Balto. Co., Arundel property appraisals upIt wasn't too...


January 06, 1993|By Timothy J. Mullaney

Balto. Co., Arundel property appraisals up

It wasn't too surprising last week when tax assessors released appraisals contending that the value of Baltimore County office buildings hasn't fallen in the last year. After all, the market has been getting a bit stronger.

But here's a surprise: Assessment figures state that overall commercial property values in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties have risen since 1990 -- despite the recession.

"There are always some individual horror stories," said William W. Saltzman, assistant to the director of the state Department of Assessments and Taxation. "And yet when you look at our experience . . . the market and the movement and the transfers aren't dead."

For example: In Baltimore County districts reassessed this year, including major office centers such as Towson and Hunt Valley, commercial property was worth $819.8 million in July 1990 and $928.3 million last July.

In Anne Arundel, the numbers are similar. The value of commercial property that got new assessments last month was $664.4 million in July, up from $532.4 million in 1990.

Like the new appraisals, the July figures are based on market information through the end of 1991, Mr. Saltzman said. Assessment officials in Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties, unlike other local jurisdictions, reappraised key office districts in 1992.

Clinton expected to aid infrastructure, housing

Real estate pros, like other business people, are wondering what a Clinton administration will mean to them. Stan Ross, managing partner of Kenneth Leventhal & Co. in Los Angeles, the accounting firm that helped fix Donald Trump's finances, has a few ideas.

First, construction companies that work on roads, bridges and other public projects will get a boost from the incoming president's commitment to boost spending on infrastructure, he said.

"Opportunities will abound for general contractors and builders that are actively involved in any segment of infrastructure," Mr. Ross' report said. It was released before the recent reports that Mr. Clinton might scale down his proposals.

Second, Leventhal thinks the new administration may try to cap the mortgage interest deduction at loans of $500,000.

"It could mark the continuation of a downward trend and cause a ripple effect into the appliance, furniture and other industries that support housing," the report said.

Third, look for tax changes to let pension funds invest more liberally in real estate, especially with seller financing from federal bank and thrift regulators that are liquidating failed institutions. That would put a floor on real estate values driven down by the recession, Leventhal & Co. contends.

Leventhal also expects Mr. Clinton to revitalize the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which some regarded as dormant under Presidents Bush and Reagan.

That means more emphasis on affordable housing, enterprise zones and public-private partnerships to develop them.

Loewy leaves Ober to set up own practice

A prominent real estate attorney has left one of the city's biggest law firms to become a sole practitioner.

Steven A. Loewy began his new practice this week, leaving Ober, Kaler, Grimes & Shriver, where he has been a partner for more than five years.

dTC Mr. Loewy is the chairman of the American Bar Association's Title Insurance Committee and has represented such developers the David Kornblatt Co.

He said his departure from Ober, Kaler was friendly, and that he hopes to refer business to the firm and get referrals from his ex-partners as well.

"I don't want to make it look like I'm stealing clients from Ober, Kaler because I'm not," Mr. Loewy said.

Washington brokers edge up the corridor

First, the Census Bureau got the name of the Baltimore-Washington corridor backward. Now Washington commercial real estate brokers are making new encroachments in the corridor markets farther from the capital.

Spaulding & Slye has picked up the listing for a number of Howard County projects controlled by Connecticut insurance giant Aetna Corp., though a Spaulding official said the move isn't part of a concerted push north.

"We're trying to serve a client," said Freddi Donner, vice president of marketing at Spaulding & Slye. "Aetna is a client of ours in Washington."

In the meantime, the new owners of Columbia Executive Center, a 485,000-square-foot office and warehouse building in Columbia, also hired a Washington-based firm in recent weeks to lease their space. The 400,000-square-foot warehouse is 40 percent vacant, and the 85,000 square feet of offices are empty.

The grand reopening of the building, which Walallan Corp. bought in September from the parent company of Pittsburgh National Bank, is Jan. 15, said Skip Case, a broker for Carey Winston Co. The Washington firm has been active in Baltimore's southern suburbs since 1988.

The attention-getting gambit for the "grand opening" of a building that, after all, hasn't been closed is a trip to the Super Bowl. "The owners are out of New York and they say they have connections" for tickets, Mr. Case said.

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