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January 13, 2012  
 
 
DC'S TOP PROGNOSTICATOR

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Forget about Chris Matthews, George Stephanopoulos, or Bret Baier. When reporters, business people, and policymakers need an economic snapshot of the DC region, they call GMU prof Steve Fuller.
 
GMU, Steve Fuller
Steve's latest local forecast: Live it up now because the region won’t be growing at the same clip, trailing the national economy by 2013-2014. Since federal spending is such a major part of our economy (40% in 2010), and those dollars will be cut back, other industries like hospitality and healthcare will be challenged to make up the difference. Before you start packing your bags, Steve says the local economy will still be among the most robust in the country after NY, LA, and Chicago. After all, we survived the recession and pulled out faster than any other place.
Steve Fuller, GMU
Steve, an avid sailor since owning his first boat in ’65, shows off his 43-foot Hinckley. While much of his economic snapshots and forecasts come from publicly available government info, after more than 35 years in the business, he has some gut instincts about what’s happening. He moved here in '67 after studying at Cornell, and was one of the first economists to study the Washington economy. (Anacostia was the first area he analyzed.) He started looking at the government’s monthly federal contracting data when it became publicly available in 1979. It’s been his focus ever since. At 71 (yes, you read that right), Steve has a target retirement in mind. And that’s where it stayed. Sorry, our charm couldn’t get it out of him.
Steve just got back from 12 days of sailing from St. Lucia to Grenada with his wife. John Lennon used Steve’s boat (before he owned it) to sail from Maine to Bermuda. Steve didn’t know that before buying the 35-year-old vessel; John, who would have been the same age as Steve, had hit a songwriting rut and needed to think. He sailed with a captain and then returned to put together his last album (Double Fantasy), which Steve says was undoubtedly inspired by the trip. Steve even has John’s signature in the boat’s log and a quote he attributed to Truman Capote: “There is no place like nowhere.” Steve will be at our Economic and Political Forecast event on Jan. 24. Sign up today!

Bisnow
Tom Cruise and a Tom Collins
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
Is there a better combination than movies and popcorn? Yes: movies and beer. Residents of Loudoun County will enjoy both with this morning's announcement that Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is coming to One Loudoun. The Austin, TX-based movie-and-drinks spot is the first retailer to sign at the 358-acre mixed-use project (sponsored by Miller and Smith and Japanese investor North America Sekisui House), and construction on the 34k SF space starts this spring. It'll open a year after.

Bisnow
Last Night With Leonsis
 
Ted Leonsis, Washington Capitals, James Cassidy, Cassidy Turley
Yesterday evening we dropped by the Park Hyatt to hear Caps, Wizards, Mystics, and Verizon Center owner Ted Leonsis (snapped with Cassidy Turley's James Cassidy) talk about what makes a city great. It comes down to six factors, he says, and DC is doing pretty well on all of them: Universities, public space, iconic real estate, healthy media institutions, strong business platforms, and, of course, sports teams. (Ted, who can't go anywhere without getting free advice on who to draft and who to cut, thanked James for seating him in between a Philadelphia Flyers and a Pittsburgh Penguins fan.)
 
Advantage Properties, Alex Gross, Bregman Berbert Schwartz & Gilday, Marc Bergoffen, Edgemore Real Estate Services, Donald Gibson
Also on hand: Advantage Properties' Alex Gross, Bregman Berbert Schwartz & Gilday's Marc Bergoffen, and Edgemore Real Estate's Donald Gibson. While Washington might be better-positioned than most, Ted says there's still work to be done. In particular, the region needs a business platform other than government services to sustain it, and tech companies could be the answer. Real estate connection: The city lacks buildings geared toward startups, with most development here designed for "50-year-old lawyers." (Not that we have any ill will toward 50-year-old lawyers—who doesn't love lunch at The Palm?)
 
McCaffery Interests' John Ziegenhein, Rosenthal's Laurence McKenney and Greg Jacobson, and Cassidy's Jud Ryan
McCaffery Interests' John Ziegenhein, Rosenthal's Laurence McKenney, Greg Jacobson, and Cassidy's Jud Ryan. Ted is backing up his tech thesis with more than words: He and former AOL cohorts Steve Case and Donn Davis recently formed the Revolution Growth Fund, which invests in "disruptive, innovative companies that offer consumers more choice, convenience, and control in their lives." (Sounds a lot like Groupon, where Ted serves on the board of directors.)
 
PNC Bank, Ben Aadams, Bank of America, Charles Krick, Mike Kramer, Washington Group Sales, Kate Fus
This picture came out a little blurry, but we're publishing it because PNC Bank's Ben Adams (far left) tells us his friend Mike Kramer of BofA (far right) is a big Bisnow fan. (Welcome to the dream, Mike.) Sandwiched in the middle: BofA's Charles Krick and Washington Group Sales' Kate Fus.

COPT Cuts Dividend; Not a Bad Sign
 
Yesterday morning, COPT prez Roger Waesche and COO Steve Budorick announced their REIT is cutting its annual dividend by 33%, to $1.10 per share. That could be deemed negative news, but KBW REIT analyst Shelia McGrath tells us the step removes uncertainty. The REIT is handling factors under its control, she says, and the mid-8% cap rate it's expecting on $562M worth of property sales through the end of 2013 is realistic. Roger and Steve made the case that leasing demand from DoD tenants is more predictable since the National Defense Authorization Act and defense budget passed in December, but Sheila says investors won't count velocity in the "Things COPT Controls" column until leases are signed.
 
Send story ideas to mike.leon@bisnow.com.
 
 
 
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