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February 2, 2009  

Next Bisnow Breakfast & Schmooze: CEO and Founding Chairman of the US Green Building Council, Rick Fedrizzi. BLT restaurant in DC, Thursday, Feb 12. Hot breakfast, hot topic, extra Schmooze time! Thanks to sponsors Calvert Jones and Pillsbury! Sign up.


Just how influential is our new President? Ask the owners of Ben's Chili Bowl, Bobby Van's, and Equinox how a visit boosts business. And on Friday, we learned that the election has also helped coax leases from new retailers.


Madison Retail Group's Mike Pratt and Eric Rubin (the bookends above) brokered with landlord Douglas Development leases for Forever 21 (Woodies Bldg, 27K SF) and Guess (1155 F St, 5K). Mike says both tenants were on the fence, but the Obama win ("at some point his girls are going to visit these stores") enhanced their confidence to sign, and they'll open this fall. Madison's Chris Harlepp, Jennifer Price, and Jim Farrell, also above, told us opportunity knocks  as well in '09 for those who appeal to "Recessionistas" and "Frugalistas."

Lerner Enterprises

Must be a weejee board, because they tell us the future brings more vertically integrated global retailers like H&M and Zara. Eric says the interest in DC as a retail and tourist spot resembles growth in London, Lisbon, and Prague. Jim says the 'burbs piggyback on the success: In Waldorf, MD, he signed a major anchor retailer making its first appearance in that submarket. A month ago, the store had 19 East Coast deals on the table. When market forces cut that to two, they kept DC. Chris says that for the first time in a long while, tenants will get rent discounts in the outer 'burbs as much as 20%.



The godfather of restaurant brokerage (or at least the zany uncle) Tom Papadopoulos, of Papadopoulos Properties, says despite dire economic chatter, most restaurants saw stable or higher volume in '08. And while this year won't bring any new national chains inside the Beltway, the success of unique neighborhood spots like Posto (Logan Circle) and Matchbox (Capitol Hill) will spur similar offerings. Witness Cava expanding from Rockville to Capitol Hill and Thaitanic opening soon in Columbia Heights. In his own portfolio, Tom's just been hired by Vornado to lease 2101 L St (formerly Galileo), and by Eastbanc to lease 22 West (21st and M).


Tom tells us DC retail vacancies are few and far between. If anything, things are picking up with a new administration. Not necessarily because of Obama policies, but because "It's great for the restaurant business to have a President who'll go out a lot." The anticipation that the Prez might show up at any moment generates excitement from business people and tourists alike. (We keep an eye on our front door on Connecticut Avenue every time we hear a motorcade. We are sure he wants to sign our wall.)


We snapped this Thursday at a healthcare forum at the DC Ritz, a pioneering academic discussion between builders and hospital execs on "evidence-based design." Perkins + Will's Robin Guenther, right, with colleague Tama Duffy Day and Georgetown health systems professor Gary Filerman, presented evidence linking physical design with personal health. Example: Proper design in lighting, layout, or view, can easily reduce falls, stress, infections, or sleep problems. When you consider that nurses lift 1.8 tons per shift, you realize how much ceiling mounted lifts can avoid injury. Oh, and one more thing to consider: There's $250 billion in healthcare construction expected over the next decade. 


Revere Bank chairman Chris Hayes and CEO Drew Flott and fellow board members Geoff Hunt (Hunt Reporting) and Robb Cecil (McGowan, Cecil & Smather) recently celebrated their first anniversary in Montgomery County with the mission of being local bankers making local decisions for small to mid-market businesses. In the center, our fine sponsor, Strelmark founder Hilary Fordwich, who was invited to address the bank's first combined board meeting, and we can see added her usual sartorial and (we assume) rhetorical splendor.

Reznick Group
Lerner Enterprises
Cardinal Bank
Forrester Construction
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