- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 21, 2003

New leases in Bethesda gave the suburban Maryland office market a boost in the second quarter, despite a lack of new activity in Prince George’s County.

Real estate services firm Grubb & Ellis said the office-vacancy rate fell from 12.6 percent to 12.4 percent in suburban Maryland between April and June, thanks largely to 200,000 square feet of new space being filled in Montgomery County.

Bethesda led the way, with Fannie Mae moving into 100,000 square feet at Bethesda Place I and the Cambridge Information Group expanding 32,000 square feet at 720 Wisconsin Ave.

The vacancy rate in Bethesda fell from 16 percent to 14.9 percent during the quarter, prompting real estate analysts to suggest that the area is making up for the loss of Discovery Communications to Silver Spring.

More office space being filled and less empty sublease space, or space that is rented out by tenants instead of landlords “are pleasant indications that Maryland is on a slow and steady path to recovery,” Grubb & Ellis said in its quarterly office report this week.

Real estate analysts cautioned though, that suburban Maryland’s office-vacancy rate was still relatively high compared with the District and with vacancy rates last year. Furthermore, Prince George’s County, with nearly 2.1 million square feet of empty office space, continued to be a drag on the market.

“The recovery predicted by economists is off to a slow start, and the real estate market seems to be trailing further behind than during past market corrections,” Grubb & Ellis said. “Stronger demand is anticipated as we head into 2004 and, hopefully, substantial recovery will transpire by the end of 2005.”

Convention center hotel moves forward

The D.C. Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development chose an architect and design specialist to design the Marriott Convention Center Headquarters Hotel.

Rafael Vinoly Architects PC and Nichols Brosch Sandoval & Associates will draw up plans for the hotel, which is expected to be a key driver in the success of the new Convention Center, located between Ninth and 10th streets on Massachusetts Avenue NW.

Tishman Urban Development Corp., an affiliate of the national real estate firm Tishman Realty & Construction Co. Inc., was also named as developer and construction manager.

“This hotel will complement the Convention Center experience and help promote strong Convention Center bookings,” Deputy Mayor Eric Price said in a statement.

In choosing a design team and developer for the site, District officials consulted Gould Property Co., which owns the land where the hotel will be built, and hotel operator Marriott International.

In other news

• Tucon Construction of Sterling, Va., said it won a $4.5 million contract to build the new headquarters of Tribles Inc., a large maker of appliance parts, in Upper Marlboro. The 95,175-square-foot facility will be built on a 6.74-acre site.

• Developer and real estate investor New Boston Fund paid $26.5 million for 16500 Hunters Green Parkway, an 824,298-square-foot warehouse and distribution facility in Hagerstown, Md. Coldwell Banker and Insignia/ESG helped broker the sale.

• The Wilkes Co. bought 300 M St. NE, a vacant 50,000-square-foot site near the intersection of Florida and New York avenues. The company said it is studying whether to build a mixed-use complex that would include small offices for nonprofit groups, plus some shops and 125 apartments.

Tim Lemke can be reached at [email protected] or 202/636-4836.

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