Frederick County Board of Education Candidate Primary Election Endorsements 2014

How does the outcome of a Board of Education primary election have anything to do with land & commercial real estate in Frederick County?

The answer is very simple: A whole lot!

Please consider that Frederick County Public School system (FCPS) projects that it will educate 40,667 students in the 2014-2015 school year at a cost of $13,098 per pupil.

To save you time in doing the math, that totals $539,697,886 in county government approved funding. Put another way, that is over one half of a billion dollars county in real estate property taxes.

Consider that in 2013 there were 92,347 households and about 25,000 businesses within the boundaries of this county. If we figure that each of these are located a parcel of real estate (not sure where else they would be found!), the budgeted tax payer amount for each of these units totals over $4,500, whether the individuals have children or not.

Based upon adjusted statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics the average cost to publicly educate a student in the United States is about $11,800 (2010-2011 average of $11,153 compounded by 1.8% per year). So Frederick County is paying about 10% more than the national average.

Don’t get me wrong here, our children are a precious commodity to the people of Frederick County and making an investment in their education is vital to the future of our community and nation. So I am not challenging any of the above budget numbers.

That stated, all Frederick County voters should pay close attention the weight of the responsibilities that are placed on our elected BOE members. All too often voters don’t take the time to pay attention the individuals who file for these races, and then just follow the recommendations of the local teachers’ union.

With all due respect to my Facebook friend Gary Brennan, President of the Frederick County Teachers Association (FCTA), he has done a great job over the years looking out for the union he represents. In addition he has generally had a very strong influence on how the FCPS budget is crafted for the last several years.

Over the years I have paid close attention to many aspects Frederick County Public Schools, and I generally give them good grades, but it is always good the elect candidates to the Board of Education who are not afraid of challenging the education bureaucracy and the union’s strong lobby.

The candidates for the Frederick County Board of Education run on a non-partisan ballot, so all will appear on both the Democratic and Republican ballots.

Three of my endorsements go to incumbents who have proven their worth while in office: Brad Young, April Miller and Colleen Cusimano.

Jonathan Carothers is my fourth choice. He is new to local politics, but well versed in the issues surrounding the issues facing the BOE.

I believe each of these candidates to be the best for the five qualities I look for to lead the Frederick County Board of Education: Fiscally Responsible, Provide Parents with Educational Choices, Willing to hold themselves and FCPS accountable for their actions, Provide full transparency in all decisions that are made, and keep our student safe.

You don’t have to take my word for these endorsements, check all these hopefuls out for yourself … and then VOTE!

The author: Rocky Mackintosh, President, MacRo, Ltd., a Land and Commercial Real Estate firm based in Frederick, Maryland. He has been an active member of the Frederick, Maryland community for over four decades.  He has served as chairman of the board of Frederick Memorial Hospital, as a member of the Frederick County Charter Board from 2010 to 2012 and the Board of Directors of the Community Foundation of Frederick County … to name a few.  

MacRo Brokers Lease of Office Space on Monocacy Boulevard

MacRo, Ltd. is pleased to announce the leasing of 1,500 square feet of office space at 93 Monocacy Boulevard to Horizon Facilities Services, LLC.

Steve Cranford of MacRo represented the tenant in the transaction.  Nancy Green of Mackintosh Commercial represented the landlord.

For more information on how MacRo, Ltd. Real Estate Brokerage Services may be able to assist you in the sale or leasing of your property, contact Steve Cranford at 301-788-4373 or steve@macroltd.com.

MacRo Sells 8+ Acres of Industrial Land in Woodsboro, MD

MacRo, Ltd. is pleased to announce the sale of 8+ acres of industrial land in Woodsboro, Maryland.  

The property sold is an 8.8 acre parcel of land with industrial zoning located within the town of Woodsboro.  This property is “raw land” and did not include any improvements or entitlements.

The buyer is a local Woodsboro based business that plans to develop the land and relocate their operation in the future.

The sale price was $208,000.  Dave Wilkinson represented the Seller in this transaction.

For more information on how MacRo, Ltd. Real Estate Brokerage Services may be able to assist you in the sale of your land, contact David Wilkinson at 301-748-5670 or dave@macroltd.com.

Frederick’s Strong Industrial Market Reflects Nationwide Demand for Warehouses

Low interest rates, steady consumer demand, and record high industrial production is fueling strong demand for industrial real estate despite stunted first quarter GDP.

