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The Importance of Union Station
February 12, 2013
Manhattan LTile2

The Importance of
Union Station

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Akridge's development over Union Station, Burnham Place, is not only going to provide lots more mixed-use space for Washington's future, but it turns out it's "critical" to Amtrak itself.

This morning, Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman said as much at the US High Speed Rail Summit. Afterwards, he told us projects like Burnham Place (the proposed 3M SF mixed-use effort to be built directly over the Union Station tracks) will serve as a substantial stream of revenue for Amtrak, just like the expansion of the station's retail portion did years ago. (That retail expansion also inspires us to get a shave before every train trip.) Union Station's now-bustling retail areas sat empty for years as rider space. A coup for Burnham Place is that the development will likely have the financial backing of the private sector (though financing hasn't been secured just yet).
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A rendering of the Shalom Baranes-designed project. Joe tells us Burnham Station joins a list of similar developments Amtrak has at rail hubs throughout the Northeast, like Moynihan Station under construction in NYC, as well as a potential project at Baltimore's Penn Station.
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We also snapped retiring US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, who urged that the federal government must make an investment in high speed rail. "There's no turning back" when it comes to developing high speed rail, as he believes it's the next generation of passenger transportation in the US.

Rock Creek's New Buy

Rock Creek Property Group has another DC acquisition. In late January, the firm purchased 808-810 5th St NW in Chinatown for $5.9M. Rock Creek's Jared Okun (left, with firm principal Gary Schlager) tells us the company eyes multifamily redevelopment (to the tune of 50-plus units) for the site that sits just two blocks from the Chinatown Metro and Verizon Center. Jared adds that Rock Creek hopes to build a first-class apartment or condo property, though university or corporate housing remain options.

Rock Creek bought the property through its opportunity fund from Gospel Rescue Ministries, which will lease the space for a short period before consolidating operations at its other centers, Jared says. It's a unique investment opportunity in Chinatown, he adds, since the neighborhood is mostly built out and chances for redevelopment don't come often. 808-810 5th St. joins other well-located Rock Creek redevelopments like 1100 16th St NW and 1438 U St—"tweener" properties, as Jared calls them, for which they specialize in finding new uses. CBRE's Marc Rampulla repped the seller in the deal, an auction sale.

Scheer Promotes Brady

Congrats to Scheer Partners' Matt Brady, now an SVP. The life science and biotech expert, tells us 2013 should be another strong year in that sector, especially in Montgomery County. He's been with the firm for over a decade and has completed more than 1M SF of deals totaling $100M. Here's Matt (second from right) snapped this afternoon with colleagues Kevin Rosenberg, Omar McKeithan, Nate Crowe, and Aaron Gambini.

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Continental Title Group's Website 2.0

Continental Title Group biz dev VP Liz Jones takes the cliche out of the usual title company website. CTG's redesign foregoes the typical skylines and McMansions. Instead, we see a humble ant, symbolizing strength (it can lift hundreds of times its own weight). What CTG is actually selling is legal strength in real estate transactions. It's a lawyer-driven firm with hands-on attorneys who are involved in the title process from start to finish. The site also has a user-friendly closing cost calculator, providing accurate costs and fees that eliminate settlement-table surprises. Liz says she wants the site to be a virtual information foundation, with custom videos, podcasts and blogs that feature the knowledge of CTG lawyers and other title experts. Issues discussed will include law changes and title problems and solutions to keep you current on the complexities and opportunities of strong title. Take a look at our sponsor's new website here.

Mardi Gras with Bisnow

Never one to overlook a holiday, Bisnow made sure to have our own Mardi Gras celebration today, complete with more beads than we know what to do with and some King Cake. Snapped this morning at our Dupont HQ: Bisnow's Kim Goldman, Marie Finnegan, Kat Wojcik, Travis Holler, Michael Weiss, Karly Mintz, Laura Bellantoni, Channing Muller, and Liz Keevil.

We got in the mood because native New Orleanian Channing (along with Marie) just got back from the Big Easy, and snapped this pic Saturday night of the Krewe of Endymion, the largest of Mardi Gras with 2,650 masked members, as they paraded through mid-city.

On today's playlist: Limelight by Rush. E-mail chris.baird@bisnow.com

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