Chesapeake Real Estate Company Opening Coldwell Banker Office in Cecil County


Chesapeake Real Estate Company, a locally owned and operated affiliate of Coldwell Banker Real Estate, announced the opening of a new regional Real Estate Center at 2525 Augustine Herman Highway in Chesapeake City effective March 1, 2018. The company, licensed to do business in Maryland and Delaware, currently owns and operates regional offices with 48 real estate agents in Chestertown and Easton.

“We are excited to grow into and with Cecil County, said Hugh Smith, Broker. “We think that the upper eastern shore is more than ready for the state-of-the-art digital marketing technologies that our company enthusiastically embraces. Our technology and training allow us to get local listings seen by more people worldwide faster than any other marketing strategy. This results in our sellers achieving the highest possible price in the shortest possible time on market.”

The new Regional Real Estate Center will be managed by Joe Zang, a top-producing veteran of 12 years in the local real estate industry. “I came to Coldwell Banker”, said Zang, “because of their investment in technology and training. I can do a better job for my clients and customers with this extraordinary level of support.”

The new facility will incorporate the latest in residential real estate office design and cutting edge technology.  Visitors to the South Village Center location will be greeted by an intelligent window storefront. This application is a groundbreaking through-glass-interactive display system that enables foot-traffic consumers to interact with content, including current real estate listings, through the storefront glass.

The “Café” interior design of the Sales Center is reflective of the modern real estate office design that is being adopted in markets around the country. While there are no private offices, there are comfortable private meeting spaces, shared agent workspaces and informal seating groups around large-screen television monitors facilitating collaboration.

“We intend our new offices as a workspace where the information age and the public can come together.” Says Smith,” It’s a space where agents and their clients can meet to review documents, close  transactions, or just chat about their  local real estate needs. We want our neighbors to just drop-by and talk real estate.”

“Brokers have done business the same way for more than 100 years. The consumer now demands that the real estate industry change. We’re bringing this change to the Upper Shore”.

Local Real Estate Broker Adds Full-Time Digital Marketing Specialist to Staff


Hugh Smith, Broker of Coldwell Banker Chesapeake Real Estate, with three regional real estate offices serving the eastern shore of Maryland, announced the appointment of Jesse James as the firms Digital Marketing Strategist. Ms. James will be responsible for building the Broker’s digital brand and for working one-on-one with agents to build and manage their digital reputations.

According to the National Association of Realtors 2017 Survey of Home Buyers and Sellers, more than 94% of Buyers used the internet last year to find their next home”. Sellers and their real estate agents have followed the Buyers on-line and compete aggressively for their attention.

“The internet is a crowded place. It’s easy to get lost”, says Hugh Smith, Broker of Coldwell Banker Chesapeake Real Estate. “There is a steep learning curve, the rules are always changing, and it initially requires a lot of work. It’s easy to notice that Brokers and agents who are mastering digital marketing strategies are out-competing those who stick with traditional methods.”

We believe”, said Smith, “that there is a new generation of eastern shore agents who share our vision and who want to leverage digital marketing strategies for the  benefit of their sellers. It is this need that we are seeking to fill with the employment of Jess James as a full-time digital marketing specialist”.

“It is my goal to share knowledge to empower our agents to embrace the digital real estate market to grow their business” said James.

Ms. James will split her time between the Company’s offices in Easton, Chestertown and Chesapeake City

Chestertown Agent Recognized by Peers for Integrity


Lisa Raffetto, of Coldwell Banker Chesapeake Real estate in Chestertown, was recognized the Bay Area Association of Realtors (BAAR) with the 2017 J. Hurst Purnell Integrity Award at its Awards Brunch held at the Bridges Restaurant  on December 5, 2017.

The award was created to recognize the late J. Hurst Purnell, a longtime resident and Realtor of Kent County, who was known for his integrity and honesty in all of his dealings. Ms. Raffetto, who has practiced real estate locally for the past 19 years, is the daughter of the awards namesake.

“Lisa’s ethos of integrity permeates throughout our office,” said Broker Hugh Smith. “She leads by example; is a friend, mentor, and teacher to new and experienced colleagues alike.”

