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Old April 7th, 2007, 09:34 AM   #2661
micrip
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The View from the Middle
MAXIMILIAN FRANZ
Daily Record Photographer
April 6, 2007
City-dwellers and tourists walk Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and see the World Trade Center stretching up to the sky above. They look down from the building’s observation deck and see the orange-bricked city stretching out to the horizon below.

But, in the middle is a view not many see. Between the street-level shops and the “Top of the World” perch is the perspective of an office worker in the Baltimore landmark. The Daily Record offers its readers that view on a recent cloudy afternoon.
There doesn't appear to be a lot of space on those floors, does it? A lot of companies are looking for a larger floorplate these days.
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Old April 7th, 2007, 02:46 PM   #2662
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BDC Issues RFP for Liberty Clay Site Within the Westside Superblock



April 4, 2007 Press Release

Baltimore, MD (April 4, 2007) – Following on the heels of a recently executed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of Baltimore, the Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC), The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, The Cordish Company and Lexington Square Partners, LLC (The Chera/Dawson Group) for the redevelopment of the Westside Superblock; BDC, on behalf of the City of Baltimore, has issued a 120-day Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Liberty Clay site, the last major development parcel within the Superblock.

Liberty Clay consists of eight development parcels within Disposition Lot #29 identified in the total Market Center (Westside) Urban Renewal Area, bounded by Cathedral and Liberty Streets on the east; Pratt Street and Washington Boulevard on the south; and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard on the north and west.

Disposition Lot #29 includes:

1. 116-120 West Lexington Street, a vacant three story building.
2. 207-209 Park Avenue, a vacant four-story building.
3. 213 Park Avenue, surface parking.
4. 215 Park Avenue, surface parking.
5. 105-107 Clay Street, surface parking.
6. 109 Clay Street, surface parking.
7. 208 North Liberty Street, a vacant two-story building.
8. 210-216 North Liberty Street, surface parking.

BDC is seeking proposals from qualified developers for the rehabilitation and/or new construction of the properties in accordance with the goals and objectives outlined in the Westside Strategic Plan. The site is offered in “as is” condition and all proposals must include all properties within the site. Proposals which exclude any property from the site will be rejected.

BDC is seeking a fee simple sale of the site to the developer. Reliance on public funds is discouraged and subsidies by the city should not be anticipated.

To obtain further information regarding this offering, contact Kathy A.L. Robertson, Director, Westside Initiative, at 410-837-9305. The RFP can be downloaded from BDC’s web site at www.baltimoredevelopment.com.

Deadline for submission of proposals, accompanied by a $250.00 non-refundable check, are due by 12 noon (EST) on Wednesday, August 1, 2007.

Please contact:
Joann Logan at 410-837-9310 x329
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Old April 7th, 2007, 02:49 PM   #2663
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Wow! 4 months away. I wonder what kind of development proposals we might be able to see? Also notice the many, "vacant lots" mentioned. That's a good thing. No probable lawsuits? Maybe?
Also, the surface parking. Fill 'em up!
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Old April 7th, 2007, 05:21 PM   #2664
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The vacant parking lots are all contiguous, but oddly shaped on the south side due to the variable sizes and shapes of the buildings on Lexington St.

Nate
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Old April 7th, 2007, 08:07 PM   #2665
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I see the Westside

having a chance to cater to middle income people in Baltimore or people with occupations such as teachers, fireman, policeman, nurses,etc.. It will never be an upscale area like Harbor East. If we are able to land 30,000 sq feet upscale stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and a LLBeam, I see it in Harbor East/Point, 10 Inner Harbor or 300 East Pratt.

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The vacant parking lots are all contiguous, but oddly shaped on the south side due to the variable sizes and shapes of the buildings on Lexington St.

