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January 17, 2012  
 
 
DC Tech Boom?

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There's a real estate angle to everything, and the news that DC is getting a new accelerator—boot camp for fledgling tech companies—is no exception. Over a dozen startups will graduate from the program there within a year, with only one question: Where will they work?
 
Carla Valdes, Jonathon Perrelli, David Lide, The Fort
The accelerator, called The Fort, is the creation of VC fund Fortify.vc. It's designed to help early-stage tech companies improve their products and grow their businesses—blending, as the firm's Carla Valdes says, community and capital. (Even Facebook once had acne.) Fortify co-founder Jonathon Perrelli (above, with Carla and colleague David Lide) tells us “there's a good chance” that companies that have completed the program will stay in DC. His firm looked at dozens of options before signing at 1627 K St: “We surveyed prospective companies that that were prospective Fort members about location and office space, and they wanted three things: Open space, break-out meeting rooms, and Red, Blue, and Orange line Metro access.” 
 
LF Jennings Mini
computer
DC is better know for the Senate than startups, but Jonathon (who was raised in NoVa) thinks it's among the best-positioned cities for tech growth: “This region has incredible intellectual capacity and talent. It's just hidden in the government services sector.” As federal budgets shrink, he predicts that many of the IT and cybersecurity workers cashing paychecks from Uncle Sam will come to the private sector. “They're going to turn around and serve the same client base but at a fraction of the cost," he says. "Hopefully these driven hackers, hustlers, and designers will be supported by a number of co-working, incubation, and accelerator spaces around the city.”
Doug Firstenberg, George Carras
Getting to the question we posed earlier: Where will techies work? Much of Washington's office space is geared toward law firms and other professional services companies. Repositioning for a potential tech boom will likely take place on a building-by-building basis, StonebridgeCarras co-founder Doug Firstenberg (left, with colleague George Carras) tells us. “Tech space takes many forms and users will have different requirements,” he says, “so the ability for an older building to meet requirements will really depend on the specifics.” Neighborhoods he thinks could be attractive to start-ups: NoMa and the Ballpark. (We like scoring runs the old-fashioned way, but it'd be nice to know we could hack the Nats scoreboard, just in case.)
1627 K St
We snapped 1627 K, home of the accelerator, yesterday. Washington's reputation is growing among the national tech community, says Jonathon, and the Mayor's office played a crucial role in bringing The Fort to DC. “We were originally going to locate The Fort in Arlington, but the combination of finding great space in the city, the DC tech community, and financial support from the Mayor convinced us to come to DC.” The District provided the firm with a $100k grant.
Dave Zipper
DC director of business development and strategy Dave Zipper tells us the grant was a one-off deal, but his office is in discussions with other tech companies. (He couldn't comment on reports that Microsoft is eyeing a spot near St. E's.) What he's selling them on: “A big part of any real estate decision is where the workforce wants to live. Commuting in Virginia and Maryland is a pain, and the amenities in the District are unparalleled.” Added bonus: DC officials will have access to the companies at The Fort, and “they'll certainly be advising them on real estate options here as they exit the accelerator.”

Bisnow
Model for DC?
 
One city DC might look to as an example is Austin, home to fast-growing branch offices for Facebook, Google, eBay, and Apple, not to mention the HQ of Dell. Over 250 joined us there this morning for our Future of the I-35 Corridor event, featuring expert panelists like Momark Development prez Terry Mitchell, Corridor Title founder Patrick Rose, Greater San Marcos Partnership prez Amy Madison, Hutson Land Planners principal Duane Hutson, Stratford Land's Steve Sanders, and Plum Creek's Peter French. Sign up for our Texas publications here.
 
The Austonian
As evidence of what a tech boom can do for a city, here's the 683-foot high Austonian (snapped by our publisher this morning) completed in 2010, and full of condos—that are selling...
 
The W
...and the W, finished last year, now a high-occupancy hotel with more condo residences.

Bisnow
Perm Loan for Potomac Gateway
 
Brad Geiger, Cassidy Turley
This afternoon Cassidy Turley announced it arranged an $80M floating-rate perm loan for Potomac Gateway, a two-building, 337k SF office park in Arlington, on behalf of BPG Properties. The firm's Philip Mudd, Brad Geiger (snapped today at the Atlanta airport, where he is working on a portfolio refi for properties in Atlanta and Miami) and Christian Miles brokered the deal, saying that BPG's track record "was very powerful" for the lender: "They took two buildings exclusively leased to GSA and made them into very attractive multi-tenanted assets." The buildings are currently 77% leased to the government, contractors, and private sector tenants.

Bisnow
Thanks You, Dr. King
 
Like many of you, we took yesterday to acknowledge the service of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We admire his courage and continuing impact on American cities. This picture is from 1964, and if 95% of the Bisnow staff had been alive then, we'd certainly have been there to take it. But from what we can glean, it looks like Dr. King's response to someone asking, "How big an impact will transit-oriented development have on city centers in the year 2012?" Whether he's saying "a lot" or "why are you asking me this," it's an appropriate response.
 
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