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January 27, 2009  
 
       
 
 
RETAIL BRIGHT
SPOTS

Big shoutout to new sponsor The Meltzer Group, the great full-service financial and insurance firm (we use them ourselves), whose employee giving fund just donated $41k to 19 non-profits in the Baltimore Washington region. A big community thanks to TMG!


 

Sure we've heard the woes of Circuit City, Linens N Things, and even Starbucks, but that's not the whole story, at least around here.

 

We sat down with retail guru Peter Framson—well, it was a little crowded, having to share space with his idol John Wayne—to get a download. Peter founded Bethesda-based Green Light Retail, a brokerage and development firm, in 2000, after years at Carey Winston and KLNB representing the likes of AMC Theatres and Sears. He acknowledges that many retailers are ready to jump out the window. But he currently represents a number, he says, who are hot to trot: Forman Mills discount ready-to-wear apparel is looking for multiple 50,000 foot stores in the region; Sonic Drive Through Burgers is looking for pad sites, and Party City and Off Broadway shoes want locations, too. 

 
UMD
 

His advice: Regionals here should take advantage of the market to expand, which is more difficult in boom periods. Don't put out a "suffering" message; create brand and customer loyalty that will continue into better times. And "don't let the green eye shade people make decisions for you": You may have a hard time regaining traction. The most successful retailers are nimble and ready to adjust to changing consumer demand; retailers should give maximum autonomy to their regional managers.

 
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THE UPSIDE OF DISTRESS?
 

Investors have become giddy about taking advantage of distressed assets in the credit crunch, Real Capital Analytics research guru Dan Fasulo told us when we visited his Fifth Avenue office recently. Funds began asking RCA about these, so its analyst team started tracking and flagging properties globally last fall for a new product offering. It discovered that distress is not only on the property level, but on the ownership level, so it split the assets in two buckets: troubled, when the owner or building has defaulted, or is in danger; and potentially troubled, when the owner has immediate refi debt and may not meet obligations or a building may lose a major tenant.

 

Dan with his fellow analysts. He tells us that while there are $3.5 billion in distressed assets in NYC, there are only $300 M in the DC metro area. (You can thank tenant/owner U.S. government, Dan says.) They range from Record Realty's office portfolio from the Government Properties Trust takeover; former Boscov department stores; and many General Growth Properties assets that may become available. About 150 assets are tagged as potentially troubled, mostly in NoVa, where prices rose rapidly in '06 and '07, and have since fallen significantly. The D.C. metro will also see more apartment buildings tagged, Dan says.


THE OTHER GLOSSERMAN
 

Recognize the name? Yep, JBG chief Mike Glosserman's son, Marc, whose great BBQ restaurant called Hill Country we tried out in NYC the other day at 30 West 26th. It was mobbed, and as you can see is big and doesn't hide its Lone Star inspiration (that's where the Glossermans come from). Pork Chop Bone In, Brisket Lean, Ancho Chile Cherry Brownies...make a beeline!


ALAN'S ALTRUISM
 
 

Alan Meltzer the other day in his Rockville office. As we began to tell you in the shoutout above, his employee giving fund made individual gifts ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 to organizations focused on aiding at-risk youth. It's now embarking on its fifth year of giving, all funds coming from employee donations; "Of all the things we do," Alan says, "I am most proud of the way we give back."

 
 
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