Rumor has it that the U.S. economy will at long last reach full employment recovery–a gain of 9 million jobs from the trough of the recession–this summer.  At five years, this recovery from “The Great Recession” has been twice as long in the making as that from the dot com bust in the early ’90s.

The Great QE Taper doesn’t appear to be putting heavy pressure on interest rates, so let’s all hope that the abysmal first quarter GDP growth of 0.1% was a weather-related anomaly.  Economists are banking on a combination of less drag from the government sector and more fuel from the housing sector to boost overall 2014 GDP into a more tolerable 3% range.  (Economists are betting on the housing market because the U.S. is creating households at a faster clip than housing stock, which is pushing  inventories to critical lows in many markets.  However, I wonder if they are taking into account the impact of a trillion dollars of student loan debt on the economic capacity of those new households.)

In the meantime, both industrial production and truck tonnage indexes posted all time highs during an otherwise lackluster first quarter, both of which translate into local demand for warehouse space.  Frederick’s industrial market had a much stronger first quarter than the same time period last year.  MacRo Report covered the top three industrial deals in Frederick’s Top 5 Commercial Deals for 1st Quarter 2014.  Below are basic statistics on Frederick’s warehouse market for 2013 and the first quarter of this year:

 

The second quarter of 2013 results were boosted by a First Potomac REIT portfolio sale that included $38 million and 545,000 square feet worth of Frederick County warehouse properties.

Nationwide, industrial vacancy rates have dipped below levels not seen since the height of the real estate boom back in the mid ’90s.  According to CoStar (the most comprehensive database of commercial real estate in the U.S.), Frederick’s industrial vacancy rate dropped to 11% for the first quarter of this year from 12.6% during the same time period of 2013.  Properties that range in size from 0-100,000 square feet fall into CoStar’s “light industrial” category; most of Frederick County’s industrial properties fall under into this category.  Nationwide, light industrial enjoyed the strongest rent growth and vacancy rate improvements of the warehouse segment during the past quarter.

Anecdotally, we are noting at MacRo that lease rates for industrial properties appear to have stabilized, and lease concessions are less generous than they were a year ago.  That coupled with low inventories of warehouse properties in Frederick could be setting the stage for lease rate increases, assuming the economy gets back into a stable growth rate.

Following are Frederick industrial leasing statistics gathered from CoStar for the first quarter of 2014:

 

Note: Statistics provided for commercial property sales in this report are based on thorough research of every recorded commercial sales transaction listed in SDAT for the first quarter of 2014, and are deemed reliable.  Lease transactions are not recorded with Frederick county government.  Lease rates for this report were researched in CoStar.  Lease rates, if reported at all, are usually estimated.  Median lease rate calculations for the quarter are based upon available estimates and are meant to be used as a baseline trend versus hard data.  

The author:  Kathy Krach is a commercial sales and leasing agent with MacRo.

The Origins of Real Estate Insanity

Was it really Albert Einstein who coined the phrase: “Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results” … Or was it a commercial real estate broker?

Many may think that someone truly has to be a bit insane to remain in the Land & Commercial Real Estate brokerage business year after year for over four decades.  Crazy or not, I have enjoyed the work I do and am proud that I have mentored so many into the insanity of this career track.

But looking from the inside out, we commercial real estate brokers often wonder the same about some of the folks we meet along the way … who seem to have a tried and true (unsuccessful) marketing strategy all figured out to sell or lease their property.

The only problem is that they can’t find the right broker to carry out that plan; so they list with one broker under required terms (price, condition, terms, etc.) for a while, then after no success they move on to another and another and so on … often for years … and many times for decades.

Could it really be that there are that many inept land & commercial real estate licensees out there, or could it be the property owner? …. maybe a combination of both!

Without a doubt when a Google search is run on that famously trite phrase “Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results,” it seems that Einstein wins big time, if you count the one who gets the most hits. But there are a number who have attributed it one of our founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin … another wise choice.  Then again, legendary writer and satirist Mark Twain also earns ranking.  Who would ever question that such a quote is attributed to the man who said “To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.”

After doing a bit more digging, I came across a blog entitled Throw Grammar from a Train, Notes from a recovering nitpicker, by Jan Freeman.  Ms. Freeman is an author and writer for the Boston Globe and is nationally known for her wisdom and research on the use of the English language.

