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Real Estate Bisnow
June 4, 2008


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Retirement: It’s not just for old people anymore. After 26 years as CEO of 26,000 employee MedStar, John McDaniel passed the torch to former COO Ken Samet January 1, but John still has his finger on the pulse (get it?) of the region’s medical community. He’s become first president of the MedStar Foundation, and has been shepherding a huge life sciences development project on the campus of the MedStar-owned Washington Hospital Center. Somebody should introduce this guy to early bird specials and Wheel of Fortune.


Here we are with John at the Madison Hotel the other day as he tells us about one of his current passions: lobbying local business and government leaders to get behind a world class life-science enterprise zone (read: tax free) in the District. Land recently became available near Old Soldiers’ Home, and he believes the location—a stone’s throw from Washington Hospital Center, the VA Hospital, Catholic University, National Rehabilitation Hospital, and Children’s— ideal for a combination clinical care, bio-science research, and academic center. Success would mean an integrated medical community with both state-of-the art research and clinical care. John’s idea earned the backing of the Federal City Council, a group of local business leaders who do great civic things (DC’s version of the Justice League).


John at a recent event with Board of Trade President Jim Dinegar.

Federal City Council project director Jon Fernandez says they adopted the project in early ’08, intrigued it could spark major improvements to DC’s healthcare, employment, and education systems. Phase 1 is complete: meet with stakeholders to find areas of commonality. At the table are hospitals such as Children’s, the VA, and Providence; universities like GW, Howard, Catholic, and Trinity, but also EYA and Crescent Resources, who are developing the nearby McMillan Reservoir and Old Soldier’s Home, respectively. (The city is also always a player when the Council is involved.)  By the end of the year, Jon says they’ll have an action plan to address barriers such as improving transportation and housing in the area and will also propose the best way to harness every stakeholder’s strengths. He credits McDaniel for stoking their enthusiasm.


He may look like a medical industry titan, but John’s got another interest:  He breeds, sells, and races thoroughbreds at Hickory Ridge Farms, his 75-acre full service farm in Highland, Maryland. So we got a history lesson: John told us there used to be a racetrack on Rhode Island Avenue in DC. It was, of course, phased out when the two-party system made the win-place-show method unworkable. (Reached for comment, Hillary Clinton said that while she respected winners at the track, those who place and show are more electable and deserve the roses.)

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