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Nine in í10: Developments to watch

Daniel Sernovitz
1.15.2010
Baltimore Business Journal

Overall lack of cash, leasing isnít bumping several transformational projects off track

From Aberdeen to Annapolis Junction, the development outlook for Greater Baltimore is dreary.

But a few bold developers are hoping to make it happen this year with large scale developments expected to bring hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars of investment to Greater Baltimore.

Much of the regionís growth will come from a few economic drivers, mainly the Pentagon, the federal stimulus, the promise of slot machine parlors, and a pent-up demand for new construction.

Those are able to keep building stand to reap significant gains in the coming year, constructing offices, houses, restaurants, and shops that could become some of the regionís most vibrant new commercial centers.

But thatís easier said than done. A lack of cash, government approvals and tenants has led to a significant drop in new projects. Just 1.7 million square feet of space is under construction in Greater Baltimore, down from 2.1 million a year ago, according to Cushman & Wakefield, Inc.

Financing has been one of the major implements for many developers. Burned by the fast-and-easy credit markets of just a few years ago, many banks have risk-averse and arenít willing to shell out money to just any new office building.

Mary Ann Scully, CEO of Howard Bank, said she is no longer financing speculative construction projects because there is no guarantee of a stable cash flow. Find the tenants first, she said other lenders across the region say, then weíll loan you the money you need to start building.

But a few well-heeled developers are still building, firms like Corporate Office Properties Trust, Merritt Properties and St. John Properties. Their projects are either under way or will be in the coming months here and their completion stands to have a far-reaching impact on the regionís economic growth for years to come. Here are nine to watch in 2010.



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