Thursday, March 30, 2017

BizWeekly 1/17/2017

January 17, 2017

Posted in: Latest News

HHC Acquires Two Downtown Columbia Office Buildings
The Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC) has expanded its holdings in Downtown Columbia with the acquisition of the American City Building (ACB), which sits adjacent to Whole Foods Market on Little Patuxent Parkway; and One Mall North, positioned on the outside of the ring road surrounding The Mall in Columbia. Both purchases were underwritten in view of their future development potential.
The purchase of ACB for $16.5 million unlocks the potential for redevelopment in the Lakefront District in Downtown Columbia for up to 1.5 million square feet of additional density, as its acquisition allows for termination of restrictive covenants on neighboring parcels of the company’s holdings. Specific plans for the ACB site and its adjacent surface parking lot contemplate complete demolition of the existing structure, which is mostly vacant, and development of a new, mixed-use project with multi-family, retail and restaurant space.
One Mall North, which is 100% leased, is a 97,500-square-foot, four-story office building. The low-rise structure and surface parking totals 5.37 acres. The building is currently leased to a diverse roster of tenants, including medical, financial, engineering and technology companies, with minimal near-term rollover. The in-place net operating income is approximately $1.6 million, and the purchase price is $22.25 million. The longer-term value creation opportunity is due to the site’s underlying zoning potential, which allows for a variety of uses, including retail, office and multi-family, with new construction of up to nine stories. This makes the parcel suitable for significant future redevelopment.
Expansion of the company’s footprint in Downtown Columbia follows several significant milestones recently achieved in keeping with the 2010 Downtown Columbia Plan, including the approval of a $90 million tax increment financing (TIF) plan on Nov. 9, 2016, by Howard County government, to fund critical public infrastructure improvements in the Merriweather District, including significant roadwork and a 2,500-space parking structure. The District is a 5-million-square-foot, mixed-use development that is part of the larger Downtown Columbia redevelopment, which has up to 14 million square feet of vertical entitlements.
“As I noted in my most recent shareholder letter, we have high expectations for the continued growth of Downtown Columbia, and to date, several vibrant companies have chosen to relocate to our community,” said David Weinreb, CEO of HHC. “We continue to generate significant interest from a variety of businesses as we grow the employment opportunities in the heart of Downtown Columbia. Our goal is to find additional companies that will thrive in this highly educated, abundant and expanding labor pool.”
Kittleman to File Bills Protecting Property Rights, Ag Community
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman has announced he will file two bills: one to restore property rights to more than 30 county landowners in western Howard County, and a second that would help protect farming operations. In addition, Kittleman announced he also will file a Zoning Regulation Amendment (ZRA) to assist farmers in maximizing the use of their land for agriculture. Kittleman seeks to restore property rights to three-dozen properties by shifting them from the state’s Tier IV designation, the most restrictive level, to Tier III, essentially restoring what previously existed under the county’s zoning regulations.

“This is about property rights and the expectation that property values will not be summarily decreased. I believe these property owners invested in their land with certain expectations, and their property rights should not have been disregarded. Many of our farm families rely on the value of their land to help fund farming operations, such as using lines of credits and other financing tools,” Kittleman said. “The state passed a law to help protect the Chesapeake Bay, which is admirable. But individual counties have the responsibility to apply the tiers. The way the tiers were adopted in Howard County three-and-a-half years ago took away rights from property owners without any compensation.”
The right-to-farm bill would improve county farmers’ ability to conduct agricultural operations by discouraging “nuisance suits.” If passed, the bill encourages the court to require plaintiffs to cover all legal costs in civil suits if the court finds the farming operation was not a “nuisance.”
The tiers issue involves Maryland’s Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012, which sought to decrease new development in areas served by septic systems to help protect the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The law required local jurisdictions to adopt “Growth Tiers.” Tier IV severely limits the ability to develop subdivisions. The legislation proposed by Kittleman would move impacted properties from Tier IV into Tier III, restoring zoning previously determined by the county as Rural Residential and Rural Conservation.
Additionally, Kittleman plans to file a ZRA eliminating setback requirements from new residential development for farms where the owner builds an accessory structure in the future. The ZRA would not impact current agricultural setbacks from residential development that has already been recorded. The Growth Tiers and right-to-farm bills will be filed Jan. 26. A public hearing is scheduled for Feb. 21 and the Howard County Council is scheduled to vote on the legislation March 6.

Certificate of Need Approved for the First Stand-Alone Detox in Maryland

Linthicum-based Maryland House Detox and Delphi Behavioral Health Group (DBHG) have announced that the Maryland Health Care Commission has approved a Certificate of Need for the first private, stand-alone impatient detox center in Maryland.

“In the midst of the opioid epidemic, we are proud that Maryland House Detox will stand as a beacon of hope to provide on-demand treatment services to the communities of Maryland,” CEO David Stup said.

