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November 27, 2007


Sponsor Update: Buch Construction continues to grow quickly.  New projects include working with Trammell Crow on the 180k SF LEED certified Milestone office complex in Germantown.

Drum roll!  Next week, Meridian Group breaks ground on its mammoth 445k SF spec office at National Gateway at Potomac Yard, 12 stories on the site of the former rail yards south of Crystal City.  It'll be the second office building in the whole 300 acre site, of which Meridian bought 15 acres three years ago.  With its 70k SF retail added to another 225k existing or planned around an area called Center Park, Meridian hopes to create a whole new work/play village sandwiched between Route 1 and GW Parkway.

We snapped this yesterday of Meridian Group President David Cheek and EVP Bruce Lane in their Bethesda office.  They like to fly under the radar, but you know their buildings, like the one they work in and own:  They bought the 750k SF Bethesda Metro Center with Blackstone back in ’99, that includes a 17-story office building and 390-room Hyatt.  In just the past 12 months they’ve done $615M of sales, recaps, and financings; and since the company’s founding in ‘93, their bigger is better strategy has helped them acquire over $2.1B (6.5M SF) in property. 

We wouldn’t know where we are without a map, so Meridian managing director Tim Eden gave us the guided tour. Through Jones Lang’s Herb Mancini and Bob Veshancy, the firm has already signed L.A. Fitness for 46,000 SF and a Wachovia branch for 3,400. Of the original 15 acres they bought, zoned for 2.9M SF of mixed use, they sold off 2/3 for a substantial profit to Archstone-Smith (for 691 apartments) and Marriott (for a Residence Inn and Renaissance).

Doesn’t National Gateway look like a locomotive coming down the track?  And they’ve got other large projects chugging along in Virginia and Maryland. There’s the 7M SF, 362-acre One Loudoun project in Ashburn. The first phase of that joint venture with Miller and Smith is expected to come on line in 2010 and includes 222k SF of office (plus retail and apartments to be developed by Cousins and Post Properties on sites Meridian is selling them). In Rockville off I-270, they plan two new buildings totaling 210k SF at Shady Grove Executive Center, slated to start Q1 ’08.

So what do they do when they’re not working?  Bruce has taken up a cause close to his heart – peace in the Middle East.  Earlier this month, he and wife Leslie traveled to Israel where they met both the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers.  Above, on the way back, they're in front of the library in Ephesus in Western Turkey. As for David, he may venture out west for a family ski trip to Snowmass.  And Tim’s busy running around Chevy Chase with his 10 and 12 year old boys coaching lacrosse and driving to hockey practices. Hey, someday you could do that in Potomac Yard without the driving.

Madison Retail Group
Arent Fox
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