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October 6, 2008

Biggest party of the season—and it's free: Bisnow's Democrats v. Republicans Hip Happy Hour. 1,500 people from all Washington industries. The great Park at Fourteenth. Oct 15, 6-8 PM, stay and watch the debate. No charge, but you must sign up!


Yep, our headline is man-bites-dog news these tumultuous days, but happily it's true. At the very same time as the House was passing the bailout bill late last week, and local real estate investors were wondering if they would ever see credit extended again in their lifetime, the sale of a downtown building closed and got fully funded. Big congrats to CRESA, Woodmark, and Arent Fox.


CRESA's Paul Ehrenreich had a lot to celebrate Friday: both the sale of 2021 to the American Society of Hematology ("ASH"), which he's represented 10 years; and getting the title for the Smart Car he won at the Monday Properties' raffle we reported on a couple weeks ago. Frankly, we thought we had the scoop on the news here, but it looks like Paul's making the grand announcement in the parking lot of CRESA's Bethesda office.

We took this picture an hour ago of the 78k SF building that ASH will use as its new headquarters and move into in the fall. It was owned by a group of private investors (including several Woodmark principals and led by general partner Potomac Development) that bought it in June '07 from the NFL Players Association, then stripped it down to a shell and added two floors. Woodmark was marketing it as office condos when Paul approached them a year ago about buying the whole thing. ASH will build out the interior with architect RTKL and a contractor not yet selected.
Condo Authority

We took this Friday of Arent Fox's Richard Newman and Keith Schwartz, whom Paul showers with praise for not just handling the legal side of the transaction but actually structuring the financing, including a bridge loan to acquire the building, then bond financing for the long term. Richard, a top specialist in tax exempt bonds, says SunTrust funded the bridge loan, and that the permanent loan will use half tax exempt DC revenue bonds and half conventional loan, also provided by Suntrust. The financing required an "inter-creditor" agreement (ie, when multiple creditors fund a single asset). Paul says the transaction shows, "There's still money out there for a good credit purchaser." Whoosh.


We were on hand Thursday for the seventh annual DC Economic Partnership showcase at the Convention Center, which featured these cranes as table centerpieces to symbolize the $76.3B in completed, under-construction and in-the-pipeline projects DC has enjoyed since 2001. Burt, Hill's Patrick Saavedra and Joanne Shelly demonstrate that architects are better at designing things than taking them apart (this photo is several minutes into their attempt to deconstruct the toy crane to carry it home—clearly a symbol of the strength of DC's construction industry). Joanne tells us the firm (1200 strong around the world, 71 based in Georgetown) is doing the redesign for Towson University's entry feature and main plaza, and Patrick says design and construction just wrapped for 308-unit mixed-use apartment rentals developed by Clark Realty at Fort Totten Station.


City Interests' Todd Lieberman and Christopher LoPiano show renderings of their firm's focus on Ward 7. Todd holds a view of the townhouses at "Parkside" on the Anacostia River, the first phase (together with a 98-unit senior building) of a 3M SF mixed-use re-development plan that just got Stage 2 zoning approval Wednesday. It's a LEED Neighborhood Development pilot project going for Gold which hopes over the next 5-7 years to create 750k SF of office space, 50k SF of retail, and 2000 residential units over 15.5 acres adjacent to the Minnesota Ave. Metro. Chris says the "East River Park Shopping Center" (behind his head) is a mixed-use re-development that will be 200k SF of retail with 400-700 residential units to break ground in 2011. Meanwhile, we're told Ray's the Steak's maestro Michael Landrum will be opening a "Raise the Heat" in the shopping center in March.


Architecture, Inc's Katherine Drews tells us they recently finished renovations to Donovan House Hotel (which is now ranked as having one of the top 10 urban pools in the US) and are working on Donovan House Restaurant, which will be operated by famed chef Todd English. WFT's Melissa Allen says they recently started the design for a 300k SF laboratory and mixed use building at Johns Hopkins and were also awarded several Maryland DGS projects. On the personal front, Melissa's preparing to run a 5K for the Arthritis Foundation in December in honor of her father who has a rare form of arthritis.  


They closed off Norfolk Avenue for several blocks Saturday for the annual "Taste of Bethesda," where we ran into energizer bunny Adam Schindler of Studley. He'd already run six miles on the Crescent Trail, then done an "hour or two" at his beloved Fitness First on Wisconsin. On Sunday he was doing a spinning class there, then biking into the office to "work on a retail requirement," taking a path through Georgetown, DuPont and Gallery Place to check out locations for the client. He reports he was listening to hip hop on the 'Pod, which sounds appropriate.


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