Nate
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Old April 7th, 2007, 11:32 PM   #2666
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Brazilian Steakhouse at Inner Harbor

Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't there plans to open a Brazilian Steakhouse at the Inner Harbor? Anyone have any news on this.
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Old April 7th, 2007, 11:45 PM   #2667
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Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't there plans to open a Brazilian Steakhouse at the Inner Harbor? Anyone have any news on this.
Fogo De Chao should be opening at Lockwood in the next few months.

check it....

http://www.fogodechao.com/locations.htm

As you might be able to tell, they like to be really original with their restaurant designs. Should be interesting to see what they come up with.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 12:54 AM   #2668
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I heard it is very good

Prefix meals(steak, ribs). I think dinner runs $120-$150 for 2 people.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MountVEE View Post
Fogo De Chao should be opening at Lockwood in the next few months.

check it....

http://www.fogodechao.com/locations.htm

As you might be able to tell, they like to be really original with their restaurant designs. Should be interesting to see what they come up with.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 04:31 AM   #2669
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Die Hard 4 Trailer

The trailer is out for Die Hard 4 which has baltimore icons all over it. Even though its supposed to be DC, much of it was filmed here and you can see the BofA building, courthouse (with DC flags), etc. Check out the link below...

http://movies.yahoo.com/feature/livefreeordiehard.html
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Old April 8th, 2007, 05:18 AM   #2670
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Demolition for KSI project has started . . .

. . . but not by KSI. This gives them a small headstart, though.

From abc2news.com:

Apr 4, 2007 1:25 PM
Semi Crashes Into Southeast Baltimore House
Posted By: Bryan Sinagra

A semi slams into a Baltimore home leaving the homeowner shaken. Around 4 o’clock Tuesday, the driver of a 53 foot tractor trailer was traveling westbound on O’Donnell Street in Southeast Baltimore when he veered off the road. His truck collided into a brick row house on Newkirk Avenue tearing down a utility pole and power lines. The driver was trapped inside. Emergency crews rescued the man who they say suffered only minor injuries. Fortunately, the first floor apartment is vacant. John Wagner was in the other side of the building at the time of the crash. He described hearing a crashing sound like thunder and then he says the house started shaking. Wagner says he is moving out of the house. The homeowner was actually bought out because of nearby development and the house was scheduled to be torn down. The driver is expected to make a full recovery. No word from his company, ATS Inc. out of Minnesota.

---
This was the end unit of a row of 4, that is part of the new KSI development. Guess they won't have to tear this particular one down.



I'm glad the driver is OK. As my husband says, this is a good argument for not owning a house on a main road.

---

I just watched a video on the WJZ TV web site; the man living in the rowhouse said that he was supposed to move out by May anyway . . . so that gives us a little better idea of when the KSI demo is scheduled to begin.

Also, we drove by the rowhouses this morning . . . only two remain. The rightmost two have already been demolished. I would not be surprised if they are all gone by next week. I don't know how much that sort of crash destabilizes the other houses in the row.

Last edited by BaltimoreDeb; April 8th, 2007 at 08:37 PM. Reason: Additional info
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Old April 8th, 2007, 06:16 AM   #2671
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Sorry I haven't been posting frequently for a while. I just finished my thesis on McKeldin's first mayorlty and housing policies of the 1940s, so I've been occupied, and frankly, too tired to write even more about Baltimore!

I went downtown with friends for the first time in a while Friday night, and had a lot of fun. Spent too much money at Filene's and Urban Outfitters. The manager at Filene's told me the store grossed over $500k in its first week of operation -- about 4x what an average store does. I'm sure those figures are inflated given the novelty of the store right now, but I think it would be a safe bet to guess that this will be a very successful store. I am looking forward to the Levi's store, too. Although I would not call downtown my favorite venue in Baltimore, I will acknowledge that the experience is improving, and that it does feel more "urban," which is a virtue.

BTW, to keep up on the office market, there's not a lot of activity to anticipate in the future. Some potential tenant moves to look for include PriceWaterHouse (10,000 sf) and ABS Capital (also 10,000 sf). Of course, who occupies the Legg Mason building is anybody's guess, but if we are to expect one anchor tenant, it almost certainly will have to come outside of town, perhaps from the suburbs. If the building is split among many tenants -- a stronger possibility -- we'll probably see tenant erosion from other downtown buildings.

Good to be back, and I'll hopefully post more now that I have recently.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 10:41 AM   #2672
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baltimoreisbest View Post
Sorry I haven't been posting frequently for a while. I just finished my thesis on McKeldin's first mayorlty and housing policies of the 1940s, so I've been occupied, and frankly, too tired to write even more about Baltimore!