Doug Ashely, Chairman of the BAR Awards Committee said “Congratulations Lisa! We’re sure your father would be very proud..”

Spy Habitat Case Study: Enniskillen Road in Easton


The Enniskillen property dates from 1880 and had been in one family for many years. The new owners wished to update the house for themselves and their seven-year old daughter as a weekend and summer retreat. They retained the design team of Atelier 11 Architects of Easton, Interior Designer Lisa Bartolomel of Washington, DC, and Landscape Designer Jan Kirsh of Bozman to collaborate with them on a major renovation that affected all three floors of the historic house.


The architects’ first goal was to open up the central part of the house to the waterfront. The rear den faced the water but had only one window. The den was extended and transformed with a graceful curved wall of windows with 180 degree views to the Tred Avon river. The kitchen was relocated from the front of the house to the former den to create a large space for cooking, informal dining and seating area for family relaxation.PIX #3 &# 4The architects improved circulation on the first floor in two ways.  First they took space from the rear screened porch to create a short hall that connected the entrance hall and main stair with the new kitchen area.  Skylights were added so the formal dining room would not lose daylight from the rear porch.The architects then added a porch with a door to the lawn beyond and mud room next to the relocated kitchen. The garage was extended to create a corridor from the new rear door to the front “service” door with access to a new laundry room, coat closets, other storage and the new kitchen area.

On the second floor, the master bedroom became a suite with the addition of new walk-in closets and storage. The third floor unfinished attic became the domain of the Owners’ young daughter and guests.

The pergola and pool house were also new additions.  The pool house is a “mini-house” complete with fireplace, sitting, kitchen, and loft sleeping areas. The curved outdoor shower echoes the new bowfront family room in the main house and the breakfast area in the pool house.  Interiors:  Interior Designer Lisa Bartolomel worked with the Owners to create a serene color palette of cream, dusty rose and sage green with splashes of color. The kitchen’s white cabinets, granite counters and wood floors create a bright and inviting space.

The kitchen is an integral part of the light filled informal dining and seating area that makes this space the hub of the house.Comfortable upholstered pieces are mixed with wood tables and chests throughout the house in keeping with the warm and inviting look.Landscape Design:

Jan Kirsh was fortunate to have a stunning site on the Tred Avon River with an established backdrop of mature specimen trees that had sheltered the house for over 100 years to inspire her design. She added a complex plant palette with selections to introduce native plants, texture and seasonal color. The gardens were renovated to become  “outdoor rooms” for family gatherings and entertaining friends.The flow of the gardens was designed to entice the owners and guests along the axis from the main house to the surrounding patios, the spacious pool area and broad lawn beyond to the Tred Avon River. She worked closely with the architects to firmly establish a strong visual connection between the house and pool house.

Credits:  Atelier 11 Architects, Easton, MD   Lisa Bartolomel, Washington DC   Jan Kirsh, Landscape Designer, Bozman, MD   Doug Bale of D& D Development  The property is now for sale.  For information contact Barb Watkins of Benson and  Mangold at 410-310-2021 or

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee. Her passion for Italian food, wine and culture led her to Piazza Italian Market where she is the Director of Special Events, including weekly wine tastings and quarterly wine dinners.

Coldwell Banker Chesapeake Real Estate Earns the Premier Office Bronze Award




The Chestertown Real Estate Varsity Team

This year, the prestigious 2016 Premier Office Bronze Award goes to the Chestertown Office of Coldwell Banker Chesapeake Real Estate. This is the second year this office has received this distinguished award. The Bronze level Coldwell Banker® Premier Office is the highest honor Coldwell Banker offices can earn.  The Chestertown office is located at 114 B Cross Street, Chestertown, MD.  It can be reached at 410-778–0330.  Chesapeake Real Estate has been an affiliate of the Coldwell Banker® system for 7 years.


KRM Development’s Dixon Square Project — an Update


There are big doings in the works just north of Chestertown.

