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The Real Estate Wonk
Baltimore's residential real estate and commercial development news
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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Enoch Pratt selects temporary home for Central Library books

Some of the 1.4 million books housed at the central branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library are set to move to less distinguished digs: a 40,000-square-foot space in a Westport warehouse.

The temporary relocation is expected to start in the spring, as work gets underway on a nearly $115 million renovation of the central library building, said Enoch Pratt Director of Communications Roswell Encina. The project, planned to proceed in stages and finish in 2018, includes new bathrooms, mechanical systems, restoration of the architecture and updates to the property's technology capabilities.

The 1930s-era building is to remain open to patrons during the renovation, with a selection of books on-hand. A small fleet of trucks will transfer any requested materials to and from the warehouse, located at 1915 Annapolis Road.

“The site will be a construction site so it’s going to take a lot of maneuvering,” Encina said.

The library has not settled on which items will be sent off-site. But, he joked,...

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City group offers $50,000 home purchase incentive

A Baltimore advocacy organization is offering $50,000 in housing assistance by lottery as part of an information fair for would-be homebuyers in the Waverly area on Saturday. The event at the Weinberg Family Center Y, 900 East 33rd Street, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. includes a neighborhood walking tour, and a chance to talk with mortgage lenders, real estate agents and representatives of Baltimore City Housing and the state. Those attending the event, which costs $10, will be eligible to apply for 10 awards of $5,000 each toward down payment and closing costs. After the event held by Live Baltimore — an independent nonprofit that promotes living in the city — a lottery will be conducted to select 10 winners from a pool of people who meet the requirements for the housing incentive program.

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Ravens' Eugene Monroe looks to enter real estate

Ravens offensive tackle Eugene Monroe has more than four years left on his team contract, but he's already trying his hand at another game: real estate.

The 27-year-old player founded a development firm in February with a former college teammate. The business, 4th Down Partners, is one of a group of investors in the $250 million redevelopment planned between Federal Hill and M

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Chase Brexton names director for new LGBT health center in Mount Vernon

Chase Brexton Health Care has selected a former Catholic Charities administrator to lead its new LGBT Health Resources Center, set to open in the primary care provider's Mount Vernon headquarters this spring.

Nate Sweeney, 36, will serve as executive director of the new center in its mission to connect members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community with medical and behavioral health services "with culturally competent providers, support and programming for seniors, transgender counseling and more," Brexton said Monday.

"Nate brings tremendous experience and accomplishments as a medical caregiver, administrator and innovator," said Brexton CEO Richard Larison in a statement. "His expertise serving elders, his work on a national HIV behavioral surveillance study in Baltimore and his commitment to the LGBT community make him ideal to direct the resource center."

Chase Brexton was started in Baltimore as a gay health clinic by a small group of volunteers in 1978, and...

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