I went downtown with friends for the first time in a while Friday night, and had a lot of fun. Spent too much money at Filene's and Urban Outfitters. The manager at Filene's told me the store grossed over $500k in its first week of operation -- about 4x what an average store does. I'm sure those figures are inflated given the novelty of the store right now, but I think it would be a safe bet to guess that this will be a very successful store. I am looking forward to the Levi's store, too. Although I would not call downtown my favorite venue in Baltimore, I will acknowledge that the experience is improving, and that it does feel more "urban," which is a virtue.

BTW, to keep up on the office market, there's not a lot of activity to anticipate in the future. Some potential tenant moves to look for include PriceWaterHouse (10,000 sf) and ABS Capital (also 10,000 sf). Of course, who occupies the Legg Mason building is anybody's guess, but if we are to expect one anchor tenant, it almost certainly will have to come outside of town, perhaps from the suburbs. If the building is split among many tenants -- a stronger possibility -- we'll probably see tenant erosion from other downtown buildings.

Good to be back, and I'll hopefully post more now that I have recently.
Anything under 14,000 s/f is almost a joke. That sum is barley an entire floor of leasable space in an office building.

But I agree, any morsel of hope will come from outside the region since unfortunately our existing business base is not expanding.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 04:07 PM   #2673
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Harbor Point will start this summer

25,000 sq ft of retail, parking garage, resturaunt in 260,000 sq ft office building and 2 buildings with 400 condo's/apartments.


Harbor Point Project Jimmy Stewart • $650 million mixed-use development
• Mixed-use office, retail, residential
• Environmental remediation already completed
• Waterfront promenade
• Parking garage
Summer 2007
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Old April 8th, 2007, 05:01 PM   #2674
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We're definitely barley, and not beef.

Happy Easter, Mobtowners.

Nate
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Old April 8th, 2007, 05:45 PM   #2675
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MountVEE View Post
Fogo De Chao should be opening at Lockwood in the next few months.

check it....

http://www.fogodechao.com/locations.htm

As you might be able to tell, they like to be really original with their restaurant designs. Should be interesting to see what they come up with.
MMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!! my kinda' food! i'm glad it's finally getting a chance to make it's debut in th inner harbor. fanofterps is right about the prices. their meals can be rather costly.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 06:07 PM   #2676
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Foreclosures on the rise in suburbs of Baltimore
Mortgage deals from housing boom blow up in owners' faces

By Jamie Smith Hopkins
sun reporter
Originally published April 8, 2007
An Edgewater house with a new siding-and-stone facade. A five-bedroom in Hanover, two-car garage attached. A West Friendship mansion on nearly an acre of gently sloping land. A million-dollar Colonial in a Columbia development so new, the sales office is still open.

Suburban. Symbols of affluence. And - as recently as the past few weeks - all in foreclosure.

The new wave of mortgage defaults hitting the region, part of a nationwide spike, is not primarily a city problem. Foreclosure filings rose four times faster last year in Baltimore's suburbs than in Baltimore - up 15 percent versus less than 4 percent in the city, court records show. To the south in Montgomery, one of the nation's wealthiest counties, filings were up more than 30 percent.

Suburban Baltimore foreclosure cases are increasing even more quickly this year, and local housing advocates fear a worsening as more "exotic" mortgages reset to higher payments. Already, real estate agents and auctioneers say, some homeowners are desperately trying to sell before they are overwhelmed.

Statewide, nearly 45,000 mortgages had late payments at the end of last year, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The share of delinquent loans rose more than 10 percent from 2005, the biggest year-over-year jump since the last recession.

Christy L. Grambo, 31, isn't surprised. She has friends in trouble. She saw a home in the area sell and within a few months get taken back by the bank for nonpayment. And that pretty Edgewater house with the new facade? Hers.

"It's sad. It really, really is," said Grambo, who bought the Anne Arundel property with her husband, Erik, for $382,500 a year and a half ago. They have a son, 3, and a child on the way.

The Grambos have twice saved their four-bedroom house from a foreclosure auction, most recently last month - homeowners in the foreclosure process can still work out a deal with their lenders. Erik D. Grambo, who has dreams of buying land and building a home someday, is hopeful that the situation is improving. But with $3,600-a-month payments, things are tight now.


Do the math
The couple are typical of the changing face of foreclosure, which is no longer just about job loss, illness or divorce. Increasingly, it's about the loans.

