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July 30, 2008

Announcing our Schmooze & Breakfast with top developers John Shooshan (Shooshan Companies), Bob Buchanan (Buchanan Partners), and Bruce Baschuk (J Street/Hagner/Woodmark). August 21, 7:15-9:00 AM, BLT Steak. Thanks to great sponsors Seyfarth Shaw and Dietze Construction. Early bird sign up!


Well, when you have $84 trillion in private equity (or is it just $84 billion?), it's not like the gems are any too hidden, but actually, not everyone realizes how big a role commercial real estate plays in Carlyle's portfolio-they don't mint their money just buying and selling Hertz, Booz Allen, and Dunkin' Donuts. 18% of Carlyle's investments are now in real estate.


We took this yesterday at Carlyle's 1001 Penn Ave. office with US Real Estate head Rob Stuckey, left, and colleague Mark Schoenfeld. We hope you'll forgive a NYC example, but we're polishing up our knowledge for after Labor Day when we hope to start publishing daily there. With the Chera family (aka Crown Acquisition Corp.) this month, Carlyle bought 49% of (and full control over) a 90k SF "retail condo" on the first two floors of 666 Fifth Avenue (between 52nd and 53rd). The whole 100% was priced at  $525M, which tells you something about the value of retail in that area considering the Kushner family paid $1.8B last year for the whole 1.4 million SF, 41-story tower. But the falling dollar has made the stretch of Fifth between Rockefeller Center and the Apple Store at 57th the most foot trafficked consumer goods mecca in the US.


Stanley and Haim Chera, specialists in retail, were key to the deal: They knew in advance they could bring in a sizzling Abercrombie Kids store, in return for which Kushner was willing to buy out an existing below-market Brooks Brothers lease; other showcases there are the NBA Store and Hickey Freeman. Around the Chera's conference table at 33rd and 5th (with an occasional meal at Le Cirque), Carlyle planned strategy, and they are nothing if not competitive: Rob, who started with Carlyle in '98, is a 2nd degree black belt in karate (something he does with his 12 year old son now). They have lots more deals in them: Carlyle closed its fifth fund ($3 billion equity) 18 months ago and has four years to deploy it. About a third of their work is in NYC, with DC a not too trailing second.



We visited with Associated Builders and Contractors CEO Kirk Pickerel, who heads an organization of 25,000 members with 78 chapters nationwide and a $27M budget. What's their mission? "We're for free enterprise," he told us at his Arlington headquarters-with almost religious zeal, which is only appropriate: In a former life he was a Baptist minister. Kirk left the pulpit 25 years ago to become membership director of ABC's Virginia chapter, and in 2000 he became the first CEO of ABC to come from a local chapter. ABC is part of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, which Kirk says is attempting to secure workers' right to a secret ballot when voting on union organizing. ABC was also behind a big legal victory before the National Labor Relations Board in a case finally resolved last year. As Kirk explains it, the case reversed a previous rule that whenever a construction company sued a labor organization and lost, the unsuccessful suit was automatically considered an unfair labor practice and required payment of the union's attorney fees.


As head of ABC, Kirk is also the publisher of Construction Executive magazine. He's managed to get out of the office enough to visit 49 of the 50 states (we assume North Dakota is on his bucket list). He's also a big hiker who has gone trekking through Borneo-perhaps looking for construction opportunities?



Despite the humidity, last night was beautiful on the water, so we joined CREW's Northern Virginia chapter for its summer happy hour at the Chart House in Old Town. Prichard Industry's Nancy Payne, Washington Group Sales' Debby Allen, Costello Construction's Andrea Zeitman, Cort's Celeste McLane, and Wisnewski Blair & Associates' Jennifer Bottomley were among 50 women (and even a couple guys) who had drinks on the deck-or in the air conditioned bar overlooking the Potomac. Celeste tells us Cort has a high profile client these days: they've outfitted John McCain's Crystal City campaign headquarters with rental furniture. Andrea says Costello is breaking ground late August on the Silver Spring Civic Building in Veteran's Plaza. She also filled us in on her wedding in Miami and recent honeymoon in Fiji where she and her new hubby weren't content just to sip mai tais on the beach-so they also went skydiving.


Omnifics' Kara Takesuye, WBA's Liz Fulton, The Orchid Group's Petra Horna, ECS' Tara Connell, Dominion Construction's DJ Cleary, and WBA's Mary Cato. Liz tells us WBA is designing the lobby for the Washington Property Co's Washingtonian Center off of I-270, on target for LEED Gold certification. She also just got back from visiting family in North Carolina where she did what Carolinians apparently do in the summer: drink lots of sweet tea and eat tomato sandwiches. Tara says ECS just wrapped up their work doing the environmental and geo-technical engineering for National Harbor and now they're down at Fort Belvoir working at New Campus East.


Capitol Commercial Real Estate Advisory Group's Selena Williams, Hickok Cole's Vanessa Bridges, NAI The Michael Companies' Elizabeth Daily, Kimball Office's Rhonda Hammack, and Hickok's Natalie Hnatiw. Vanessa and Natalie tell us Hickok just closed the contract on the 155k SF Center for Strategic International Studies in DC on Thomas Circle, slated for 2010 completion. They also designed Patent and Trademark's space in Shirlington's Randolph Square for Monument. Selena says Capitol CREAG's busy working with clients like high security agencies NSA and Border Patrol.

Arent Fox
Reznick Group
Tower Oaks
Reston Limo
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