Well, technically the area is already in Chestertown – some 80 acres north of Scheeler Road and east of Route 213 were annexed by the Mayor and Council last year at the request of KRM Development, which owns the tract. The property, currently undeveloped, is destined to be the site of Dixon Square, a new warehouse complex for Dixon Valve and Coupling – and a lot more. The Chestertown Spy sat down with Kate Gray, president of KRM, and Bryan Matthews, KRM’s vice president, to talk about plans for what appears to be one of the most ambitious projects to come to Chestertown and Kent County in a long time.

Kate Gray and Bryan Matthews of KRM Development  (photo by Jane Jewell)

Spy: Could you tell us how this project came about?

Kate Gray: We looked at an opportunity for Dixon, which is our parent company, to expand and to grow in the area.  Their success is going well, and the opportunity to grow in Chestertown was an exciting venture for us. So as a real estate division of Dixon, a manufacturer, we were able to look at property in town and look to construct a business campus.

Bryan Matthews: I came on board last July, and at that point the team had already acquired 80-plus acres just north of town, where we remember the old airport used to be, and that had already been annexed, so the design process, the concept of not only expanding some Dixon facilities but also the opportunity and possibility of other properties there, was well under way at that point.

Kate: The initial piece of it is the warehouse or distribution center for Dixon Valve, currently located in the Chestertown Business Park, across from Dixon’s main building. It will be an expansion of that facility and enable them to have an upgraded warehouse and distribution center here in town – which will be the kickoff project within this business campus. We’ll actually be starting site work on that within the month of June. So it’s very exciting to be able to put a shovel in the ground here shortly. Soon after that we will be beginning the site work for the apartment complex. There will be two phases for the apartments. The first phase is three buildings, which is about 85 to 88 apartments. And ultimately there’s the potential for six buildings, so there could be double that, depending on the market absorption.

Bryan: This will be and in all likelihood will be a mixture of one-bedroom, two bedroom and three- bedroom apartments. And most importantly, I’ve been asked by members of our mature population, will there be elevators? And the answer is yes, we will.

The next phase would be a fitness center, and assuming everything else in the development happens, it’s logical to move the Kent Athletic Club up where the corporate headquarters and warehouse are. That’s also in the design phase that we’re working on at this point. Then ultimately what you see in this picture is the possibility of multiple commercial speculative space, which is what KRM does – build business parks and then attract new businesses and new jobs to Kent County. And that’s one of the exciting pieces of this project to all of us, the economic opportunity of impact to the local area, with new jobs and new businesses.

Site plan for Dixon Square

Kate: (showing site plan) On the west is Route 213 and on the south is Scheeler Road. The apartments will be off Scheeler Road. There will also be a road that goes in – it’s currently Haacke Drive, which will extend into the business campus. There will also be an entrance off 213, which will be the main entrance to the business campus. So the buildings can eventually be accessed from 213 or off of Scheeler Road by Haacke Drive. KRM Development is managing the full business campus development with our construction company KRM Construction, with some contractors that they’ll hire as well. Ultimately we will not be operating the apartments. The large blue building will be the Dixon Valve distribution center, the potential headquarters building; the purple is the potential future fitness center, which would be Kent Athletic Club moving to that location. The yellowish-gold are the speculative spaces that could be a variety of uses. Flex, commercial, warehouses, maybe even restaurants.

As you can see, this is an unprecedented economic development opportunity for the area – the town, the county and really the region. We haven’t seen development of this scale in Chestertown in quite some time, and it’s really important to us that the town and the school systems and the jobs that the town area are able to offer are quality – and it all builds one healthy community. It’s growth opportunity and the hope that this business campus will be the live/work/play theory of development.

Bryan: Another example of how when you get involved in a large project like this, new and exciting opportunities kind of present themselves. Within the first phase of the warehouse, there’s the possibility of utilizing some of the space there as a career training center there, which would be a workforce development opportunity. Dixon already does a tremendous amount of training for their employees. And the thought is that we double down on it. Dixon’s already good at it for their employees — can we expand that to the greater community for other job training, not just Dixon? And we’re in conversation with some potential partners on that. We may really help provide an opportunity for training and retraining for new careers and jobs for people in the Upper Shore. If you have a world class training program right here, people might want to come in from anywhere, spend six weeks here, get the training, get the certification, then be job-ready in that particular field. The high-speed fiber coming to Kent County is the game changer for us as well. For a project like this, when we’re talking to businesses in other parts of the country, trying to attract them to come here, one of the keys certainly is having that high-speed fiber.