In her October 2010 post entitled “The definition of insanity,” Freeman finds the origin not to be with any of the famous above noted trio. But not that far back in time, she found that the quote is used in a 1983 book by Rita Mae Brown, and then earlier in 1979 ~ 1981 it is found as a phrase in the second step of a Narcotics Anonymous work book.  The NA program, as it is called, has roots that originated with “AA” — Alcoholics Anonymous that was co-founded in the 1930′s by Bill Wilson (1895~1971).  So it could be that it was Wilson who first coined the phrase.

Then again Freeman cautions that many widely used and/or trite phrases rarely originate from famous people.  Therefore maybe, just maybe, the quote first popped upon the scene from a regular ol’ crazy person, who began his (surely not “her”) journey to recovery after realizing that he was doing something wrong by attempting to sell his commercial investment property unsuccessfully off and on for a decade or so by listing it with ten different commercial brokers over that period.

But why stop with property owners!  It just as easily sprouted from a commercial real estate brokers, who after years of banging his head against the wall, repeating the same mistakes, woke up and realized that there is a better way to success.

Over the years, I have experienced real estate insanity from all different angles.  Yes, I have banged my head against many a wall, but I have also come to recognize that many seasoned would-be clients, who often throw the blame on their last broker, are equally to blame.

All too often as has been written among the posts of the MacRo Report Blog, when we agree to engage a frustrated property owner who has followed such a path, it is important that our new client bring an open mind to the table.

