Glenmont finally sees signs of change -- Gazette.Net


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Progress moves in baby steps in Glenmont, the transit-oriented community that developers have bypassed since the last station on the Metro Red Line opened in 1998. But signs — both figurative and literal — emerged this summer that things are moving in this Silver Spring community, which straddles the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Randolph Road.

For one thing, the Montgomery County Council in July revived a plan to tear down Privacy World and replace it with a mixed-use complex. The half-empty 352-unit garden apartment complex would make room for 90,000 square feet of retail space and 1,550 housing units.

The project had been stalled since 2008, when the council bounced the proposal to the county hearing examiner and ordered a review of the project’s impact on traffic in the often-gridlocked neighborhood. Since then, the Great Recession took its toll on the number of people driving to work and the state committed to building an interchange at Georgia and Randolph.

Now, the project’s new developer is preparing a preliminary plan for development, which will come in two stages.

“Mostly townhouses are in [the] first phase,” Pete Jervey, a principal with developer Westpath of Bethesda, said in an email.

The company has no tenants lined up for the second stage of the project, but is looking to sign a grocery store.

Another sign of progress is that the Montgomery County Planning Board held a hearing on the Glenmont sector plan in June and considered ways to prod redevelopment of the 1960s-era Glenmont Shopping Center. A public hearing could follow as early as September, to consider how to encourage the strip mall’s many owners and surrounding properties to create new housing and retail offerings that take advantage of Glenmont’s location next to the end of the Metro line.

After so many years with no development in Glenmont, officials are welcoming the opportunity to produce a payoff for the extensive public investment related to the Metro and the planned interchange.

Councilwoman Nancy Navarro, whose district includes Glenmont, wrote in her August newsletter, “Having more density near Metro is in line with our smart-growth and transit-oriented development priorities. It will also provide much-needed amenities and job opportunities in the Glenmont area.”

Finally, there now are signs — five street signs — that read “Welcome to Glenmont,” as one approaches the crossroads. Four are posted on Georgia Avenue and Randolph Road. A fifth sign visible from the westbound lanes of Layhill Road also announces the approach of Glenmont, for those who might not recognize the iconic blue water tower that pops into view at the top of the hill or who might have missed the Glenmont exit sign coming off of the Intercounty Connector.

The signs, however residents might feel, serve to welcome commuters to Glenmont. More of them are arriving after the April opening of Metro’s second garage, a $24.7 million project that adds 1,200 parking spaces, bringing the total to 3,000.

Archstone pays $75.5M for Rockville apartments

Archstone, the Englewood, Colo., apartment giant, paid $75.5 million for the 237-unit Grosvenor Tower in Rockville, according to Jones Lang LaSalle, which represented the seller, Greystar Real Estate Partners of Charleston, S.C.

Greystar bought the 21-story building at 10301 Grosvenor Lane in 2008 for $87 million and invested $4.2 million in renovations. The property, completed in 1987, is near the convergence of Rockville Pike, Interstate 270 and the Capital Beltway and is within walking distance of the Grosvenor Metrorail station.

The building has been renamed Archstone Grosvenor Tower.

Al Cissel and Scott Melnick of Jones Lang LaSalle handled the deal for Greystar and there was no broker for Archstone.

NIH signs 10-year lease renewal in Bethesda

The National Institutes of Health signed a 10-year lease renewal for a pair of buildings in Bethesda, according to Jones Lang LaSalle, which represented the federal General Services Administration in the deal.

The agency extended its occupancy of 355,950 square feet at 6701 and 6707 Democracy Plaza.

The GSA’s acquisition team was led by Jim Phelan and Glenn Harvey. Jones Lang LaSalle’s Joe Judge and Howard Traul represented the government.

Andrew Abramson represented the building owner, Vornado/Charles E. Smith.

The two buildings are directly off I-270 at Democracy Boulevard, providing direct access to the Beltway.

Jones Lang LaSalle has assisted the GSA in the award of more than 1,200 leases since 2005.