Kate: Putting all the pieces together, the fiber coupled with all the exciting things that are happening in the downtown area, the arts and entertainment and the marina, and this project, I think Chestertown’s really poised to grow and to benefit from it. We need to attract young people to the area – I know that’s said over and over again, in many different venues – but from our standpoint of KRM and Dixon, having young people to work at Dixon and the ability for them to live and work within the business campus is certainly attractive.

Bryan: That’s one of the reasons why the apartments are part of this project. Residential housing is not what KRM usually does – it’s not the business we’re in – but with the need for housing in this area, both to attract young people and for others to be able to stay in this area of the community, it’s why we included it in this project.

Spy: What encourages you to believe that this project will have a better chance than some of the past ones that didn’t turn out (Stepney, Clark Farm, etc.)?

Kate: We’ve had a lot of cooperation with the town and the county and the state also, and it’s encouraging that there can be growth in the area. We’re fortunate that Dixon is, if you will, the anchor tenant for the space. In terms of the apartments, we also have done feasibility studies and there is a shortfall of rental property in the area. So the feasibility studies have come back with glowing results that the market certainly can handle this type of multi-family housing. But from the business campus perspective, it certainly is Dixon being the anchor, and then the hope with the fiber, and the other economic development excitement that’s happening in the area – those things can make for a successful business campus – which we have done in other areas. The Chesapeake Bay Business Park in Stevensville has certainly been the old adage – “you build it and they will come.” And it’s been extremely successful. We have about 80 businesses that occupy space in our buildings there, with about 1100 employees that make up those businesses.

Bryan: Paul Reed Smith is back in there. And the Chestertown Business Park is larger than most people realize – between 25 to 30 businesses there, and more than a couple of hundred jobs, people working in there. So as Kate says, there’s experience doing this. We’re not new at the business park side of things.

Spy: How are the hospital’s plans going to impact you?

Bryan: Especially when it comes to trying to recruit and attract new businesses that are considering relocating to Kent County, schools and medical care are two of the highest priorities, and the first questions we get, along with what kind of a trained work force do you have in your area. So having a quality hospital here is absolutely a key piece of the puzzle for us. That’s why we are very vested in that process and the communication that’s going on. We certainly are encouraged by what seems to be moving in this direction, but we’re paying close attention to it, because it makes a difference.

Spy: You said you’re breaking ground on warehouse in June; what’s the time frame for the apartments?

Kate: The apartments will follow shortly behind that; some of the site work will actually overlap, because of the road structures and water and sewer that need to be put in. So I believe that within the next week we will be awarding the contract and within the next month start with the site work and with them rolling into the apartments as well.

Sp;y: Do you have a completion date?

KG: We had that conversation yesterday – we’re not quite ready to pinpoint that yet. We’re working on the schedules, though.

Bryan:  As you can imagine, there’s a lot of initial site work that has to go on before you see any buildings go up. There’s water, sewer, stormwater, roads – so there’s quite a lot of infrastructure work that will have to be done before we start seeing any buildings.

Kate: The first step is to mow it.

Spy: Will you be moving your offices there?

Kate: Right now, KRM will stay where we are in this building (the former Chestertown Bank on High Street). The office space is fully occupied, but the old bank lobby and former teller area still remains beautiful and untouched. We were able to get permitting to add some restrooms and we’ll be able to rent it out as a venue or event space. We’re probably a few months out from that since we’ve just begun renovations.




Dreaming a Business: J.R. Alfree has Plans to Renovate High Street Building


Local restaurateur and entrepreneur J. R. Alfree has a dream, and he’s serious about making it happen.

Faced with sky-high costs for maintenance, patchwork repairs, and upgrades, Alfree wants to completely renovate his 27,000 sg ft building on High St. and turn it into a multi-use venue for wedding receptions, six B and B type apartments, and a cake, candy and ice cream shop.

Alfree bought the building, home to the popular Lemon Leaf Café and JR’s Past-Time Pub, two years ago, after moving from his start-up restaurant on Cross Street.