As the housing boom pushed prices skyward here and across the country, buyers - even those with some home equity - stretched to make the numbers work. And they could do so like never before, with lenders offering a head-spinning array of options. No money down. Adjustable rates. Interest-only payments. Payments that wouldn't cover even the interest. The catch: Higher costs down the road - much higher, in some cases.

When the market slowed and then took a turn for the worse last summer, some homeowners found themselves in trouble.

The Grambos think they probably would have been all right if their last home - put on the market just after the housing boom - hadn't taken so long to sell; they had four months of paying mortgages on both places. Because they financed the full cost of the Edgewater house and got an adjustable rate, they have little equity cushion and the likelihood of increased payments in the future. They tried to sell and couldn't, caught by the market downturn. They were close to refinancing but decided it wouldn't help.

Their fledging construction business is doing well, with only a few slow months. As things began to unravel, though, there was no room for any downtime.

"We had a decent income; we had things put away," said Christy Grambo. "And it just all crashed."


Overextending
Sherrie Brandquist, president of Fair Housing Rescue in Baltimore County, is hearing this a lot. She negotiates with lenders on behalf of homeowners in trouble who want to sell but can't get offers to cover all that they owe.

"It's not just that the market turned," said Brandquist, who in a year on the job has worked on cases involving homes ranging in price from $130,000 to $1.8 million. "I'm seeing that we have come out of five years of reckless lending."

Suburbia wasn't immune to foreclosures before. In the Baltimore area, the number of filings was higher at the start of the housing boom several years ago, improving as escalating home prices gave homeowners more options - refinance or sell for a quick profit.

But the sharp increase in foreclosures since then - here and in other affluent areas - seems like a new problem, said Rick Sharga of RealtyTrac Inc., a California company that tracks foreclosures. He thinks middle- and upper-middle-income homeowners have overextended themselves, betting on rising income and home equity - and losing those bets.

Consider, for instance, a western Howard County home whose lender filed for foreclosure last month: Built last year, it's nearly three times the size of an average new house, with a double-door entrance, a circular driveway and a four-car garage. Balance due on the loan: about $1.5 million.

Despite the opulence of some homes in foreclosure, their owners typically have something in common with people struggling to stay above the poverty line, advocates say: They're so financially stretched that a single unexpected expense can be disastrous.





"Either they've fallen behind in payments or it's just gotten to the point that the debt is strangulating them," said Mark F. Scurti, a Baltimore bankruptcy lawyer who has seen the number of people looking for Chapter 13 protection because of mortgage problems increase "dramatically" in the past few months.

"People are getting these large mortgages with variable rates that are just outrageous," Scurti added. "What they got in at, they could afford. Now they're paying almost double."

Adjustable-rate mortgages have interest rates that change frequently after a set period, such as three years. They grew rapidly in popularity during the housing boom, and many are scheduled for their first reset this year. First American CoreLogic, a provider of mortgage risk management services, expects to see 1.1 million foreclosures nationwide as a result of resets to adjustable-rate loans that consumers obtained from 2004 through 2006.


Trouble starts early
But some homeowners are in trouble before their first reset. One foreclosure filing in affluent Howard County last month, for an almost $1 million home in the newly built community of Metzlers Garden in Columbia, affects an owner whose interest rate isn't scheduled to change until 2011. Because the loan requires payments only on the interest for the first 10 years, not one dollar of the principal had been paid off at the time of the court filing.

Three days later, another lender filed for foreclosure on a $480,000 split-level in Ellicott City with an adjustable-rate, interest-only mortgage that also hasn't reset. The home changed hands only last summer.

But the interest rate was high from the get-go, at 9.25 percent.

Phillip R. Robinson, executive director of Civil Justice Inc., a Baltimore legal-help group, sees borrowers with good credit who have been "duped" into such higher-cost subprime loans meant for credit risks. He thinks it's contributing to rising defaults.

It certainly did for Elias DePaula. He bought a Rockville condo for $275,000 in January 2006, financing the entire amount; by the fall, he had lost it.

DePaula, who was making $40,000 a year as a salesman when he decided to buy in 2005, said he told his mortgage broker that he didn't want to spend more than $1,700 a month. But the result was $2,700 a month, including condo fees. His interest rates - nearly 8 percent on his first mortgage and 11.25 percent on his second - were significantly above the going rate. Because he financed the full purchase price, he had no cushion.

