments, offices and a market near Hampden in the Jones Falls valley.

The firm last week closed on financing for the $22 million Whitehall cotton mill project, acquired the 3300 Clipper Mill Road building and received permits, principal David Tufaro said Tuesday.

The plans – presented and approved last year – call for 28 apartments, about 22,000 square feet of office space and 18,000 square feet of first-floor shopping, an area roughly twice the size of the Belvedere Square market area. The design reserves space for a 6,000-square-foot restaurant in the former boiler house with a terrace overlooking the Jones Falls.  There is also parking for 160 cars.

The $22 million cost includes about $2.4 million for the land and $5.6 million in federal and historic tax credits, Tufaro said.

The property, located downstream from beer and pizza place Birroteca and upstream from Terra Nova Ventures' Mill No. 1,...

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Kinglet closes angel round of financing

A Baltimore start-up that wants to be the Airbnb for office space said Monday it has raised $500,000 in angel funding.

Kinglet, which is targeted at small- and medium-sized businesses looking for shorter-term space, has about 285 individual spaces on its site at 25 different properties. The firm, which launched the platform in September and charges the renter a 10 percent service fee, wants to reach more than 800 individual spaces by the end of June.

“This investment will allow Kinglet to expand into additional markets such as Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia in 2015,” co-founder Jeff Jacobson said in a statement. “Hiring talented developers will also be a priority as we continue to provide an innovative online marketplace for landlords, entrepreneurs and small businesses.”

Local investors in the angel round include Under Armour CFO Brad Dickerson, as well as David Williams, CEO of Columbia-based customer marketing firm Merkle Inc. and Chris Brandenburg, co-founder of Millennial...

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Demolition planned for former Acme site in West Baltimore

The city has set aside nearly half a million dollars to tear down a crumbling building on property it purchased in west Baltimore about 10 years ago in an effort to spur revitalization in the area, officials said.

Safety concerns – not development plans – triggered the push to demolish the dilapidated warehouse at 2201 Mosher St., said Baltimore Development Corp. President William H. Cole IV. The property was used by the Acme supermarket chain until it pulled out of the area years ago.

The Department of General Services is to oversee the $490,000 demolition of the warehouse, which was approved by the Board of Estimates last week.

“There’s no active development plan. It really is a safety issue more than anything,” Cole said. “It’s about to fall down.”

The city purchased the property for $1.9 million in 2005 as part of a set of five parcels subsequently marketed for redevelopment as the Acme Business Center.

The 10.7-acre assemblage of properties was met with little interest from...

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Seasons at Bel Air sells for $80 million

A Harford County apartment complex that spent years in receivership has sold for $80 million, said the brokerage firm that worked on the deal.

The 732-unit Seasons at Bel Air was purchased by Hampshire Properties, a privately-held Brooklyn-based real estate firm that focuses on buying undervalued properties and holding them long-term, according to CBRE Capital Markets, which arranged the sale and financing for the deal after title battles cleared this summer. Hampshire Properties will likely start renovating the Bel Air apartments as they turn over and raise rents, said CBRE vice chairman Bill Roohan.

“It’s a great value-add,” he said.

Older multi-family complexes have been strong performers across the mid-Atlantic region, with rents increasing an average of 2 percent to 3.5 percent each year, he said. Newer properties, by contrast, face more competition, and in some cases, owners in less desirable areas have had to lower rents, he said.

The average rent at the Seasons at Bel Air...

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BDC boosts lending in 2014

The amount of money loaned by the city’s economic development arm more than quadrupled between 2013 and 2014, according to an audit of the Baltimore Development Corp. presented Thursday at its monthly board meeting.

The increase in lending by the quasi-public agency comes as Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake emphasizes assistance to small businesses as part of her development strategy. A report released this week calls on the city to dedicate an additional $500,000 to small loans for start-up firms.

The BDC made $577,000 in loans during the fiscal year that ended June 30, up from $130,00 in 2013. About $3.1 million was available in loan funds at the end of June.

The increased lending came with added risks: The BDC wrote off $168,487 in bad debt during the fiscal year that ended June 30, up slightly from $131,128 in 2013. After the monthly board meeting, BDC officials declined to identify the bad loans, saying they wanted to check disclosure rules first.

The BDC took in about $7.9 million...

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