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BALTIMORE-In anticipation of the development planned for its Maryland portfolio, Liberty Property Trust has brought Todd Summerfield on board as a new director of leasing. He will focus on the REIT’s industrial portfolio in the Baltimore/Washington Corridor and Harford County as well as its 600,000-sf office portfolio in Hunt Valley–a 3.1-million-sf territory all together. Prior to this, Summerfield was VP of leasing for the James F. Knott Realty Group in Timonium.

Summerfield’s first order of business, he tells GlobeSt.com, is to get acquainted with Liberty’s existing tenant base and fill the current vacancies, which average about 10% in the portfolio. “We want to give Liberty a greater presence in the market,” he says. He will report directly to Lisa Sullivan, the region’s VP and city manager.

Sullivan tells GlobeSt.com that his hire is part of a larger plan to grow Liberty’s industrial and office portfolio. “Over the last 18 months we have identified areas in Maryland where we want to develop. We have already begun the initial phases of that growth,” she says. Liberty has acquired 30 acres in the BWI airport submarket and five acres in Annapolis on which it will develop three, five-story class A office buildings and a 100,000-sf class A office, respectively. Sullivan declined to give the purchase price for the land; development costs for the project, she says, are still being determined. Both the BWI buildings, which will total 370,000 sf, and the Annapolis office building will be designed for LEED gold certification, or possibly higher, she says. The company plans to break ground in fall 2008, delivering both products 12 months later.

Up until now Liberty has not done a significant amount of construction in Maryland, according to Sullivan. The current push for building will be concentrated primarily in the office sector even though its Maryland portfolio is evenly divided between office and industrial. “The cost of land has made it difficult for the numbers to work [for industrial development] but we are still actively looking for industrial land in the Corridor.”

Part of Summerfield’s responsibilities will be to look for viable industrial land in such submarkets as Frederick where land values are more in line with what they should be, Sullivan adds. Eventually, as the firm adds to its Maryland products, he will be responsible for hiring additional leasing staff.

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