Montgomery suggests plan for Glenmont Metro area -- Gazette.Net


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Montgomery County planners have submitted their draft vision for a new sector plan surrounding the Glenmont Metrorail station that would encourage development of a low-scale, mixed-use transit center.

The plan suggests for the first time that the county could take control of part of an aging strip mall to jump-start redevelopment of the area, which has been stalled for decades.

The plan's goal differs little from other concepts floated since the years before Metro came to Glenmont in 1998, but it offers options to encourage or even force redevelopment of the dilapidated Glenmont Shopping Center.

The focus of the redevelopment — and planners' efforts to craft a land assembly deal among multiple property owners — is the 20-acre strip mall, which dates to 1959 and is anchored by a CVS and Staples office supply store.

The report states that “the most significant and desired change in Glenmont is the complete transformation of the existing Glenmont Shopping Center site into Glenmont Town Center, a mixed-use and pedestrian-oriented hub that maximizes the site's proximity to the Glenmont Metro station and establishes a new image and identity for Glenmont.”

The plan, scheduled for a public hearing before the Planning Board on June 7, calls for redeveloping the strip mall as a low-scale town center with new retail, residential and office space. Stymied by multiple property owners of the strip mall, the only significant changes have been the opening of Staples where a Magruder's grocery once stood and a Shoppers grocery moving into space next to the strip mall where the defunct Hechinger's hardware chain once had a store.

But county planners offered three concepts that rely on different levels of county intrusion to encourage owners to buy into redeveloping the crime-plagued retail strip into a community centerpiece. The plan included the following options to win participation by 13 owners of 15 properties and seven owners of the surrounding parking lot.

Facilitation of voluntary land assembly: Montgomery County can play a proactive role in facilitating land assembly by working directly with property owners as part of a master planning process to encourage them to coordinate and consolidate their parcels as part of a development package. The county then would help them develop a request for proposals for developers and can provide help in selecting a developer. This approach was called “minimally intrusive” and avoids using regulations or incentives to encourage owners to participate. The process could be eased by an expedited plan review process, temporary fee reductions or forgiveness, and designation of a permit facilitation team that meets with developers and property owners.

Creation of a land assembly district: Approval for assembly and sale of land would occur only through a majority vote of property owners. In return for them joining the district, the county could provide incentives such as a density bonus or tax abatement. The report notes that such districts are “still theoretical in nature” but have been advocated by “leading scholars at Harvard University” and others as a solution to redevelopment constraints.

Equity ownership in development and public-private partnership: This would promote creation of a development corporation in which property owners become shareholders based on the pro-rata value of their properties. The development corporation then could seek public or private development partners or a single property owner can become lead developer. The concept could work with a land assembly district as part of a voluntary assembly process, or condemnation and eminent domain policies could be used to secure partial public ownership.

Mixed-use development proposed for Laurel's arts district

Municipal Square in Laurel, where the former Laurel police station sits vacant, likely will be the site for a new mixed-use development, according to city officials.

Klingbeil Capital Management of California signed a contract May 15 to buy the 2-acre property from the city for $2.3 million, to create a mixed-use development called C Street Flats.

On Wednesday, developers will present a proposed concept design to the Laurel City Council for a public hearing, with subsequent hearings in June.

“It's a really great location,” said Karl Brendle, director of the city's department of community planning and business services, adding that the development could make the Patuxent Riverfront Park the center of the downtown area. “You could live here by the riverside, and it's a two-minute walk to the [Laurel MARC] train station. It brings life to the side streets and the river.”

The complex is slated to have about 136 units and amenities, including a pool and a clubhouse, said Jim Callard, Klingbeil Capital Management's president. Callard said the company does not yet have an estimated cost for the project.

Municipal Square is wedged in between B and C streets just off of Main Street, in the heart of the city's fledgling Arts District.

The Main Street area has struggled in recent years with vacancies and a slow economy, officials said, leading the city to adopt policies to try to revitalize the area, including the Arts District designation and incentives to businesses that move there. The Laurel Arts District Exploratory Committee is working to provide direction and proposals for building an arts and entertainment district, with venues for artists and amenities such as restaurants and shopping.

“We've been very encouraged by the [committee] members, by their comments and what they're trying to do with the area,” Callard said. “When you tie that with what the city is trying to do [on Main Street], we think it's a really good site and a really good investment.”

Space will be available in the development for artists to live and work, with the opportunity for gallery space and studios in the retail section of the development, though Callard said the square footage has not been nailed down.

