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June 26, 2008

Next Bisnow event! Trends in Regional Development. Lunch panel with five star developers: Tower Companies' Jeffrey Abramson, Bozzuto's Tom Bozzuto, JM Zell's Jeff Zell, and Duball's Marc Dubick, Duball. Thurs, July 17th, the Tower Club. Special thanks to HITTSign up now at early bird price.


We were feeling sorry for ourselves not being on vacation in late June, but wow, it was so crowded we thought we walked into an Obama rally. Whatever, thanks to the 450 of you who packed into the National Press Club ballroom for our first Bisnow market conference Tuesday morning, and apologies to the overflow sent up to the balconies (although we hear the view is great up there). Thanks especially to our illustrious panelists who drew these people out of bed so early to hear their prognostications.   


Cassidy & Pinkard's Bob Pinkard, Vornado's Mitchell Schear, Clark's Larry Nussdorf, JBG's Brian Coulter, and Boston Properties' Ray Ritchey took on the topic: "What's going on out there?" Ray said conditions vary a lot by geography, but that depressed prices can mean great buying opportunities. Bob sees choppy waters until 18 months post-election, but says this is very different from the early 90s because there's a lot of equity around and only debt is constricted. Mitchell said fundamentals remain strong, and unlike the 90s it's not the real estate guys at fault. Larry said those with institutional capital are in a pretty good position, but called attention to rising energy prices that weigh heavily on construction costs. Overall, most probably agreed with Brian, who sees the current market as a normal sort of blip and says his motto is "Don't whine through '09." 


Panel #2, "How to Get Deals Done in this Environment," are some of this region's leading entrepreneurs: Lowe Enterprises' Mike Balaban, Carr Properties' Oliver Carr III, Holliday Fenoglio's Steve Conley, Monument's Michael Darby, and MRP Realty's Bob Murphy.  They acknowledge headwinds, but consider it natural entrepreneurial risk that can be dealt with creatively; they say there's plenty of activity still going on, but it just takes more time. Michael predicts a big gap in the market two years from now and recommends thinking about future demand. He told the audience if they want to give him equity, "I'm ready to go build a bunch of buildings now so I'll have the only buildings in two year's time."


Jim and Jennifer Bognet of Bognet Construction with EVP Jeff Kaiser. The Arlington-based construction firm just finished the HQ buildout for Brookfield Properties in the Victor Building, aiming for LEED Gold. Jeff's heading to Hollywood next week with his two daughters, 12 and 15, for star spotting. Don't be surprised if you see a picture of them lunching at The Ivy in the next edition of US Weekly (a magazine that blatantly tries to copycat Bisnow).


Gensler's Jeff Barber, Gigi Webb, and Don Ghent; Trammell Crow's Tom Finan; MOI's Carl Bardy; and Square 134 Architects' Frank Durkin.


What would they do without their morning cup 'o Joe?  Perseus Realty prez Bob Cohen, Reznick Group founder Dave Reznick, and Concord Eastridge president Jeff Arnold. (Hopefully your wives won't see this picture and note you don't use proper saucers.) Bob's heading to Turkey later this summer, while Dave says the only turkey for him is at the Delaware shore in Rehoboth. Jeff's development company works with colleges and universities like Radford, Mary Washington, and Arizona State to build school facilities. He says one of their latest projects is a hotel and conference center for GMU with design partner Gensler.


Arent Fox's Deborah Froling, Denise DeLorey, and Eleanor Zappone; Clark Construction's Diane Hartley; Clark Enterprises' Judith Law; and Arent Fox's Keith Styles. 


Carlyle's Mark Schoenfeld, Ezra Company's Glenn Meltzer, and Reznick's Dave Kessler. Reznick seems to have its work cut out this summer; Dave says one of his main focuses is helping homebuilders reposition at a time of distressed debt. 

Story ideas?  Contact Stacey Pfarr: Stacey@Bisnow.com.

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