Finmarc pays $33 million for nine buildings in Gaithersburg -- Gazette.Net


Bethesda-based Finmarc Management Inc. announced that it bought a nine-building portfolio in Gaithersburg from First Potomac Realty Trust for $33 million.

The 342,000-square-foot deal includes a mixture of flex/office, commercial office, retail and warehouse space. The portfolio is 82 percent leased.

The former First Potomac portfolio includes:

— Girard Place, a 175,000-square-foot complex of flex/office and warehouse space at 602, 620, 630 and 640 E. Diamond Ave.

— Girard Business Center, 123,000 square feet of flex/office and warehouse space at 200 and 220 Girard St. and 504 E. Diamond Ave.

— Gateway Center, a 45,000-square-foot office and retail project at 811 and 831 Russell Ave.

Girard Place and Girard Business Center sit across from each on Girard Street near Interstate 270, the Intercounty Connector, Md. 355 and the Shady Grove Metro Station. Gateway Center offers direct access to I-270 and sits next to Lakeforest Mall.

Significant tenants contained within the portfolio are Communication Supply Corp., The Foundation Schools, Family Services and Quaker City Motor Parts.

The acquisition was part of a 1031 tax-free exchange.

Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Service code allows firms or individuals to defer capital gains taxes on sales involving the trade of similar business or investment properties.

Finmarc used a portion of the proceeds generated from its sale last week of the 58-acre Port Covington retail development in south Baltimore for $35 million. The complex includes a 142,000-square-foot Wal-Mart and a former 130,000-square-foot Sam’s Club, which has been vacant since 2008.

Finmarc cited research by broker Cushman & Wakefield showing that the Montgomery County flex/office market has a vacancy rate slightly more than 11 percent and has experienced positive absorption over the past nine months. Rental rates have steadily risen about 7 percent over the past two years.

Eric Berkman, Steve Gichner and Gideon Gil of Cushman Wakefield represented First Potomac in the transaction.

From hotels to health care

Holy Cross Health signed a 54,449-square-foot lease at the Colesville Business Park in northern Silver Spring. It will fill space left vacant six months ago when Choice Hotels moved its headquarters to Rockville, according to CBRE, which brokered the deal for landlord American Realty Capital Properties.

The building, at 10720 Columbia Pike, sits in the U.S. 29 corridor near the Intercounty Connector interchange. The 230,000-square-foot business park was hard hit last year, when Choice gave up about 192,000 square feet of space to move to its new 138,000-foot-home next to the Rockville Metro station.

About $10 million in renovations have fueled interest in the complex, which offers an “opportunity for corporate branding,” CBRE Vice President Andy Cole said in a press release.

Built between 1971 and 1986, the business park offers some of the largest blocks of contiguous office space in the area. Its renovation program includes a new state-of-the-art conference center and full-service cafe.

Holy Cross, which will house administrative functions in the new space, will absorb about 25 percent of the property. The remaining two available buildings span about 163,000 square feet.

Cole and CBRE’s Larry Thau represented the property owners, a subsidiary of American Realty Capital Properties.

Carr tops out speculative office building in Bethesda

Carr Properties topped out construction for 4500 East West Highway, a 220,400-square-foot speculative office building that is nearing completion in downtown Bethesda.

It is part of a speculative office trend in the market, which has gone from moribund to a small boom since the recession ended.

The building, marketed by broker Transwestern, is rising on the space formerly occupied by a McDonald’s opposite Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. It is being promoted as a corporate headquarters trophy space two blocks from the Bethesda Metro station.

The nine-story property has platinum pre-certification by the U.S. Green Building Council and will include more than 13,000 square feet of street-level retail, a four-level garage and a 4,500-square-foot rooftop terrace.

Transwestern’s Phillip McCarthy, Keith Foery and Jovi McAndrew are the leasing agents for the Carr project. The building is expected to be delivered this summer.

The project, built by Clark Construction, is the first new Class A office building to be completed in Bethesda since 2001.

But almost 305,000 square feet of space hit the market in 2012.

That year, B.F. Saul delivered 185,470 square feet of renovated space at 7700 Old Georgetown Road and Akridge completed its 119,239-square-foot, top-to-bottom reclamation of a former federal office building it bought at auction for $12.5 million in 2010.

Last year, the Bernstein Cos. won approval for Bethesda Center, a mixed-use complex that would include a 253,787-square-foot office building and a 222-room hotel on properties currently occupied by the Bethesda Court Hotel at 7740 Wisconsin Ave., Tako Grill and the Connor Building, a two-story office and retail center. Delivery is targeted for 2016, assuming Bernstein can line up a major office tenant.

Silver Spring Citron apartments win ‘living’ award

The new Citron garden apartments in downtown Silver Spring won the Best In American Living Award from National Association of Homebuilders, according to SK+I, the project’s Bethesda-based architect,

The 222-unit Citron complex, at 815 Pershing Drive, was completed last year by developer Foulger-Pratt Cos. The home builders honored the five-level project in the five-story or greater category.

The four-building Citron is pulled back from the corner of Cedar Street and Ellsworth Drive, creating a small public plaza and a gateway leading into downtown. The complex offers a mix of unit types, including some ground-level apartments that have direct access to the street from a series of stoops. Mezzanine lofts on the upper floors offer views of downtown Silver Spring, and interior units overlook an interior courtyard that includes a fountain and outdoor fireplace.

The Citron won silver certification last year from the U.S. Green Building Council. Among its features will be an electric vehicle charging station.

The $30-million project includes 31 affordable housing units.

Software firm Altum expands in Rockville

Reston-based Altum, Inc., a grants-management software firm, has opened a new 3,457-square-foot office in Rockville, according to Scheer Partners, which brokered the lease.

Altum moved into 1801 Rockville Pike, a 181,150-square-foot building owned by TA Associates. The firm needed the space to service a contract in its collaborative effort with Social & Scientific Systems for the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

Scheer Partners Senior Vice Presidents Matt Brady and Nathan Crowe represented Altum, which has locations in Reston and London, England.