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February 7, 2008

Our friends at Cassidy & Pinkard have been awarded exclusive marketing and leasing for 1101 K, a 310k SF trophy (and home of Brasserie Beck) developed by The JBG Companies. Congrats!


Does the Freedom Forum look brilliant or what?  They bought a site at 6th and Penn eight years ago for $100 million. Has the value doubled or tripled since then?  Doesn't matter, they're not moving. This morning they're announcing that April 11 will be the date they officially open the Newseum there.  Already the 135 residential rentals on top opened in June, Wolfgang Puck's Source restaurant opened in September, and their conference facility starting hosting events in November.  We went over to see museum head Charles Overby last week, who's been settling in 200 employees.


This is Charles with Deputy Director Susan Bennett, who besides being an ace marketeer is the one who coined the name of the restaurant-originally a takeoff on the idea of journalistic "sources." How can you get any work done staring out the window at the National Gallery?  But they're hard at work arranging the 250 SF of exhibits, three times that of their last venue in Rosslyn, yet only 5% of what they own; the rest is in a warehouse in Laurel.  Ralph Applebaum designed the interior, James Polshek the base building, Tishman Speyer is project manager, Turner constructed, and Bozzuto manages the apartments. Charles and Susan worked at Gannett, and he's been director 19 years, but this beats everything.  "Only once a century do you get to build a landmark on Pennsylvania Avenue," he says.

Builders' Ball

The Newseum's mission is to remind people of the importance being able to get uncensored news.  They don't take sides in the digital debate, but Charles knows hard copy's days are numbered:  His own 27 year old son doesn't get a paper delivered anymore and just reads the Economist online.


Charles found the space in 2000 with the help of Studley's Lois Zambo. They identified 12 sites, such as the old Woodies building and 101 Constitution.  At one point he called Lois and said he wanted to move into the latter and take half its space.  She said, 'No you don't, you need to have your own building you can customize."  She found him the old DC Department of Employment Security.  It was so ugly, he says, even the preservationists wanted it torn down.


We also stopped by to see Scott Drewno, the executive chef of Sources, formerly from Puck's Chinois in Santa Monica and Spago in Vegas. Since the Forum owns the restaurant, too, Charles had the fun of negotiating with Puck over lunches at Spago in Beverly Hills.  He got wind that Puck was thinking of an Asian restaurant and said, "Don't do it-Washingtonians want steaks and won't be able to pronounce your menu items." Charles thought he'd won the battle until the restaurant was complete and he sat down to try it out.  They put chopsticks in front of him. It's Asian fusion.

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