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June 20, 2008

"The World's
Healthiest Building"

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Sure, it's a marketing slogan—but it just might be true. Last evening, we were on hand in Rockville as the Lerner and Abramson families proudly showed 150 friends and brokers their newest collaboration: 2000 Tower Oaks Blvd, at the corner of Wootton Parkway, nine stories and 200k SF they like so much they'll make it their own headquarters, leaving six floors available for lease. As 3rd-generation Marnie Abramson told the group, they intend it to be an iconic building that blends five-star elegance with not just LEED Gold but "Vedic" lifestyle principles that go beyond green and "connect people to the intelligence of nature."


Full of energy last night, the two family patriarchs: Ted Lerner, 82, and Sonny Abramson, 91, who over 35 years have jointly developed the likes of Washington Square, White Flint Mall, Landover Mall, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission headquarters. Tower Oaks had its roots in Sonny's purchase of 220 acres 40 years ago. In the last decade, he sold half to Boston Properties, a bit to townhouse developers, and recently cut the Lerners in on the remaining land in return for cash to develop. Now they have plans for as many as four phases, including breaking ground in Q1 '09 for 200 Marriott Renaissance ClubSport hotel rooms, a 75k SF health and fitness center, and 100 luxury condos.

Green Earth

This is the building last night—with all those lights on the top floor because the Abramsons were giving tours of the space their Tower Companies will take next month; Lerner Enterprises will move into the 7th and 8th floors in October. Maybe it was our imagination, but the air did seem crisper inside—and indeed we were told that all air in the building is fully exchanged every 51 minutes and is scrubbed through filters like those used on nuclear subs. They use 41% less water than in typical offices, purchase wind power to offset electrical energy, use lighting that dims in daylight and goes off if occupants leave, and door cores made from wheat straw agricultural waste. There are huge tropical planters everywhere and big windows for virtually every employee. 


The Abramson Clan:  Gary, Pennie, Sonny, Marnie, Brian, and Jeffrey Abramson; Alex, Amanda, and Eric Posner; Rona and Shari Abramson. Jeffrey, long an adherent to Vedic principles that govern building orientation, proportions, and placement, says the building faces due east to capture healthier morning sunshine, boasts a platform (called a vastu) to repel negative energy, and has its exact center marked by an illuminated onyx square. No wonder architects from Ireland, France, England, and Germany have called to arrange tours.   


The Lerner family: Ed Cohen, Mark Lerner, Annette and Ted Lerner. Just in case you thought they only develop major league ballparks.  


Building architects: Kishimoto Gordon Dalaya's Ben Kishimoto, Karla Rangi, Anna Yahn, Eddy Rajtboriraks, and Majoj Dalaya.  Manoj, who actually wrote his thesis 20 years ago on Vedic architecture, told us everything for this building was thought out, even which direction the toilets face.


Touring the 9th floor: Grubb & Ellis' Ken Smondrowski, Transwestern's Tom Hilley, Tower Companies' Chuck Wallach, CBRE's Kevin Howard, and Tower Companies' LuAnn Sinclair. The space is designed to LEED Platinum and includes everything from recycled glass floors to bamboo cabinets.


Studley's Jack Schneider (here with Ted Lerner) won the raffle for four presidential seats (each goes for $325) and says it's the first time in 31 years of going to broker events he's ever won anything. We suspect this morning he's a big believer in Vedic.


Cushman star broker Brian McVay (with Mark Lerner) didn't win anything, but he's had plenty of other prizes lately: Two weeks ago, he took his three college kids to Acapulco (where night life doesn't start until midnight), then last week went with 15 other Cushies to five golf courses in Ireland, and this weekend is off to the Hamptons. Next week he'll be tanned, rested, and ready to resume brokering the Lerners' 20 M Street.


Jeffrey Abramson in front of 2000 Tower Oaks with what he calls "the people who made it happen": From left, Tower's Stuart Margulies, Bernie Sanker, Chuck Wallach, and David Borchardt, and to the right of Jeffrey, Whiting & Turner's Randy Reisner, Jake Kamon, and Rob Driscoll.


Also on hand last night: Cushman's Mark Minich, Transwestern's Arlene Begelman (who worked with Minich 24 years ago at Carey Winston), Cresa's Gary Stein, Cassidy & Pinkard's Brendan Cassidy and Bill Collins (who's done a lot of work for the Lerners and Abramsons on other buildings), Diamond Properties Jeff Diamond (whom the Lerners use to lease most of their properties) , and Pillsbury's Robert Weinstock.


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