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January 28, 2009  

A big salute to great sponsor Cardinal Bank, which announced this week that it's named John Toups, famed techie and philanthropist, as honorary chairman of the bank's 7th annual Charity Classic golf and tennis fundraiser, May 18. More on this great event below!


Yesterday, like schoolkids, we huddled around the radio hoping for a cancellation. Not just of school, but maybe of 2009 altogether. But that was before we went to National Harbor to hear a market forecast presented by the Institute of Real Estate Management.


Yes, we heard about the downward spiral of volume in DC—$3.4B last year vs. $6.4B in '07 and $10.2B in '05. But Cassidy's Spencer Stouffer, Kettler's Cindy Clare, and George Mason economist Steve Fuller, above, gave us some glimmers of hope. Spencer singled out three govt agencies for '09 growth: Transportation in SE/Ballpark, State in Rosslyn and West End, and Education in SW and DC's CBD. And though he's guessing volume of $2B this year with many large transactions oh-so-close-but-on-hold, he notes a silver lining: the moment things pick up, deals will move fast.


In residential, Cindy says renters are not yet doubling up, instead choosing smaller units and leaving larger ones vacant. She says the Ballpark area, though weak against DC, is better matched vs. Arlington, which, due to Fairfax County's strength, she thinks could be back at full tilt by early 2010. Her advice to residential landlords: Hold fast on credit standards. If you compromise to increase occupancy, the result is higher delinquency, which costs more than just having vacant units.


We found quite a green team when we cornered Cushman's Debbie Santano, local IREM prez Bill Lehan, and Foulger-Pratt's Bonnie Morrison. Bill just passed his LEED AP exam. For those cramming, he warns: "Being an engineer doesn't help." Bonnie says Foulger-Pratt has added wind energy to all the properties they manage, and Debbie says Cushman has signed an MOU with the EPA to help the agency develop green best practices.

National Harbor Grows Up

After the forecast, Peterson Companies' Chris Borgal (second from right) played tour guide around the stunning, and open for business, National Harbor. We walked down "American Way" the retail thoroughfare modeled after Barcelona's famous Las Ramblas. (Of course, instead of leading to the Mediterranean, it leads to the Potomac. Which might look like the Mediterranean if it were 50 degrees warmer.)


We even got a peek at the security command center, monitoring all 300 acres, 24 hours a day. As part of its development agreement, Peterson offered space in the center to Prince George's police and fire departments. Here's the National Harbor tale-of-the-tape, when finished: 7.5M SF, 250K SF retail, about 400 condos, 3000 hotel rooms, 60 marina slips (boats are 40 ft minimum), ferry service to Old Town, and 9000 parking spots. And, just in case the upcoming stimulus bill does the trick, the waterfront condos start at $1.4M.

Cardinal Classic
Further to our shoutout above, the Cardinal charity event benefits the Inova Kellar Center and the Cardinal Bank Community Fund, quite appropriate because John Toups is a former chair of both the Inova Health System board and foundation. It'll be May 18 at the serene Country Club of Fairfax. Former CEO (in the 70s and 80s) of then tech giant PRC, he's also been over the years a director of GTSI, Halifax, NVR, and Dewberry, plus chair of the George Mason University Foundation. Cardinal president Kevin Reynolds tells us the Classic has raised more than $1.5 M since 2002, greatly exceeding goals. We are proud to have participated in recent years in the event, fielding our very finest tennis talent (which is generally a condition of employment at Bisnow).
Reznick Group
Cardinal Bank
Arent Fox
Silver Companies
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