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August 22, 2008

Announcing Bisnow's Fall Happy Hour co-hosted by the Capitol Riverfront BID and JPI. Come check out the views of the Capitol and the ballpark, have a drink, and network on the rooftop of the just-opened Jefferson at Capitol Yards luxury apartments. Tues., Sept 16, 6-8pm. One-block from the Navy Yard metro (Half St & I St SE), free parking. This event is free, but you must sign up.


Or is it 4.0, we can't keep track. But just when we'd pegged him as a high-flying developer, Jeff Neal has re-invented himself as a kingpin broker and is moving swiftly to remake GVA Advantis, a 105 agent, 16 office firm focused on the Southeast US that he led an investment team in buying last May. He retains an ownership interest in his former firm Monument, but left there June 3 and has since been busy strategizing and recruiting as GVA's full-time chairman, moving its HQ here and aiming to double its size in two years.


What is this, the board of British Petroleum? Nope, that fun-loving Jeff Neal grin gives it away: It's four of the new crew we met up with yesterday at their temporary corporate suite on 16th St. Behind Jeff at the table is CEO Rich Pogue, who last lived in DC as head of the local Coldwell Banker commercial office in the mid-90s, then became chairman of CB's Canadian operations and later its Dallas office; old Neal friend Paul Adkins, in wealth management at FBR and newly appointed to the GVA board; and Joe Wallace, Neal's onetime UVa classmate who succeeded Pogue in Dallas and recommended him to Jeff. Also on the new executive team, but not shown: COO Bob Brum; principals Tim Hague, Scott Nelson, and Paul Thomann; marketing VP Jim Roberts; and special projects queen Megan Johnson. Hopefully some of them were out actually drumming up business, not just posing for pics like these guys.

Jones Lang LaSalle

Jeff's in such a rush to build his team, he says he just hired a guy Wednesday night at the bar of the Georgetown Morton's—after a ten minute conversation.  (Okay, he did know of him before and had invited him to meet—this wasn't a pick up, folks.) He even offered him a signing bonus to be able to make a trip to see a family member in Japan. Rich and Jeff hope to recruit some disenchanted with big, consolidating firms, or figuring they'll have a higher upside with a partnership than public company. They also think they have a hidden gem in a construction adjunct that does $60-$70M of work outside Washington. They're looking to beef up tenant rep, retail, and especially investment sales. They know they can't go head-to-head with the Jones Langs on the biggest accounts, so they're focusing on mid-cap clients. As for new brokers, they're talking with one team at a big company that does under a million in fees, and a whole firm that does $10 million.


The New Neal is just a man of the people, as you can see, getting his own paper cup of coffee. These three started at Carr together in the 80s. Joe's now at Preferred Offices, working for Ollie Carr again, and of course that's the provider they chose for a temporary suite. Jeff sees his task as a turnaround and says he's traveling two to three days a week, though he'll take his two sons camping this weekend to the Shenandoah River. (We suspect Jeff sleeps in his Aston Martin.) Meanwhile, Rich has found a place in Old Town, three doors down from where he lived 10 years ago, but has now discovered Eve Restaurant. Besides offices in Florida, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, and DC, they plan to add more soon in Mississippi and Alabama. (Jeff's from Tennessee originally, so he can understand at least one of every three words spoken down there.)   

Ben's Chili Bowl Turns 50!

We were on hand last night at Ben's Chili Bowl (1213 U St.) and the adjacent Lincoln Theatre to congratulate Ben and Virginia Ali, who started Ben's in August 1958, here with their son Nizam. Congrats to Group Goetz Architects and PCM Construction for the new expansion of Ben's to include a spiffy new sports bar.


When we were in NY earlier this week, we snapped this of DC-based design principal Anik Jhaveri in the Greenwich Village office of Mancini Duffy. He's got a background doing labs for clients like USDA and DHS, and was up there talking to prospects in higher ed. He also just got back from Barcelona, where he was looking at new European trends in auditoriums, like seating that, with the push of a button, collapses into the floor or wall. (Presumably not when people are sitting in it.)



Global traveler Tom Fulcher at Peruvian wonder of the world Machu Picchu earlier this month with wife Jill, and sons Tyler (13) and Adam (10). The co-head of Studley's DC office was in search of lost Incas needing tenant rep.


Bruce Baschuk (third from left) last week with family in the Kalahari desert. They saw game in six different locations in South Africa and Botswana and did some scuba diving in Zanzibar. Bruce, have you thought about developing safari condos?


Back in more mundane areas, Bruce visited our office this week and tried his luck against reigning champion Elliott Bisnow. We are impressed that on this shot the ball is going over the net.

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