- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 21, 2004

One of the region’s largest real estate services companies is developing residential properties for the first time in its 58-year history, taking advantage of the booming housing market.

Columbia, Md.-based Manekin LLC, which historically has been an office brokerage and property management firm, plans to build more than 4,500 homes as part of six major development projects in Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania.

“The residential market is on fire,” said Manekin President and Chief Executive Officer Richard Alter. “We couldn’t pass up these opportunities, so we’re launching the residential business line with projects 10 times the size we anticipated.”

Manekin’s largest residential project will be in Havre de Grace, Md., where the company plans to build 1,500 to 2,000 homes around the Bulle Rock public golf course. The homes will cater to senior citizens and will be flanked by a hotel, conference center and 325,000 square feet of offices.

Manekin also will redevelop the long-vacant, 1,200-acre Bainbridge Naval Training Center site in Port Deposit, Md., with 1,250 houses and an employment center. Plans call for at least 400 acres of open space and community uses, including a library, amphitheater, hiking trails and a veterans museum and cemetery.

For both Maryland projects, Manekin has partnered with construction firm Clark Turner and H&S; Properties Development Corp.

The company made its first foray into Pennsylvania earlier this year when it bought 423 acres in Loganville, where it plans to build a clubhouse and pool surrounded by 480 single-family homes and town houses.

Manekin will begin construction this fall on 134 single-family homes in Harrisburg, Pa., and will break ground next year on 65 single-family homes in Stewartstown, Pa. It also will begin selling 66 residential lots developed near a new retail center in Millville, Del.

Last year was the strongest in 26 years for construction of new homes, with 1.85 million built nationwide, according to the National Association of Home Builders. The pace of construction has slowed since December, but January’s new home starts were still 1.7 percent greater than in January 2003.

Mr. Alter said that adding residential development to Manekin’s product line is a natural progression of its business. The company began in the 1940s as a brokerage company and added a property management unit in the early 1960s. Within a decade, it moved into commercial and industrial development. Retail development was added in the 1990s. Manekin now controls about 150 buildings and 12 million square feet of development.

About 70 percent of Manekin’s business stems from its services unit, including property management and leasing for companies. The remaining 30 percent comes from the development of office space. Manekin expects that once these projects are finished, residential development will account for about 40 percent of its business.

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