Home Properties announces 10 properties for sale

Home Properties of Rochester, N.Y., announced that it has put 10 apartment properties up for sale in the Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York regions.

Home Properties owns thousands of apartment units in the Baltimore-Washington corridor and is planning more. Major development projects include Eleven55 Ripley, two buildings that will offer 379 luxury apartments in downtown Silver Spring when completed late next year. The company also plans to redevelop part of the historic Falkland Chase complex in Silver Spring, where it will build about 1,200 new units and a Harris Teeter grocery.

The company said the undisclosed properties it plans to sell have an estimated value in excess of $300 million.

The sales mark a sharp reversal in the company's asset disposition plans. It sold no properties in 2010 and 2011 and said in its annual report released Feb. 27 that it planned to sell properties worth $50 million to $150 million this year.

California teachers' pension fund takes control of LCOR

The California State Teachers' Retirement System announced that it bought majority control of LCOR, developer of the North Bethesda Center mixed-use complex, in a deal worth more than $800 million.

The pension fund said it acquired a 90 percent stake in the Berwyn, Pa., developer, whose holdings include the 2.7 million-square-foot North Bethesda complex that is home to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission headquarters, as well as major holdings in Tysons Corner, Va., New York City and elsewhere. The deal also includes extensive properties owned by LCOR's former partner, Lehman Brothers.

The deal ends LCOR's 14-year relationship with Lehman Brothers, which survived the Wall Street bank's collapse in 2008 that helped trigger the worldwide financial meltdown and Great Recession.

"This is an excellent outcome for these properties and for all of the constituents who will benefit, including our creditors. It is another successful example of our strategy to monetize assets that are stable and liquid, and to actively manage and invest in quality entities like LCOR when doing so can contribute significant added value," said Jeff Fitts, Lehman's head of real estate, in a statement.

LCOR, which is building a second apartment tower near the NRC offices at the White Flint Metrorail station, manages more than 7,400 multifamily units, 7.7 million square feet of commercial space, and a substantial development pipeline of mixed-use real estate.

The teachers' fund brings deep pockets to LCOR. Its portfolio was valued at $153.7 billion as of April 30.

Medical insurer signs 68,470-square-foot lease in Elkridge

XLHealth/United Healthcare Services leased 68,470 square feet at Meadowridge 95, a two-story office building in Elkridge, according to broker Cassidy Turley, which represented the tenant.

The Howard County property, at 6514 Meadowridge Road, is certified gold by the U.S. Green Building Council. XLHealth of Baltimore is a newly acquired operating division of United Healthcare Services, the medical insurer in the U.S.

Merritt Properties owns Meadowridge 95.

The play's the thing for Redwood Trust

The Helm Foundation bought the Redwood Trust building in downtown Baltimore on behalf of the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company for $1.25 million, according to Transwestern, which brokered the sale.

The 18,500-square-foot building at 200 E. Redwood St. is one of the few remaining buildings that survived fire of 1904 that burned down much of the central business district. The property, which has been home to a series of nightclubs in recent years, was built in 1885 for the former Mercantile Trust and Deposit Co. and served as a bank until 1993.

Once the lease expires for the Dubai nightclub in January, the new owners plan to convert the interior into a 250-seat theater, requiring an additional $4.75 million in improvements. The seller completely restored the building interior in 2001 at a cost of $2.2 million, which included Corinthian columns, high coffered ceilings and new electrical, plumbing and other systems. The building was awarded the Historic Preservation Award for excellence in rehabilitation in 2002 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Transwestern represented the seller and Colliers International represented the buyer.

KBE Building finishes Rockville retail renovations

KBE Building has completed renovations of the 130,000-square-foot Montrose Crossing retail center at the intersection of Rockville Pike and Randolph Road in Rockville.

The Columbia company worked with Perkowitz+Ruth architects on the project, which entailed renovating the former Levitz building for a 60,441-square-foot Bob's Discount Furniture store and 24,890 square feet of retail space for A.C. Moore, according to a KBE statement.

KBE also managed construction of the Nebel Street Extension, a new roadway along the existing railroad.

The project won Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, by having 97 percent of demolition materials recycled; using local materials; increasing capacity for storm water management; and installing a reflective white roof to cut cooling costs, according to KBE.

Commercial real estate news items may be mailed to Robert Rand, The Business Gazette, 9030 Comprint Court, Gaithersburg, MD 20877; emailed to rrand@gazette.net; or faxed to 301-670-7183.