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April 24, 2008
The Bisnow

The most influential people
in Washington commercial real estate

Bisnow will also be naming the 35 Under 35 Rising Stars of Commercial Real Estate. Submit your nominations! (Pls. provide name, firm, age, and accomplishments of last 12 months.)


1.  Ted, Mark, Ed & Bob. The Lerners were big and important long before, but always behind the scenes; now they're leading the parade. No, they didn't build new malls, but instead funded a real live ball club and delivered a (literally) major league stadium exactly when promised. It's not just that this will create a new epicenter of DC life in an area that was no-man's land only a couple years ago. More profoundly, it can change the nation's view of this region; the region's view of the city; and the city's view of itself, all of which can have towering impact on real estate. And if the team actually wins games, it will produce more bipartisanship in town than any presidential candidate can.


2.  Milt and Jon Peterson, the Peterson Companies. We know the jury's still out, but after decades of failed efforts by others, and people calling them crazy, the Petersons stepped up and really did create a shining city on a hill. They've brought in a ton of restaurants, defied condo sales trends, and pre-sold staggering amounts of hotel nights to conventioneers. More than a dramatic transformation of Prince George's County, they're bringing the Potomac River alive and creating a whole new model for long-term regional growth, both in Washington and across the country.


3.  Ray Ritchey, Boston Properties.  Numero Uno on everyone's dance card, Ray's still got the field's strongest personal brand, is still the one who hears about stuff others don't, is still the prudent leader who has BP sitting pretty on leased-up, high quality, low leverage buildings from South of Market and Wisconsin Place to projects big and small in DC. And poised to make Square 54 the best location in town. He's Citronelle and Chez Francois rolled into one: the critics' and people's choice.


4.  Mitchell Schear, Charles E. Smith/Vornado.  Running an old-line company now powered by New York money, he's got the biggest portfolio in the region: 25M SF, plus 12M in the pipeline. He had the flair to rent out the Corcoran to market 1999 K and eventually snag Mayer Brown, joint venture with PNC on 17th and with Forest City on Waterfront Station, and redevelop the Galileo building, the Gould site in Rossyln, and many others; in a tough market, he's upgrading tenants. His reputation rests on repositioning Crystal City, and he's lured top area acronyms like BNA, PBS, and CEA; if he hauls a big law firm across the river, he'll become a living legend.

5.  Ben Jacobs, Mike Glosserman JBG.  The firm that's been minting money for investors since the 60's seems as ubiquitous as ever, recapitalizing assets with miraculous timing in a new $2.5 billion JBG Urban portfolio, selling Waterview for a record suburban price, and advancing on new trophies in Rosslyn and Ballston, and marquee hotels from the Bethesda North Marriott to the Marriott Wardman Park. Yes, they're a merchant builder that needs to keep building and selling, but that also makes them cash-savvy entrepreneurs adept at recycling capital on multi-product platforms. All start-up developers tell us, "One day we want to be like JBG."


6.  Adrian Fenty, DC Mayor, and Neil Albert, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development.  The guy who supposedly wouldn't know his way around compared to veteran Linda Cropp has indefatigably found his way to every single groundbreaking and ribbon cutting, way more of a cheerleader for development than even Tony Williams. And he's cloned himself an equally energetic Number Two. Only question is whether with Poplar Point, the Waterfront, Georgia Avenue, and a hundred others, they're spreading themselves too thin. So here's to execution, too!


7.  Jim Clark, Larry Nussdorf, Clark Enterprises/Construction. These guys' hardhats are not only everywhere like the ballpark, Gaylord, Inter County Connector, and their own Capitol View, but so are their investment tentacles that many don't see-like as silent partners with Shooshan and Jacobs. Sure, Pete Forrester and Dan Montgomery run a huge construction machine for when you absolutely, positively need the biggest projects done on time, but they've also got Clark Realty doing visions for Poplar Point, and Larry and Becky Owen are hyperactive dealmakers-we hear 135 going on around the region at last count.

8. Victor MacFarlane, MacFarlane Partners.  The entrepreneur founder of America's largest minority-owned real estate investment company, with big investors like CalPERS, practically seems to live here now. Partnering with Forest City on Southeast Federal Center, Monument on Half Street, and JBG on its Urban portfolio, he's willing to place big bets on the inner city-which in other locales he's proved can pay off huge. Yes, we'll see where he is a year or two from now, but at the moment he's the freshest excitement on the scene.


9.  Debby Ratner Salzberg, Forest City.  The local scion of a huge Ohio-based national developer, she's become an ever bigger player in the last 12 months, as the transformation of areas like Logan Circle and Columbia Heights makes everyone think the same can be done in Southwest and Southeast at The Yards and Waterside Mall, or even Konterra in Laurel. She's becoming a major emerging force in the future of DC, if only the economy cooperates.


10.  Brent Pratt, Bryant Foulger, and Richard Perlmutter.  Is it too much to say they're changing the face of suburban Maryland? After masterminding the Silver Spring renaissance, they're preparing to reshape the University of Maryland College Park campus so dramatically that it has other colleges beating a path here to see it as a model for use around the country. They're also reviving Rockville Town Center, and pioneering the urbanification of Potomac along I-270.
Arnold & Porter
Hickok Cole
Reznick Group
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