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August 12, 2008

A big shout-out to great new sponsor Crystal City Business Improvement District. They along with JK Moving/Storage, Vornado/Charles E. Smith, and the Consumer Electronics Association have partnered on the first annual POWER PURGE to ensure that your obsolete electronics are recycled — it's green and secure.  Event goes through 7:30p on Thurs.  More info here. 


Until now, wags say, the city of Alexandria has wanted all buildings in the historic Old Town district to look like George Washington slept there. Standard punch windows, 1700s look, you know. Carr Properties is about to change all that with a dramatic glass curtain wall, 5-story, 115k SF trophy office building at 1701 Duke Street. Next week the backhoes arrive to start pile driving steel beams around the perimeter and digging the hole.


Carr Properties CEO Oliver Carr, Carr construction manager Ed Lash, and their ace broker, Cassidy's Spencer Stouffer showed us the plans yesterday—sure, they could have done this in a conference room, but did you get a load of that springtime weather we're having?  Oliver says they decided to develop 1701 (just one of three ground ups projects they've done since forming the company early last year) after watching rents rise and vacancies drop at Carr Properties' other Old Town properties (they also own King Street Station Phase I, Madison Place on Montgomery Street, and the Atrium Building at the corner of Washington and Duke). And although no one's immune to the debt crunch, Oliver says that due to the fact Carr's owned by JP Morgan, it has an unusual ability to stay active in this market, and is actually on the hunt for other Metro-oriented development sites as well.


Ed shows us a bird's eye view of the construction site, which is preserving the 1800s vintage house at the corner of the lot. Because it was an historic area, Ed tells us they were required to have archaeologists sift through dirt with toothbrushes; they discovered an 1800s sistern that will also be preserved on adjacent Edmonson Plaza (named for two sisters who escaped from slavery and were mentioned in Uncle Tom's Cabin). Carr was allowed to raze the main buildings on the site: three low slung and quite unhistoric warehouses. SmithGroup is designing; Clark is building.


Spencer, who is leasing the space for Carr, tells us they already have over 120k SF of proposals out with high interest from potential tenants. The first floor will be retail, most likely including a white tablecloth restaurant. The building is nearby the blue and yellow lines of King Street Metro and is aimed at associations and professional service firms. Spencer has quite the track record for filling up Old Town venues: in excess of 100 SF leases each of the last couple years for the likes of MPRI Consulting at Braddock Place and the Oncological Society at Carlyle


Though Oliver tells us his family got its start in real estate when his great uncle worked as a construction manager for the Old Post Office building in downtown DC, he admits they didn't have anything to do with the Masonic Temple in the background here (sorry for the departure from the story line, but we thought it made a nice picture). As for summer plans, both Spencer and Oliver are off to that floating Washington real estate reunion known as Nantucket in the next couple weeks. Oliver goes up almost every weekend in the summer to fish and surf with family, while Spencer is taking his wife and three kids (7 and under) for the family's first visit. 


We stopped into BLT the other day to find Beacon Properties hosteing a lunchtime celebration in honor of the 75K SF lease extension/expansion for law firm Beveridge & Diamond at their 12-story, 350K SF 1350 Eye St.  Above, Beacon's Jeff Kovach, Brigitte Esau, and Karen Gentry; Beveridge's Holly Cannon and COO Katherine Harris; and Beacon's Gregg Popkin.


Also on hand for the good cheer and BLT popovers were Jones Lang's Creighton Armstrong, CBRE's Scott Frankel, JLL's Karla Christensen and Antonio Kittles. Creighton (along with JLL's Elizabeth Cooper) represented B&D while Scott repped Beacon.


The SIGAL Construction crowd donned their work clothes Saturday at Key Elementary School in DC for the final day of the school's buff and scrub. After working for weeks throughout the summer, the group of 30 employees (plus folks from Truland System, Inc. and Joshua Construction) worked to fix doors, repair playground equipment, patch roofing, touch up paint, and rewire electrical work. (We haven't cracked the Sigal code yet, so don't what those two white shirts in the sea of dark shirts means. Is that management, or did they just forget to do their washing?)

Goulston & Storrs
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