April 24, 2020

The BBJ’s Best in Real Estate 2020: Here are your winners

The Baltimore area ended 2019 with a more robust skyline, major leases signed by companies coming to town, impressive renovations of historic buildings and innovative developments primed to help revitalize entire neighborhoods.

As we persevere through an unprecedented, challenging year for local real estate, we’re eager to celebrate those successes.

For this year’s Best in Real Estate Awards, we’ve picked a range of 2019 projects and deals that are now (or will soon be) serving everyone from low-income renters and city school students to football fans and luxury view seekers. Our awardees were borne from unique visions brought to life by teams of developers, architects and builders, inspiring collaborations between state agencies, nonprofits and the private sector that brought buildings into the 21st century, and leases and sales that should inspire some optimism about the regional strength of commercial and industrial real estate.

The BBJ’s picks cover some considerable territory as well. Cecil County has flexed its industrial muscles, bringing in meat packer Smithfield Foods as a star tenant with a 420,000-square-foot distribution center at Principio Business Park. In Sparrows Point, Tradepoint Atlantic signed on a Danish energy firm to build the state’s first offshore wind energy staging center on 50 acres. Out in Columbia, a transformation materialized at Merriweather Post Pavilion in the form of a new “sky lawn” and dozens of premium suites.

In the city, readers should notice a number of iconic buildings restored or adapted for new glory, from the Enoch Pratt Central Library downtown to long-awaited overhauls of Broadway and Cross Street markets to the old Alex. Brown & Sons building downtown. And of course, they should spot the new high rises and luxe buildings you can’t miss.

THE HALL AT MARYLAND LIVE!

The Hall at Live! wants to bring Vegas to Anne Arundel County

The Cordish Companies' goal is to make its Live! Hotel & Casino into "Las Vegas in your backyard."

The addition last year of the 4,800-seat Hall at Live! in Hanover will help to do just that by bringing in the musical and comedy acts that make Vegas a top national destination. The 75,000-square-foot concert hall cut the ribbon late last year and was expected to employ 500 people. 

"Our customers will get to experience some of the biggest names in entertainment in this visually stunning, state-of-the-art venues," said Anthony Faranca, executive vice president and general manager of the hotel and casino, shortly after it opened. If it hadn't been for the world shutting down amid the coronavirus pandemic, the new event venue was scheduled to host comedian Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno, and musical acts Josh Groban and the Wu-Tang Clan this summer. Most of the concert hall's shows are now postponed or canceled, like every other event in the nation. 

The Hall at Live!, though, aims to be more than a place to watch national acts. Cordish CEO David Cordish always envisioned it as a major gathering spot for Anne Arundel County. Local high schools and colleges hope to hold graduations there. In the past, most large gatherings had to head to Baltimore hotels as Anne Arundel County lacked a large entertainment venue. The Hall at Maryland Live! opened last year as part of the $550 million casino, which debuted in June 2012. Live! Hotel, a luxury 300-room hotel and spa, opened in 2018. 

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