Surfside Sally's site gets a quieter tenantFells...


Surfside Sally's site gets a quieter tenant

Fells Point, hang on: There's a new tenant for the space vacated by Surfside Sally's, the Brown's Wharf bar whose customers were considered rowdy and crazed even by Fells Point standards. And the landlord, Constellation Real Estate Inc., said this time will be different.

Lista's Restaurant will open in June, serving New Mexican food out of a 14,500-square-foot space on the waterfront, Constellation spokesman Larry Lichtenauer said. The entertainment, far from the late-night dancing of Surfside Sally's, will include roaming guitar players and art exhibits keyed to Mexican holidays.

Owners of the new restaurant are Kathy and Ruben Evangelista. The Evangelista family, which has been running restaurants for 50 years, runs a 170-seat restaurant in Virginia Beach, Va. The Baltimore restaurant will hold about 300 seats for general dining. There will also be a small banquet area.

"We're after a fine-dining crowd," Mr. Evangelista said.

Plans call for removing part of the second floor to create an atrium ringed by a balcony, with a first-floor fountain completing the effect. "We're going to scare that former Surfside Sally's crowd away," he said. "As soon as they look in the windows, they'll say,'This is not our place any more.' "

Mr. Evangelista said the restaurant's food will be based on cuisine of New Mexico, which is milder than Tex-Mex food. Chiles used in New Mexican cooking are "more sweet than hot," he said.

Berman bestows its first master's degrees

When the going got tough in real estate development, Liz Blankenship got going -- to school.

Ms. Blankenship, a vice president at the Prime Group in Baltimore, was one of 22 graduates Monday in the first class to earn a master's degree in real estate from Johns Hopkins University's Allan L. Berman Real Estate Institute.

Ms. Blankenship's motives for enrolling in the program were pretty simple.

"Survival of the fittest comes to mind," she said. "When the real estate industry went down, I figured the ones staying in the field will be the ones with the highest skill level."

She says the institute helped develop her skills, and networking with other students, who tend to be midcareer types, helped land her current job.

"The school did a good job of getting instructors who are actual practitioners in the field," she said. "You had real estate lawyers teaching the law class, real development managers teaching the management class, you had one of the best urban planners in the country teaching the urban planning."

Paul Belz of Lutherville, another graduate, had an answer for the question that anyone going to such a professional school faces: Why not just go into the business and learn that way?

"Since no deals are being done, it's hard to learn it by working for a developer," he said. "They're all going into asset management."

SBA construction loans are still available

For all the fuss over the suspension of loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration's 7(a) loan guarantee program, SBA real estate construction loans are still available.

The SBA's 504 program still offers loan guarantees of up to $1 million, as long as the money is spent on long-term financing of fixed assets such as buildings or equipment, said Robert S. Klepper, an economic development financing consultant for Mid-Atlantic Certified Development Co. The nonprofit company acts as a liaison between the SBA and Maryland borrowers.

Mid-Atlantic will lend up to $1 million to companies with annual sales of less than $6 million, Mr. Klepper said. That loan is guaranteed by the SBA if the borrower qualifies.

In most cases, applicants must show that their loans would save or create one job for every $35,000 of guaranteed loan proceeds. Borrowers must make a 10 percent down payment on the asset to be financed, a bank must lend 50 percent of the cost without an SBA guarantee and Mid-Atlantic can cover the remaining 40 percent, Mr. Klepper said.

"If we're dealing with profitable, expanding companies, banks would like to see them put 25 to 30 percent cash into the deal," Mr. Klepper said. "But if he's an expanding manufacturer, he's got better things to do with his cash."

The 7(a) program, the SBA's most popular loan-guarantee program, has used up its money for the federal fiscal year that ends in October.

Alex. Cooper auctions two key properties

Alex. Cooper Auctioneers Inc. had a good week last week, selling the 25-acre site of the former Papillon restaurant in Ellicott City for $885,000 to SDC Group Inc. of Ellicott City and the former Gardiner's Furniture showroom and warehouse in Essex to a mail-order company for $750,000.

SDC plans to build housing on the Papillon site, said Steven K. Breeden, a vice president of the firm, which is affiliated with the better-known Security Development Corp. He said the plans will require a zoning change, and SDC must figure out how to work around steep slopes and flood plain on part of the land.

"You have to look at the usable acreage," Mr. Breeden said. "It's going to take some time."

He said the site could hold about 50 single-family homes or 100

town houses.

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