“As we continue to battle substance abuse in Anne Arundel County, this new facility will help us in our fight,” said County Executive Steve Schuh. “Expanding treatment options is crucial to helping turn the tide against the heroin and opioid epidemic in our county.”

High Rating for TRACKHoward Performance Management Initiative From GFOA
Howard County has received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) of the United States and Canada. The award is the highest form of recognition in government budgeting. While this is the 24th consecutive year that Howard County has received the award, it is the first time that its strategic plans and performance measures received high ratings.

“When we implemented the TRACKHoward initiative to enhance transparency and accountability, we put in place a performance measurement program that allows us to use data to improve the delivery of services and communicate to the public how we are doing,” said Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman. Because of that effort, for the first time, critical performance information presented in the budget document, including strategic goals, objectives and performance measures, received ratings of “outstanding” from the GFOA reviewers.

In reviewing the county’s presentation, the GFOA assessed how the budget serves as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide and a communications device. The county’s budget document was scored as “proficient” or “outstanding” in 14 criteria in those four categories by a panel of independent reviewers.
For budgets beginning in 2015, only 1,565 governments in the United States and Canada earned the award. The GFOA is a major professional association servicing nearly 19,000 appointed and elected local, state and provincial-level government officials and finance practitioners.
Tech Industry Vet Shock Joins DOC
Kris Valerio Shock, a business development leader and advocate for Maryland tech companies, has joined the Maryland Department of Commerce (DOC) as the senior director of the Office of Strategic Industries and Entrepreneurship. She will lead a team of experts in manufacturing, education and innovation, small business and professional services that will work with Commerce’s business development team to maintain and build on Maryland’s strengths in these areas.

Prior to joining Commerce, Shock was a senior account director at Exit10, a marketing and advertising agency in Baltimore. From 2008 to 2015, she served as executive director of the Chesapeake Regional Tech Council, overseeing its transition from a local group to a regional business organization with members throughout the Washington-Annapolis-Baltimore region. The tech council’s membership also grew from 200 to more than 300 companies under her leadership, grant funding increased more than 200%, and total revenue doubled.
Arundel County Publishes Comprehensive Addiction Resource Guide
Anne Arundel County has released the county’s first comprehensive resource guide for residents suffering from addiction. The 18-page guide lists treatment providers throughout the county that provide the necessary services to help citizens suffering from addiction. It also lists contact information for the organization, as well as a list of treatment services offered.
The guide is authored and updated by the county executive’s Office of Constituent Services. It can be found online at www.aacounty.org/departments/county-executive/constituent-services/forms-publications/resource-guide.pdf. New providers wishing to be added to the guide should contact Nancy Schrum, director of constituent services, at 410-222-1785.
Portion of Southbound Little Patuxent Parkway Closing for Water Main Work
As part of an ongoing Howard County construction project to install a water transmission main in Columbia, a portion of southbound Little Patuxent Parkway is to close. During the closure, traffic will follow a marked detour using Gov. Warfield Parkway. Flagging operations will be in place to direct traffic as needed, and signs will be posted to alert motorists of the construction. This phase of the project is expected to be completed by mid-March, weather permitting.

The project began in September 2016 and includes the installation of approximately 9,000 linear feet of 36-inch water pipe to provide redundancy to the Howard County water distribution system. The majority of the work is located along the southbound shoulder of Little Patuxent Parkway between South Entrance Road and Columbia Road. Weather permitting, the project is expected to be completed by late April.
For questions or concerns about Capital Project W-8296, call 410-313-3440 or email publicworks@howardcountymd.gov.
Chrysalis to Open on EarthDay
The Chrysalis, which is billed as a “high-performance stage, public park pavilion and urban scale sculpture” by its builder and the first component to be completed in the Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods project, will be opened to the public on Saturday, April 22 – Earth Day.
Located near the Merriweather Post Pavilion VIP Parking lot, the 5,000-square-foot structure will serve as two stages: the Alpha Stage proscenium for larger productions, and the Beta Stage proscenium, with a thrust stage, for smaller events. Both stages work off of the same wood deck floor, and they can be used in combination for festival events.
The Chrysalis is also a pavilion for public ad hoc gatherings, such as picnics and private planned functions. As a pavilion, it can also serve as a seated venue for 400 guests.
From MarylandReporter.com …
Bills would boost public financing of campaigns for governor, legislature:

Public financing of Maryland gubernatorial elections could get help from the general fund in years the Fair Campaign Financing Fund falls short, said Del. Eric Luedtke, D-Montgomery. Prince George’s Del. Jimmy Tarlau plans to introduce legislation creating public financing for legislative races; and Luedtke is sponsoring a bill, HB72, that would require the State Board of Elections to assess the sufficiency of the fund the year before an election – to make sure it can fully finance bids for two candidates in the primaries and one in the general election. Read more: http://marylandreporter.com/2017/01/15/bills-would-boost-public-financing-of-campaigns-for-governor-legislature

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