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Real Estate Bisnow Real Estate Bisnow
The largest commercial real estate publication in the United States.
May 16, 2012  
WorkSpaces (Left2) DCRE
Amazon On
Prowl in NoVa

It's time for our 3rd Annual Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor Summit. All-star line-up includes Vornado EVP Jim Creedon and Monday Properties EVP Tim Helmig. Thursday, May 31. Sign up today!

Sources not connected with Amazon tell Bisnow the e-retailer is searching for 80k SF in office space along the Toll Road. A big deal with a national tech firm could show that NoVa is recapturing its dot-com era luster even as young people continue to gravitate to the bright lights and urban sounds of DC.
Northern VA's biggest asset is its workforce. The TechAmerica Foundation's Matthew Kazmierczak tells us tech firms are attracted to three things: “Talent, other tech companies, and capital, and Northern Virginia has all of them.” In addition to a large cache of federal IT gurus, NoVa also enjoys access to some of the country's finest schools and biggest institutions. That translates to a “pipeline of potential workers and clients.”
Reznick (Industrial) MDCR
Will Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos be your new neighbor? (He must throw amazing theme bbqs.) “It's more important to go after the right people rather than inexpensive labor,” says Matthew. NoVa's strength is reflected in the data—the nation's two other biggest tech states, California and Texas, lost jobs in the recession and are only now bouncing back. But “Virginia didn't see a downturn, just a slowdown.”
Perhaps the biggest draw is Washington's largest customer: The government. The federal move to the cloud means big business opportunities for heavyweights like Google, Microsoft, and (of course) Amazon. “The government is looking to get efficiencies from private vendors,” Matthew tells us. (We really should have taken some computer classes in high school.)

We dropped by the Capital Hilton this afternoon for a CREW lunch, snapping Host Hotels CEO Ed Walter, former national CREW prez Collete English Dixon, COPT CEO Roger Waesche, NAREIT's Bonnie Gottlieb, WRIT CEO Skip McKenzie, and CREW DC chapter head Sadi Subramanian. Ed, Roger, and Skip gave an update on the REIT market: Capital remains plentiful, they say, but it's challenging to find worthwhile investments. (Investing is like dating, you have the capital, but you have to find the investment you want to be with long term and that can put up with your conditions.) And Skip says "for the first time in my career, some investors are questioning whether Washington is in the country's top three markets."
Interior Architects Gretchen Leigh and Kristen Streeter (with Kimball Office's Jeffrey Gay) tell us they're busy handling a national interior design contract with tech company RedHat. Offices they're currently working on for the firm: Charlotte and Boston.
SunTrust's Barb Mackin, Javelin 19 Investments' Jill Homan, Hickok Cole's Holly Lennihan, GPI's Winona Leaman, JLL's Jenna Opiela, Wolters Kluwer's Charlie Shampang, Clark Enterprises Margie Silberstein, and Davis Carter Scott's Michelle Reyman looked up from their turkey wraps for our camera. Jill tells us she was recently nominated to serve on DC's delegation for the Republican National Committee, and Winona and Holly are working together on a 90k SF renovation for Lockheed Martin in Gaithersburg.

Industrial Heats Up the 'Burbs
Real estate decision makers are active in the Baltimore and DC Beltway suburbs, says First Industrial Realty Trust's Jeff Thomas (snapped yesterday, he speaks May 30 at our Baltimore Industrial Summit). His firm owns 1.9M SF (25 flex/R&D, warehouse, and light industrial properties) in the region. Leasing has been "decent and consistent" in both new biz and renewals, though there has been some ebb and flow. The most recent ebb likely owes to high fuel prices.
Jeff adds that deals are taking longer to lock in as tenants do more due diligence on facility decisions. Third-party logistics providers and government contractors are also waiting in the wings for the government to award contracts. One spot where his firm has seen recent success: 49k SF of new leases within its 370k SF in Woodlawn's Rutherford Business Center. The three deals, including a 27k SF warehouse lease at 7243 Ambassador Rd (above), raised occupancy at First Industrial's Rutherford properties by 13%.

Today in LA
You might think we asked Central Casting to send us our first panel in Santa Monica this morning at our "Silicon Beach" event, but of course this is how techies and even some of this brokers dress here "west of the 405." They said tech and entertainment tenants are now looking for "walkability" in their 'hoods, a previously unheard of concept in Southern California.
300 gathered at the opulent Casa del Mar and amazingly stayed inside despite the perfect beach and weather steps away through those windows (which you could see if we could afford better cameras).
Okay, here's a pic that makes the point. For a similar reason as Willy Sutton went to banks, techies seem to go to beach areas because that's where the water is. Though one panelist, noting the many restaurants, argued "it's all about the food."
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