• Five Questions with Ashref Elshazli and Ckori Jones, Brocar Properties
  • August 4, 2017 | Author: Herbert Burgunder
  • Law Firm: Pessin Katz Law, P.A. - Towson Office
  • After initially focusing on residential renovation projects in the suburban Maryland region, Brocar Properties has now set its sights on acquiring value-add commercial and retail buildings — specifically in Baltimore City — with recent purchases occurring in Hampden and Highlandtown. The Clinton, Maryland-based company, owned by Ashref Elshazli and Ckori Jones, recently provided a construction and leasing update on The SEYA Building, a 12,000 square foot project positioned on Eastern Avenue and located directly adjacent to the former Haussner’s restaurant building.

    Q. What initially attracted you to this asset?

    Ckori Jones:

    A. We’ve previously acquired residential properties in Baltimore City and are now pivoting towards the purchase of commercial projects. This building contains a lot of historical relevance and, with our desire to play a significant role in the continued renaissance of Highlandtown and Canton, this provided an ideal entry point. The tremendous work underway on the former Haussner’s site has generated energy in this section of the City, and we intend to leverage this momentum. Its position on the corner block was also a significant attraction.

    Q. Please provide an update on the project.

    Ashref Elshazli:

    A.We are presently knee-deep in the comprehensive renovation of the entire building with a focus on the exterior façade, closing window openings that have been gaping holes for more than ten years, creating a porch on the second floor, updating all the interior systems and establishing a new grand entrance. The total investment is approximately $500,000. We also signed our first new tenant, which has leased nearly half the building. The SEYA CrossFit and Wellness Center will occupy the first floor and basement and offer cryotherapy, hydrotherapy, massage, acupuncture and yoga. A juice bar will also be housed within the structure. We are now looking for concepts to complement this use, such as healthcare-related or sports. Leasing the space out to traditional office space end-users is another option that is drawing interest.

    Q. What is the health of the leasing market in this section of the City?

    Ashref Elshazli:

    A.Eastern Avenue reminds us of the H Street Corridor in Washington, D.C., given the presence of prime retail and major developments that are rising up all around the area. Highlandtown has many similarities to Hampden, which has been established as an emerging, trendy area. We have received tremendous interest from different restaurant concepts – from fast-casual to sit-down and we are evaluating each possibility.

    Q. Please provide an update on Brocar Properties.

    Ckori Jones:

    A.Founded in 2008, we are expanding rapidly and are now licensed to operate in five states. Our focus is almost exclusively on the acquisition of commercial office buildings consisting of 12,000 square feet of space and less. We are attracted to assets that are not fully developed and ripe for growth, providing us with the opportunity to instill our vision into the project. Our pricing sweet spot for acquisitions hovers in the one million dollar range.

    Q. As non-residents of Baltimore City, what attracts you to this area?

    Ashref Elshazli:

    A.For starters, the opportunity to make a difference in an area that is significantly more manageable to navigate and enact change, as opposed to Washington, D.C. We like the idea of being pioneers and Baltimore emits the perfect blend of energy and charm. It is a comfortable area to work in.

    Ckori Jones:

    A.The City has been subjected to a wild roller coaster ride in recent years, not unlike other sections of the country. It is moreblue collar here and there is a lot of pride. Plus, there is more opportunity for a company our size to make a difference. There is a lot more room to grow here. And, it is always great to go somewhere where you can give back and help grow the community.