There is no question that a seasoned land & commercial real estate broker needs to first listen carefully to understand the experiences and goals of those they commit to.  After considering all that information and thorough market research, by using the expertise of a proven professional, there should be no reason to not to expect different results!

 ~~~

The author: Rocky Mackintosh, President, MacRo, Ltd., a Land and Commercial Real Estate firm based in Frederick, Maryland. He has been an active member of the Frederick, Maryland community for over four decades.  He has served as chairman of the board of Frederick Memorial Hospital, as a member of the Frederick County Charter Board from 2010 to 2012 and the Board of Directors of the Community Foundation of Frederick County … to name a few.  

Frederick Office Market Posts Modest Gains First Quarter 2014

Buyers snapped up Frederick office condos , while tenants leased four times as much flex space as office.

It’s apparent when viewing the chart reporting square footage of commercial real estate transactions by segment in Frederick Commercial Sales Jump 66% during 1st Quarter, that warehouse properties were the darling of Frederick’s first quarter commercial real estate market.  The office segment, on the other hand, continues to face a difficult climb out of the recession, as office use continues to evolve dramatically and inexpensive flex spaces absorb tenants who would have been class A or B office tenants less than a decade ago.

That said, the office sales market in Frederick appears to be making some modest gains, at least in terms of sales price and volume.

The median price per square foot of Frederick office space increased about 10% compared to Q1 2013, while total square feet sold jumped 135%.  There were no purchases of flex properties by traditional office owner/users during the first quarter of this year, and only one sale of a flex condo during the first quarter of 2013 at a price of $106.12/SF.  Medical office condominiums fetch higher prices; a medical office condominium at Conley Farm sold for $237.51/SF last quarter.

Small businesses and medical practices seeking office condos represented most of the activity in office sales last quarter, as low interest rates and loosening credit markets tipped the scales in favor of owning versus leasing.

But speaking of leasing, flex was the clear winner last quarter with office tenants.   Vacant flex properties like those offered by St. John Properties continue to put pressure on the office leasing market, mainly due to the affordability factor:  compare the median per square foot lease rate for flex of $7/NNN versus $11/NNN for office space during the past quarter.  On a square foot volume basis, flex outpaced office by nearly 4 to 1 during the first quarter of 2014.

 

St. John Properties, which about 18 months ago had 1/4 million square feet of vacant flex space in Frederick, appears to be leasing that inventory at a brisk pace, which is good news for the traditional office segment in Frederick.

Note: Statistics provided for commercial property sales in this report are based on thorough research of every recorded commercial sales transaction listed in SDAT for the first quarter of 2014, and are deemed reliable.  Lease transactions are not recorded with Frederick county government.  Lease rates for this report were researched in CoStar.  Lease rates, if reported at all, are usually estimated.  Median lease rate calculations for the quarter are based upon available estimates and are meant to be used as a baseline trend versus hard data.  

The author:  Kathy Krach is a commercial sales and leasing agent with MacRo.

2014 Frederick County Primary Election Endorsements — Part 1

Endorsements are not easy to give in any election, but here are a few for you to consider!

For long time Frederick County, Maryland residents, Tuesday, June 24th represents a new era in local politics.  For as long as Frederick has had a county government, voters entered the primary election polling booths with the option to cast their votes for county commissioner candidates to represent their political party in the November general election.

Now, with the new Charter Home Rule form of government adopted in 2012, voters will see a different format on their ballot.  But when it comes to casting votes for State Delegates, Senators, Judges, etc. things will look the same.

Being the political junkie that I am, and one who has given his time and money to the Frederick community to countless charitable causes over the last four decades, I thought I’d offer a few endorsements (for what that is worth) of a few of the candidates on both the Democratic and Republican ballots next month.

Since there are so many hopefuls, I’m only offering up a few at a time for folks of both parties to consider.

So in this week’s Part 1, I ask that voter consider the following six, each of whom I believe, if elected will place our community’s welfare without personal agendas and rabid single issues:

David Brinkley, Incumbent Maryland State Senator, Republican, District 4, Frederick and Carroll Counties.

Senator Brinkley has served our community in Annapolis since 1994 — first as a member of the House of Delegates and then as a State Senator.  I have personally known David for all those years, and he has a very strong and proven track record of being able to collaborate with the other side of the aisle, while keeping Frederick and Carroll Counties his priorities.  He knows how to get things done.  While I have been a supporter of his opponent in his election to the House of Delegates, I feel strongly that Brinkley should remain in the Senate for years to come.

Anthony Chmelik, Republican Candidate  for County Council — District 2.

I got to know Tony during  his unsuccessful bid for a seat on the Frederick County Board of Education.  He is an independent businessman who has been married for 23 years and a father of 11 (yes, eleven) children.  I have worked with Tony on a number of issues, including educational causes.  His takes a very collaborative approach to problem solving, which is what is needed as the new Charter form of government will require serious team work to add structure and process during the early transition years.

The Urbana/Monrovia region has experienced a lot of tension as new development projects have met resistance over the last few years.  Tony’s style is not confrontational, but he knows how to apply a firm hand when needed to stand up for the concerns of a community, especially when it appears that too much happens too soon.

Linda Norris-Walt, Democratic Candidate  for County Council — At Large.

If I was a registered Democrat, I’d cast my vote for Linda in the primary.  I’ve gotten to know her over the last 5 years as she campaigned for a seat on the Board of County Commissioners during the 2010 race.  She has experience working in county government and currently provides professional services in the field of communications, writing, research, public relations and marketing.  Linda understands how business works, but is also very conscientious in her process of making decisions.  She is thoughtful and  listens to and researches all sides of the issue.  There are no hidden agendas with Norris.

Judge Danny O’Connor, Incumbent, Circuit Court of Frederick County.

I have known Danny (Oops, Judge O’Connor), for over twenty-four years.  When he was in private practice, he was one of the first lawyers I called upon when complex legal challenges arose.

Judge O’Connor was appointed to his position in 2013 after a very thorough vetting process that began with the Frederick County Bar Association.  Unfortunately his opponent never made the cut in a similar process of his peers in his bid for the position.

It is his very deliberative process of making decisions that makes Danny O’Connor the excellent judge that he has already proven to be.  He exudes trust with this style, and voters can trust that he has no greater ambition than to serve the citizens of Frederick County in this way.

O’Connor has been a lifelong Democrat, but since this is a non-partisan election process for his position, both he and his opponent will appear on both the Democratic and Republican primary ballots.  If Judge O’Connor is fortunate enough to better his opponent in the primaries of both parties, he will be the sole candidate for Circuit Court Judge on the ballot in November.

Dwaine Robbins, Democratic Candidate  for County Council — District 3.

If elected, Mr. Robbins will bring a wealth of experience to the new Charter form of government.  He has served on the Planning Commissions of both the City and the County governments.  He is a humble independent business person, who has shown a practice of being very conscientious and deliberative in his decision making process (can you see the theme here?).

District 3 basically comprises of all of the City of Frederick west of Market Street.  It includes a diverse part of the city that will require a representative who will listen to all of his constituents and craft his decisions accordingly.

Robbins is a graduate of Frederick High School and understands the educational needs of his community, but education is not the only issue that from which he has built his campaign platform.  With his intimate knowledge of both city and county planning and zoning processes, he will work to ensure that the relationship between these two governments will remain collaborative — unlike explosive relationships that festered up until just 4 years ago.

I have known Dwaine and his family for a number of years and found him to be a well rounded and thoughtful leader, who the citizens of District 3 will be proud of.

Bud Otis,  Republican Candidate  for County Council — At Large.

Harold “Bud” Otis served the citizens of Frederick County on Capitol Hill for a number of years as the Chief of Staff for former Congressman Bartlett.  His background in this arena alone is one of the primary reasons I believe that Bud is ideally suited for a seat on the County Council.  As has been written in the pages of this blog several weeks ago, Charter Home Rule brings a different kind of structure to the processes of government than our county has ever known.  His experience has been to work through and collaborate with the legislative and executive levels of  government.

Having known and worked with Otis over the years, I have found him to be a strong, but quiet leader who knows how to get things done.  He listens … really listens to what his constituents have to say.  I find this to be a unique quality among candidates for office, as more often than not, they are spouting off their platform positions before taking the time to understand the person to whom they are “talking to” (verses “talking with”).

Bud is trustworthy, fiscally responsible and balanced in his approach to addressing controversial issues such as growth, development, educational and public safety needs.