“All that space is empty, so what do I do? Instead of saying the building is falling apart, I say the building has so much potential.”

While considering his options, he was introduced to architect Peter Allen, Peter Allen Construction Management, who knows the High Street building and has been involved with other Chestertown renovation work including Widehall on Water Street. A third, commercial architect Joseph Skinner, Skinner Associates, joined in the conversation and who also recognized the potential in overhauling the structure to take advantage of the rest of the building.

“Within a few minutes, we formed a team that wants to take this building to the next level. I think it’s something that Chestertown needs. I think there’s a need for places for people to stay, and a venue space for wedding receptions, banquets, and live music.”

The three worked together to design a basic structural plan to accommodate the overhaul and expansion.

“We’d try to finish the work in phases to try not to disrupt the current businesses,” Allen says. “It’s a big commercial project. The roof, for example, would have to be completely replaced along with the structural rebuilding. Even then, the group foresees only a day or two of closures during the construction.

Alfree understands a community’s sensitivity to change. For decades, like Andy’s, the back room was Chestertown’s iconic hotspot and venue for professional musicians.

“Some might look at this change as the wrong thing to do with this room—it has a lot of history—but it’s the only right thing to do to save the entire building. You have to understand we’re trying to protect the emotional connection, but it does have to be altered in the long run.”

Despite projected costs of up to a million dollars for the project, Alfree has researched and connected with a list of available loans.

“The thing that I want to say about Kent County is the six years I’ve been here is that there are more resources to help you grow your business than ever before. When I first moved here from Cross Street, I received funding from the Greater Chestertown Initiative, an amazing program,” he says.

Afree points out that various loan opportunities also exist from programs like PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) financing available for energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy installations, along with casino money used to reinvest in local communities.

“The investment group visited Chestertown, fell in love with it, and read our business plan and we’ve developed a great dialogue with them,” Alfree said.

Some might call it risk taking,  but Alfree is quick to recite the history of Dixon Valve’s founder, HW Goodall who at 15 in 1887 quit school to become an errand boy for a company in Philadelphia. Goodall began to design hose couplings but was fired for being too ambitious. Rather than seeing the job loss as a setback, the young man started his own company.

“He saw an opportunity after weighing the needs in his industry. Am I taking a risk? I don’t think so, but every achievement holds a risk,” Alfree says.

The Spy talked with J.R. last Friday.

This video is approximately 6 minutes long.

Coldwell Banker Chesapeake Adds Five New Associates


Coldwell Banker Chesapeake Real Estate announced today the affiliation of five new and experienced associates. The company services the residential real estate markets of the six counties of the upper eastern shore from regional real estate centers in Chestertown and Easton.

“The real estate brokerage business model has fundamentally changed”, says Hugh Smith, Broker and Managing Partner. “We call it ‘The Great Inversion’. Five years ago Buyers found a real estate agent and started looking for property on the eastern shore. Today, the buyers look for the property first and then look for a real estate agent to guide them through the increasingly complex transaction.”

“Finding success in the new real estate market requires a whole new skill set,” says Smith, “Some traditional agents make the effort to learn these skills and prosper. For the most part, however, we as an industry need to hire and train digital natives to guide Buyers and Sellers into the long recovery from 2008. I am excited by the new additions to our team”.

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 10.26.58 AMWilliam (“Billy”) Blessing joins the team as a new agent but no stranger to information technology. Billy is a digital native who has worked since 2005 as an electronic Fraud specialist for Hebron Savings Bank. A native of Easton, Billy is a graduate of Easton High School and attended Salisbury University. He, his wife, and two children are residents of Trappe. “I look forward to making home ownership on the eastern shore accessible to young families like ourselves”, says Blessing, “I love the quality of life here.” Blessing will operate from Coldwell Banker’s regional real estate center on Dover Street in Easton and plans to list and sell real estate primarily in Dorchester, Caroline and Talbot Counties.


Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 10.26.51 AMJessica English comes to real estate from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and a career in Human Services. A graduate of Washington College, Jessica never went home. She has been a resident of Cecil County for the past 15 years and is active in the community. ”My two children give me a window into the community”, says Jessica,” I see things on a daily basis that are useful to buyers and sellers of eastern shore real estate. The internet puts a lot of information in the consumer’s hands. I can help people put that information in a local and human perspective.” English, who plans to list and sell real estate primarily in northern Kent and all of Cecil County, will operate from Coldwell Banker Chesapeake Real Estate’s Regional Real Estate Center in Chestertown.


“BuScreen Shot 2015-12-14 at 10.27.08 AMying and selling residential real estate has become a very complex process”, according to new associate Rick Parreco, “My experience in both real estate and construction can help buyers and sellers of eastern shore real estate navigate that process.” Parreco, who lives on Kent Island, is a real estate veteran who comes to Coldwell Banker from a small independent company. “I look forward to putting the international network and advanced technology of Coldwell Banker to work for my Sellers”. Parreco, plans to continue his real estate practice primarily on Kent Island and in Anne Arundel County from the Easton Regional Office.


DScreen Shot 2015-12-14 at 10.25.37 AMoug Megargee, another graduate of Washington College, is well known around Kent County. An avid sportsman, Megargee comes to Coldwell Banker Chesapeake following a long career in the marine trades industry and a short stint with a small independent real estate company. “The entire real estate market, such as it is, has moved on-line”, says Megargee. “I know the upper eastern shore like the back of my hand, but I am not a digital native. I need training to adapt to the new business model. Coldwell Banker has the tools and training I need to grow.” Megargee, who will operate from the Chestertown Sales Center, plans to focus his efforts on Kent County and northern Queen Anne’s.


Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 10.26.19 AMWilliam “Bill” Haddaway, a Talbot County native, is new to the real estate industry but no stranger to the mid-shore or sales. Anyone who has bought a car locally in the last thirty years has probably bought one from Haddaway. “I have always had an interest in real estate”, says Haddaway, “I think my local knowledge, customer service, and sales skills will match-up will with my customer’s needs. Haddaway, who will joi n the Easton Sales Center, intends to focus his efforts on Dorchester, Caroline, and Talbot Counties.

I’ve Got a Real Estate Question: How to Buy a Home in Rural Kent County from the Big City?


The Spy recently inaugurated a Q and A series with Cross Street Realtors. In this first one, our customer asked Cross Street’s Stacey Kendall about retiring on the Eastern Shore.

Q: I’m retiring to the Eastern Shore from the city and have no experience with buying a home in a rural area. I’m worried that the condition of the house I’m interested in has not been fully disclosed. Is a home inspection a mortgage requirement, or optional, and do you offer this service to help me determine the real value?

A: There are a lot of questions within your one question – Let me try to answer as best I can….

The first step with buying anything is to determine your financial limits.  You should know what you can comfortably afford per month.  We then speak with lenders for qualification and back into the purchase price range determined by that monthly amount…for example, if you don’t want to exceed a payment of $1,050/month with taxes & insurance then you are looking at a loan amount of no more than $155,000.

Now that you know what you can afford, you need to decide on location.  Are you looking to live the “salt life” in or near Ocean City or a “country” life in a water oriented town……if so then Talbot and Kent Counties would be a better match.  If you want Target within 5 minutes Talbot Co is your best bet.  If you are looking for a sophisticated quaint small town where the big box stores aren’t in your back yard then Kent County is it.  Or do you want the convenience of being close to the city at an affordable price?  If so lower QA’s Co will be a fit.  Which area meets your needs?  In order to really determine this you should be working with a Realtor local to those specific areas.  They will not only be able to educate you in an effort for you to make an informed decision, but a good local Realtor will help you beyond the purchase of your home.

Once a buyer can commit to an area, finding the house is easy.  As for value – real estate is an equation.  Property condition doesn’t determine value, the condition of the market does.  A Buyer’s Agent can help determine value by finding sold comparable properties in like-kind condition.  All you need now is to come to a meeting of the minds with regard to price and terms with the Seller and you can schedule inspections to determine the real condition of the property.  Regardless of whether or not a Seller has disclosed or disclaimed – a Buyer should have a home inspection…not because the Seller is withholding information but because maybe a leak has sprung since they disclosed or simply missed disclosing a material defect by accident.

For more information, please go to Cross Street Realtors