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September 18, 2008

Big shout-out to sponsor AGC of DC. The 8th Annual Washington Contractor Awards are approaching. Oct. 7th at the Newseum. Check out all the great sponsors in ad to right. More info.


Is it that misery loves company—a desire for human interaction in times of anxiety? Or just the obvious, that 12 of the region’s top experts on the commercial real estate scene gathered to assess the latest crisis? Whatever the case, 450 readers poured into the National Press Club this morning for equal parts Beltway blues and bagels at our Fall Market Conference & Schmoozarama. Any solace? As Opus East’s Jim Lee said, things may be bad, but as far as we know it’s just the latest cycle and not like a giant meteor is hurtling toward Earth.


Vornado/Charles E. Smith president Mitchell Schear, microphone in hand, sat in the middle of the crowd moderating the first panel. For fun (maybe not the right word in these times), it was the the pre-eminent developer who questioned the broker panel; and for the second panel we turned the tables and legendary Staubach/JLL broker Rob Copito questioned the developers. Thanks as always to great sponsors for helping us put the event on:  accounting firm Reznick Group, law firm Holland + Knight, Group Goetz Architects, and RBS Citizens Bank.    

Monday Properties

Panel #1, broker superstars: Studley’s Tom Fulcher, JLL’s Dave Bevirt, Cushman’s Audrey Cramer, CBRE’s Art Santry, and Cassidy’s Spencer Stouffer. Audrey says it’s been business as usual the last three days despite the financial meltdown, since there are still many tenants with expiring leases or real space needs; in the top areas, she notes space is still constrained and tenants shouldn’t be wondering why they can’t drive a killer bargain. Tom says if you’re looking for 100s of thousands of SF, you still need to start 5 years ahead, but if you just need 10k you can wait ‘til the last minute. Dave says he’s never seen such an imbalance of supply: seven million SF needing to be absorbed whereas one or one-and-a-half is normal; he thinks people now see 2011, not 2010, as the year of recovery. Art says simply: If you have a chance to do a deal as a landlord, you ought to do it.

Crystal City

Panel #2, superstar developers: LCOR’s Bill Hard, Bozzuto’s Tom Bozzuto, Boston Properties’ Peter Johnston, Opus East’s Jim Lee and Monday Properties’ Tim Helmig. Tom said, “The key to credit is credibility and there is none. None in anything associated with real estate.” Some said it doesn’t compare with 1991, that featured “toxic real estate,” whereas today it’s more financial and accounting issues. But Peter said it’s much harder than when the RTC could identify specific problems; unraveling the problems today, he said, is like trying to take a single piece of thread out of the huge rug on the National Press Club floor from one end to the other.


Group Goetz Architects’ Lewis Goetz, Holland & Knight real estate chair Janis Schiff and Washington managing partner Paul Kiernan. Janis is missing her freshman son at Tulane, who comes back to visit only when there’s a tropical depression. Lewis just returned from a vacation in Zihuatanejo, Mexico where he passed on the cliff diving for SCUBA diving. Paul just got back from a Bahamas vacation with some high school buddies. Does anyone work anymore?


Steve Cohen of Opus East, Jim Farrell of Madison Retail Group, and Holland + Knight legal legends Chip Glasgow, David Silver and Chad Tiedemann.


Schear and Copito: These guys are rich enough to have retired long ago, and based on their masterful moderating should take it easy and come work for us.


PCM Construction’s Keith Good and Jones Lang LaSalle’s Paul Michael Taylor. Paul says 1801 K St., a 500k SF property to deliver in December, will be a “home run.” Keith tells us he will be visiting colleges with his 17-year-old twin son and daughter. St. Mary’s, the University of Maryland and William & Mary are on the short list.


Angie Dickinson of M&T Bank (always been a fan of her movies), Natalie Abutaha of AtSite Real Estate and Kane Construction’s Lise Benedict and Dennis Kane. Lise says corporate responsibility and the Y Generation intersecting are demanding LEED built properties. “People are jumping ahead” of government requirements to produce them. Angie can appreciate green of the non-building variety; she just returned from an 11-day cross country road trip with her boyfriend that took her through Napa Valley, Jackson Hole, Mount Rushmore, and seems to have ended at our conference.


Monday Properties
Arnold & Porter
GVA Advantis
Reznick Group
Total Engineering
Reston Limo
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