~~~

These are my views on the above candidates, what do you think?  Who are your choices in next month’s primary?

… and stay tuned, as more political thoughts and endorsements will appears in the coming weeks and months on the MacRo Report Blog.

The author: Rocky Mackintosh, President, MacRo, Ltd., a Land and Commercial Real Estate firm based in Frederick, Maryland. He has been an active member of the Frederick, Maryland community for over four decades.  He has served as chairman of the board of Frederick Memorial Hospital, as a member of the Frederick County Charter Board from 2010 to 2012 and the Board of Directors of the Community Foundation of Frederick County … to name a few.  

Land Use, Lies and Politics

Was there ever a time, long ago, maybe in the last century, that land use wasn’t a political hot potato in local elections?

Once again the issue of land use in Frederick County is a topic that gets twisted to suit the County Executive candidate platforms.

Yes, land use is a major underlying theme in this battle between the current President of the Board of County Commissioners Blaine Young, and his immediate predecessor Jan Gardner.  But the interesting twist in the debate thus far is that it seems that most of the land use accusations are coming from supporters of the candidates.

In a review of the Frederick News Post Op-Ed pages over the last three months, Young has been labeled “No true Republican” for “the shoving of the Monrovia Town Center down the throats of local citizens” … and Gardner’s past attempts to challenge annexations, which in part contributed to seven of the county’s  municipalities to file suit against her board, has been risen from the archives of BOCC history.

There has been a call for a debate.  But with Gardner unopposed in the Democratic primary and Young facing two underfunded challengers, it is too early to set up that cage match … they are clearly having too much fun aiding the News Post in newspaper sales.

Were one to fly in from the planet Theta 116 VIII  (of Star Trek fame), the visitor to Frederick County may well see a contrast of two different so-called realities:

  • the ongoing barbs, bites and BS read and heard among the candidate faithful, and
  • the visual beauty and obvious harmony of a community that comes together selflessly for any good cause that promises to improve the quality of life for its residents.

Last week in an online exclusive article for the Spring 2014 Edition of the MacRo Report Newsletter, I dedicated a lot of text and facts to the reality of the land use debate in Frederick County.

Rather than debating it here, I invite you to take a few moments to click over to 2014 Frederick County Election Update:  Land Development & Growth are Hot Issues, which is the beginnings of our 2014 Series on the issues and questions of Frederick County’s upcoming elections.

Is the development of real estate in Frederick County really that much of a threat to our quality of life?

The author: Rocky Mackintosh, President, MacRo, Ltd., a Land and Commercial Real Estate firm based in Frederick, Maryland. He has been an active member of the Frederick, Maryland community for over four decades.  He has served as chairman of the board of Frederick Memorial Hospital and as a member of the Frederick County Charter Board from 2010 to 2012, to name a few.  

 

MacRo Brokers Lease of Retail Space in Downtown Frederick

MacRo, Ltd. is pleased to announce the leasing of 3,190 square feet of office space at 154 N. Market Street to Smokestack Studios.

Kathy Krach of MacRo represented the tenant in the transaction.  Dee Perry of Noahs’ FMC represented the landlord.

Smokestack Studios is a high-end home furnishings and accessories store; the store owner and operator is a former designer for Restoration Hardware and plans to open for business in June of 2014.

For more information on how MacRo, Ltd. Real Estate Brokerage Services may be able to assist you in the sale or leasing of your commercial or industrial property, contact Kathy Krach at 301-332-7891 or kathy@macroltd.com.

2014 Frederick County Election Update: Land Development & Growth are Hot Issues [Access the Digital Edition of the MacRo Report]

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  • 2014 Frederick County Election Update
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