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November 19, 2008

Bisnow Breakfast & Schmooze: Latest Market Trends, with gurus Marc DeLuca (ING), Hayden Jones (Carlyle Group), and Bruce Lane (Meridian Group). This Thursday, Nov. 20. Thanks to great sponsors Katten Muchin Rosenman, Group Goetz Architects, and Forrester Construction. Sign up here!


First, hats off to developer Albert Small, not this time for a lifetime of great real estate projects (most recently: 1000 Connecticut Ave), but for his flowering philanthropy. We were on hand last night for the gala re-opening of the Smithsonian's American History Museum, a centerpiece of which is a gallery he's funded for historic documents, currently showcasing (on loan from the White House) an original copy of the Gettysburg Address written in Lincoln's own hand.


Albert, center right, is joined last night by fellow developer and longtime neighbor Dick Dubin (center left), and book-ended by American Heritage magazine managing editor John Ross and owner Ed Grosvenor. Albert has a renowned collection of documents and maps, and (just to give you another idea of the things he's done) built a library four years ago at the University of Virginia to hold the largest collection of original materials related to the Declaration of Independence


Also on hand to laud Albert's contribution (and the museum's re-opening): new Secretary of the Smithsonian Wayne Clough (who stepped down this summer as president of Georgia Tech); Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne with wife Patricia; and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough (Truman; John Adams) and wife Rosalee, who tell us they came down specially from West Tisbury for the occasion.



Yesterday afternoon we were at Commercial Property News' update at the American Institute of Architects. GSA's Commissioner of Public Buildings Dave Winstead, who oversees 350M SF of federal buildings (half owned, half leased), said the National Capital Region is looking at 10M SF in lease expirations through '09, double normal. He also said DHS is moving forward actively on the St. E's site, with Secretary Chertoff even paying a recent surprise visit. Afterward, when we asked him how the recession is affecting GSA, he cited lower bid prices and escalator clauses from contractors (especially in Southern States previously pushed higher by Katrina). On the other hand, he said fewer spec office buildings means that the normal 9% below market the Feds get from their buying power might be tightened by this constrained supply, but that it will still remain well below market.  


When we asked GSA Assistant Regional Administrator for public buildings Bart Bush how much new space TARP is requiring, he told us the only official request so far has been for 100 to 200 more jobs, ie, 20k to 40k SF based on an average of 200 feet per employee needed. But he said they're in daily contact with the Treasury and that is obviously evolving. He reminded us that need for space exceeding $2.6M in cost requires a prospectus to be submitted to relevant Congressional committees, so needs will become known. (By the way, we loved the comment of moderator Bob Peck of JLL that his first couple months as a predecessor of Winstead, he reassured brokers "you shouldn't have to re-learn real estate" to deal with the Feds, but that after a while, he realized he was wrong.)


Transwestern's David Popp, AEW Capital Management's Wistar Wood, CBRE's Bill Prutting, and Transwestern's Gerry Trainor.  Boston-based Wistar is the acquisitions officer responsible for new investments in DC and NY for the pension fund adviser that has about $22B in gross property value of US assets, among which are all four buildings of Towers Crescent; 799 9th St. in DC; and recently acquired 4520 East West Highway in Bethesda. Wistar tells us AEW's newest $1.2B Core Fund, raised in late '07, is looking for highest quality assets of all property types (from office to warehouses) in the best submarkets of DC metro. With the difficulties of finding debt these days, Wistar says its four deals closed in '08 were either all cash or assumed below market debt. The Fund can do an average of 30% deal leverage and also has investor permission to originate senior loans (which, with cap rates as they are, sometimes yield more return with less risk).

Reznick Group
Cardinal Bank
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