March 13, 2015

What Do
Tenants Want?

Ah, the eternal real estate question. But while it used to be largely the province of architects, in today's sluggish office market it's also obsessed over by owners and developers. That's why we're excited to be holding our Future of Office Summit, March 24 at the DC Convention Center. We asked some panelists for a sneak preview.

Meridian principal Gary Block, snapped in his Bethesda office yesterday, says “location, location, location” has been replaced by “experience, experience, experience.” As in environment, atmosphere. Same as in resi. It's a Millennial thing, but now seeping broadly into the culture.

CohnReznick (Field) MDCRE

JBG leasing chief Quinn Rounsaville, posing yesterday with the JBG lion, says his firm has had great success doing spec suites, because so many people are happy to have all the work already done even if it's not exactly what they might have designed on their own. Plus, JBG offers two dollars in allowance for further customization for every lease year you sign for. You can use it for reconfiguration or wiring or whatever you like.

The suites are typically 1,500 to 3k SF. They've leased dozens and are showing about 20 more currently at some of their properties like 1025 Jefferson and the Foundry Building. JBG is open about terms on a dedicated website, and uses a 13-page short form for transactions. Quinn says one of the big benefits for both the tenant and JBG, as a result, is saving valuable time. They believe it's an appealing solution for a variety of associations, tech and media firms, and service providers.

Hickok Cole architectural trendspotter Yolanda Cole, in her G'Town office yesterday (with "facade studies" of Alexandria's Robinson Terminal North), says the “collisions” and interactions celebrated in the open space era are terrific, but she sees a growing desire for “focus space.” Not necessarily the privacy of traditional office, but some medium between that and unfettered openness.

The challenge of figuring out what tenants want is so intriguing, it was the subject of a winning application to the firm's in-house “iLab scholarship” program. Each year, HCA gives two employees each 80 hours of time to pursue self-proposed research projects, and this year one of the grants awarded was for creating a new approach to co-working environments.

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Will Falls Church's Oldest Building Become a Cafe?

The owners of The Liberty Tavern, North Side Social Club and Lyon Hall in Arlington are looking to convert the oldest building in Falls Church into a café, Falls Church News Press reports. Mark Fedorchak and his partners bought the old and worn Blue and Gray Building at 205 Park Ave, and they're moving through the Falls Church Historic Commission and Historic Architectural Advisory Board. They've had a positive response so far, because they want to preserve the integrity of the original building. However, word on the street is the critters that have come to call this place home are furious and threatening to organize a protest. The Blue and Gray Building, sometimes referred to as the “Old Cloverdale House,” was built in 1797 by Willson Clover. [FCNP]

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No Public Buses for MGM National Harbor

Prince George's County officials received a letter from MGM informing them that the National Harbor casino opening next year won't need public bus stops, the Washington Post reports. MGM feels guests at the $1.2B casino won't use public transportation, and hardly any employees will use it to get to work. Transit advocates have expressed shock, not only because DC is a transit city, but because it seems to contradict a statement MGM National Harbor president Lorenzo Creighton made in an interview last month: “We will be a huge advocate for public transportation.”

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Meanwhile, Washington Business Journal reports Marriott's AC Hotel at National Harbor plans to entice Millennials with a minimalist design and offerings like craft beer and cocktails, tapas, imported prosciutto, and bartenders who double as local guides with restaurant recommendations. [WaPo, WBJ]


Residential to Replace Shaw Church

Shaw Development Partners, a joint venture of Four Points and the Warrenton Group, is planning a residential building with ground floor retail for the site of the Scripture Cathedral Church, reports District Source. Pending approval from the Historic Preservation Review Board, the church at 810 O St NW will be torn down for a nine-story, 60-unit building designed by Phil Esocoff of Esocoff & Associates. Meanwhile, Roadside Development and Dantes Partners, the venture behind nearby City Market at O, were selected to develop 70 residential units with ground floor retail at an adjacent parking lot. So, Esocoff is designing to optimize views and avoid forcing residents to stare directly into the wall of the Dantes building. As for the exterior, Esocoff is using his other project, The Whitman, as inspiration. [DistrictSource]

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SED Games: Sold Out!

Wow, that was quick. The 3rd annual SED Center Pub Games, March 23 at Penn Social in Penn Quarter, are officially sold out. Congrats to the organizers, and thanks to all supporters of this great cause. SED Center is for the economically challenged Hispanic community in Petworth, providing no cost nursery and preschool for 160 disadvantaged children throughout the year. This year's title sponsor is “View the Space (VTS)” and co-chairs include JBG's Todd Rich, JLL's Evan Behr, MRP's Zach Wade, Skanska's Sarah Hubbard, Wingate Hughes' Gavin Daniels and Boston Properties' Sam Orr. 30 real estate teams compete in events like shuffleboard, Trivial Pursuit, skeet ball and bar games. Additional attraction this year: a mechanical bull. Cannot wait to see Ray Ritchey in action!


Retail Sales Continue Surprise Slide

Brutal cold weather and heavy snowfall across much of the country in February hurt retail sales even more than expected, with sales dropping 0.6% according to a Commerce Department report released today. It was the third consecutive month of declines—a dubious feat last achieved in February 2012—and they hit nearly every product category while surprising economists who had predicted a 0.3% uptick in pre-release surveys. [Reuters]

Continue reading here.


Where's the Wine?

Where's some great wine at affordable prices in DC restaurants? That's what Dining Bisnow editor Laura Hayes took up this week, looking at selections you can find at the Iron Gate Inn, Casa Luca and The Red Hen. What?! You don't read Dining Bisnow? How can you possibly know where to eat?? Fortunately, it's free, and you can sign up in 60 seconds. Subscribe now!


Bisnow Beltway Bash in Vegas

Headed to ICSC's annual expo in Las Vegas this spring? If so, we hope you'll join our party for the Metro Washington DC region at the Wynn Hotel's incomparable Tryst Nightclub from 5:30 to 8:00 PM on May 18.

We're honored to announce that our supporting firms include these top retail players of the DC region:

Founding Partners
Acadia Realty Trust
ASB Real Estate Investments
Calkain Companies
Combined Properties
Cushman & Wakefield
Douglas Development
Federal Realty Investment Trust
JBGR Retail
McCaffery Interests
Miller Walker Retail Real Estate
Peterson Companies
Potomac Development
Roadside Development
Vornado/Charles E. Smith
Washington REIT (formerly WRIT)

Presenting Sponsors
Papadopoulos Properties

Founding Sponsors
Continental Title Group
Divaris Real Estate
Goulston & Storrs
Renaud Consulting
Rosenthal Properties
Shulman Rogers
Washington Gas

More information? Please check out our event page, or contact