Action at Port Covington
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Real Estate Bisnow (BALT)

Action at Port Covington

Finmarc has sold the 59-acre Port Covington Shopping Center on the Southern Peninsula for $35M. Even the seller doesn't know the identity of the buyer (whenever that happens we imagine the buyer is billionaire Bruce Wayne or the Count of Monte Cristo), but Finmarc's history with the site lends some insight into its future.

Finmarc's David Fink (left, snapped this morning with partner Marc Solomon in their Bethesda office) tells us Starwood Ceruzzi developed a 130k SF Sam's Club and 142k SF Walmart in '02 and sold the acreage and stores to Finmarc in '05. Sam's closed in '08, and Walmart is still operating. Despite Finmarc's retail focus, it started to see mixed-use potential and imagined town homes, multifamily, office, and retail there. But demand never was consistent enough for the developer to pull the trigger. Many offers have come along over the years, but Finmarc was in a position to hold. This latest offer, though, was good for both parties, David says. He describes the buyer as having a longer horizon than Finmarc.

CohnReznick (Think2) MBALT

Here's the the site's waterfront. Though residential demand is hotter than it's been since Finmarc bought Port Covington, the company has since decided to diversify beyond retail. If fully developed, Port Covington would have been its largest property by far. Over the past 18 months, Finmarc has acquired or sold $279M worth of assets and are seeking more investment ops in the Mid-Atlantic.

KBE Building (HigherEd) BALT
CohnReznick (Funds2) BALT

Sports Authority Signs at Foundry Row

Yesterday, H&R Retail's Geoff Mackler (with colleague David Ward) told us his company signed Sports Authority to join LA Fitness and Wegmans at Greenberg Gibbons' Foundry Row. As for retail in the city, he says Caves Valley's project at Key Highway and Lawrence Street (Walgreens will open on the ground floor in April and MedStar will take occupancy of the top two in May) will set the high bar for multi-level, non-residential development in Federal Hill. That neighborhood also is getting a shot in the arm from Solstice Partners, War Horse, and Bozzuto's planned residential project a block away at Lawrence and Fort Avenue.

UMD (Green2) BALT

Booz Allen & a Winning Bet

Booz Allen Hamilton renewed 35k SF in Manekin and Alex. Brown Realty's 4692 Millennium Dr in Belcamp's Water's Edge Campus, Colliers' Matt Haas told us yesterday. The tenant has another 20k SF in 4694, and the leases expire in about four years. The deal must be a relief for the owners, considering Aberdeen's 53% Class-A office vacancy. Harford County offered no Class-A office space 10 years ago, and now there are millions of SF serving Aberdeen Proving Grounds and the defense industry, Matt says, but BRAC-related activity wasn't as robust as anticipated. He and colleague Kevin Haus repped the landlords, and JLL's James Cahill repped Booz Allen.

Above, Georgia Tech alumni Cole Schnorf and Alton Fryer (both of Manekin) pay their debt at Coal Fire to U of M grads Matt (left) and Adam Nachlas of C&W; every time the basketball teams meet, the loser's supporters buy lunch while wearing the opponent's jerseys. This was the gambling foursome's last hurrah, though, as Maryland is leaving the ACC for the Big Ten.

Baltimore's Imprint on International Markets

Ahsin Rasheed, CEO of Baltimore-based architecture firm DDG, told us yesterday over Skype from Dubai (between stints in Jakarta and Istanbul, in case you already felt trapped by this winter) that his firm landed its first gig in Ghana. (The company started in Johannesburg 43 years ago and has experience in 50 countries, including South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Egypt). In Ghana, which has one of Africa's fastest-growing economies, it's designing a 250k SF retail project on 22 acres on George Walker Bush Highway in Accra, the capital. The New England-based developer is in talks to as much as quadruple the land, so DDG also is doing some master-planning for hotel and residential uses. Ahsin says the first phase will be mid-market retail, though what he designs will be a model for the country, considering it has only one multi-story mall that has escalators.

Above is DDG's 646k SF Grand Metropolitan mall in Bekasi, Indonesia, an hour outside Jakarta. A five-hour drive from Accra, in Kumasi, Ahsin is designing a similar program to Accra, but it'll also include a public green space for gatherings and entertainment/performances, a little Central Park, so to speak. Ahsin says Ghana has national names like KFC and Coca-Cola, but it's not at Starbucks status yet. The developer instead will go after South African names, which boast a more Western influence, especially for the cinema and food court. Each project also will have grocery and department store anchors. DDG moves fast: It started the assignment earlier this month, Ahsin went to Ghana to inventory the market three weeks ago, it'll deliver the first concept next month, and the developers want to be moving dirt by the end of the year.

Bisnow (Niche-White) HALF

If Eating Oysters Is What They've Got to Do

At a recent NAIOP Developing Leaders' event at Ryleigh's Oyster in Hunt Valley, Lee & Associates' Marley Welsh and Kate Jordan flank Heath Design Group's Nicole Wilhelm. Kate recently closed a 22k SF lease at 9570 Berger Rd, completing the 51k SF building's lease-up. And in her 10th month in the brokerage biz, Marley completed a 6.5-acre land lease that involved a zoning special exception, plus a pair of 10k SF industrial deals, one of which resulted from literal cold-calling (knocking on doors in this weather). She adds that there's increased activity on long-vacant space.

Our roommate calls this America Week, what with the State of the Union, the Super Bowl, and Olympics fever. Email

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