He's filing for bankruptcy, angry with the mortgage broker who he thinks took advantage of him and frustrated with himself for signing the contract. He had been loath to lose a $3,000 deposit, but after forking over about $20,000 in settlement costs, he was able to make only one mortgage payment. "It was bad from the beginning," said DePaula, 31, who plans to sue the brokerage. "The taxes were coming due, my mortgage was already behind - it just got overwhelming."

Vivian Ogburn hasn't lost her home, but she says it's just a matter of time. She figures her best hope is to persuade her lender to let her sell for less than the roughly $630,000 she owes on the waterfront property in Middle River, and forgive the rest. The highest offer came in at $485,000. If the lender agrees, she'll still have to pay taxes on the difference.

One disaster after another forced her to this point. Her husband bought at the height of the housing boom over her objections; she wanted to rent because their flooring company, though successful, was young. Persuaded by their mortgage broker to refinance from two loans into one, they increased the level of their mortgage debt last year. Then, Ogburn said, their business unexpectedly failed, the housing market worsened sharply and her husband left her.

Ogburn, 41, a mother of one with a second on the way, still doesn't understand how her husband managed to qualify for such an expensive home. "The whole thing made no sense," she said.

She has been trying hard to make good on her obligations. But those who put no money down and are struggling to pay for homes worth less than the loan are more likely to just walk, lenders say.

The problem isn't limited to subprime loans. Baltimore-based First Mariner Bancorp, which doesn't offer subprime products, said bad loans contributed to its nearly $4 million loss in the last three months of 2006. Brett Carter, president of First Mariner Mortgage, whose loans are primarily on Mid-Atlantic homes, sees a mix of homeowners in trouble and investors who speculated badly. "They can't sell their property and they can't refinance their property and they can't get a tenant, and you're seeing them throw up their hands and say, 'You know, I'm out,'" Carter said.

Other investors, sensing an opportunity, are flocking to foreclosure auctions held daily at courthouse steps around the state.

Jon Levinson, an Alex Cooper Auctioneers vice president, is seeing a lot of $200,000 to $400,000 homes on the selling block. A lot of homes, period.

In an average week last year, the company was scheduled to auction about 150 foreclosure homes in the Baltimore-Washington area. "Now it's in excess of 200," Levinson said. "Even as much as 250."

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Old April 8th, 2007, 06:13 PM   #2677
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BTW, how did the "Vue" get into that Belgrade Banner?
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Old April 8th, 2007, 06:20 PM   #2678
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Trammell ends Hale lawsuit
Baltimore Business Journal - April 6, 2007by Daniel J. SernovitzStaff


The Trammell Crow Services Inc. has withdrawn its $71,000 lawsuit against Hale Properties LLC over its leasing contract for Hale's Canton Crossing development in Baltimore City.

Representatives for both sides declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for Trammell parent company CB Richard Ellis Inc. Documents filed with Baltimore City Circuit Court show Trammell Crow withdrew its suit Feb. 28. Responding to the withdrawal, Hale filed court documents March 1 denying any liability.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 06:22 PM   #2679
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Federal Hill fights nightlife, image as 'new Fells Point'
Baltimore Business Journal - April 6, 2007by Julekha DashStaff

Nicholas Griner | Staff

As throngs of twenty-somethings make their pub crawl on Cross Street on a weekend night, some Federal Hill residents want bar owners to address their concerns such as increasing noise, trash, litter and public urination.

Some neighborhood community leaders are worried that local bar owners' expansion plans are threatening the neighborhood's image as a desirable area for young professionals and soaring property values.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 06:24 PM   #2680
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Calif. real estate firm headed for Baltimore
Baltimore Business Journal - April 6, 2007by Daniel J. SernovitzStaff
Nicholas Griner | Staff

Anthony Casalena will head Sperry Van Ness’ office in Baltimore.
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Irvine, Calif.-based brokerage Sperry Van Ness is moving to Baltimore, adding another national player to the region's real estate market.

Matthew Fitch, regional director for Sperry, said the move is part of a larger expansion mid-Atlantic area, though he added it is also well timed to take advantage of an increasingly active market. The firm focuses on investment sales, and Fitch said it plans to use its national presence to stimulate investment in Baltimore-area properties and to encourage regional investors to focus beyond Baltimore and Maryland.
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