Cushman & Wakefield adds to Columbia leasing portfolio

Cushman & Wakefield said it has been named exclusive listing agent for six additional buildings in Greenfield Partners’ Maryland office and flex portfolio, totaling 205,000 square feet.

In January, Greenfield awarded 20 buildings and almost 650,000 square feet to Cushman, which brings the total listing assignment to 855,000 square feet.

The portfolio comprises buildings in Columbia Gateway, Fox Run Business Center, Columbia Business Center, Oakland Ridge, the Woods at Brokenland and 9020 Mendenhall Court, a 38,253-square-foot, single-story flex building.

A total of 106,497 square feet currently is available for lease within the portfolio.

Cushman & Wakefield’s Richard Thomas, Hayes Merkert, Karen Cherry and Matt Melnick will lease the properties on behalf of Greenfield Partners.

Baltimore County approves $140M project in Owings Mills

A plan to transform a vacant paper cup factory into a $140 million retail and office complex won approval from the Baltimore County Council, despite opposition from nearby commercial property owners.

Baltimore developers Greenberg Gibbons and Vanguard Equities won a 6-1 rezoning vote changing the 52-acre Solo Cup site from manufacturing to retail. The developers intend to demolish the plant and replace it with Foundry Row, a 375,000-square-foot retail project anchored by a Wegmans grocery, and 40,000 square feet of office space.

“We are thrilled with the vote ... this is a major breakthrough for the Greater Owings Mills community,” Brian Gibbons, Greenberg Gibbons’ chairman and CEO, said in a news release. “We applaud members of the County Council for seeing through the negative campaign waged by opposing developers and staying true to what the community wants.”

The vote followed a months-long battle against the project by some community groups and owners of nearby properties, who viewed the Foundry Row project as unwelcome competition in the county’s effort to revitalize Owings Mills as a transit-oriented community surrounding the northwestern terminus of the Baltimore Metro subway system.

About two miles west of the site sits the 1 million-square-foot Owings Mills Mall, which owner Kimco wants to demolish and replace with a town center complex. In between is David S. Brown Enterprises’ Metro Centre, where a 120,000-square-foot municipal services building is under construction, the first start in a project planned to include more than 1 million square feet of office, 300,000 square feet of retail, 1,700 residential units and a 250-room hotel.

All of these developers are contending for storefront advantage in the Reisterstown Road corridor, where Mackenzie Commercial Real estate reported a 13.1 percent retail vacancy rate in the second quarter, which is almost twice as high as the rate in the next submarket in the Baltimore region.

St. John Properties buys 18 acres in business park

St. John Properties of Baltimore announced that it acquired 18 acres in Baltimore Crossroads @95, a 1,000-acre, mixed-use business complex in the White Marsh section of Baltimore County.

The company plans to use the new land to connect two existing parcels and create a contiguous 60-acre building plot. St. John has developed 16 buildings representing 500,000 square feet of commercial office, research and development/flex and retail space in the park since 2004.

Upon completion, Baltimore Crossroads @95 is configured to support more than 5 million square feet of commercial space, plus two hotels and 450,000 square feet of retail space.

“This park remains the largest piece of undeveloped industrial property in the greater Baltimore metropolitan region and, with this new property acquisition, we are making logistics and circulation improvements that better address the needs of our existing and future tenants,” Jerry Wit, St. John’s senior vice president for marketing, said in a statement.

St. John also signed a lease for 12,485 square feet of office space in the park, where EZShield will relocate from Forest Hills, according to broker CBRE, which arranged the deal.

The identity protection company will move into 415 Williams Court, a 25,000-square-foot building completed in 2007.

“In its search for new space that would provide a balance between accommodating existing employees and a labor pool of future employees, EZShield covered a wide geographic area along the Interstate 95 corridor from Linthicum to Abingdon,” Alan Grace, a CBRE vice president, said in a statement. “In addition to the bottom line, however, this selection was as much about the landlord’s competitive posture and flexibility as it was a commitment to a particular geographic location.”

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.