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April 8, 2008


Big shoutout to new sponsor Goulston & Storrs! The Boston-based law firm has an expanding real estate practice in DC. Current projects: Radio One's new HQ in Shaw, Boston Properties' Square 54 and renovation of historic Howard Theatre. Welcome aboard!


We were on hand yesterday for yet another groundbreaking in NoMa:  first phase of Stonebridge Carras' 1.6m SF Constitution Square (521k pre-leased to DoJ, 340k of spec, 50k Harris Teeter, 440 apartments, etc.) to deliver in 2010. But guess what, folks? We are going to spare you another picture of people lined up with shovels, and just go straight to the story about the remarkable developers, who we haven't told you much about before.


These are its principals at the event yesterday, George Carras and Doug Firstenberg. Based in Bethesda, their 12-person firm is also busy in Maryland: They're the ones doing the famous Lot 31, ie, taking out the surface parking lots across from Barnes & Noble at Bethesda Row, and converting them to 400k SF of mixed-use (250 condos, 40k SF of retail, on top of a 1400 car garage). Currently in the design phase with architect SK&I, Stonebridge is shooting to break ground Summer '09.


And now, continuing on our fashion tour, here's what they look like in hard hats. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)  Stonebridge also acquired the second piece of an assemblage in Odenton, MD on Friday, giving them 50 acres of industrial warehouse space for redevelopment. They're working with Anne Arundel County and George says leaning toward rezoning as mixed use. George just got back from his first skiing expedition post-knee surgery; he says he hit the slopes (but not the moguls) in Deer Valley last week. [Protest from Publisher Bisnow:  How come you didn't break your leg there like I just did?]  Doug's coaching his 11-year-old son's lacrosse team and cheering on his two daughters' high school lax teams, too.      


OTO Development's Gary Goodweather and Cassidy & Pinkard's Darian LeBlanc were on hand, too.  Darian (with colleagues Zeke Dodson and Mark Sullivan) is doing leasing for the project; OTO will own and operate a 204-room Hilton Garden Inn there. OTO has 12 other hotels open or under development around here (eg, Sheraton and Hyatt Plaza at Dulles Station, Hampton Inn Suites at Fort Belvoir, Marriott Springhill Suites in Fairfax).


What else is going on in the neighborhood? Artomatic's George Koch tells us 800 local and regional artists will occupy eight floors of Capitol Plaza (the building behind him) beginning May 9 for a six-week long, free art extravaganza. The space, designed by Shalom Baranes, is owned by Polinger, Shannon & Luchs.


And after standing out in the rain, we took refuge for a piping hot latte at the newly opened Pound Coffee with shop-owner Khalil Ghannam, NoMa Bid prez Liz Price, and BID director of operations Merrit Drucker. (Wow, those are ginormous coffee mugs!) According to Liz, by summer NoMa will have over 5m SF under construction including five office buildings, 2,000 apartments, two hotels, and 160k of retail.  By the way, since groundbreaking for MRP's Washington Gateway at NY and Fla. Avenues isn't 'til Q4, the BID's hosting a James Bond Film Fest there every Thursday night starting May 8.

Goulston & Storrs
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