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February 27, 2008


Big thanks to great firms Clark Construction, WDG Architecture, and WFT Engineering for sponsoring our Breakfast & Schmooze with Jon Peterson of The Peterson Companies this Friday morning at the Tower Club. (The event is sold out.)  Thanks again!


More than one speaker at this morning's Real Share conference before 550 at the Grand Hyatt riffed on that headline, as a way to wait out the lulls and uncertainties in the commercial real estate market.  But it seemed more tongue-in-cheek than serious. The more common refrain was actually that the DC market is doing quite well, with some caveats sprinkled in:  like this might not apply to outlying areas; your loan-to-value ratios may be tighter than before; and you better be sure your buyers and sellers can close.


MacFarlane Partners' Victor MacFarlane, PR guru Julie Chase, JBG co-head Mike Glosserman, and Real Share chief Michael Desiato. Glosserman said it's never as good or bad a time as one thinks, and that DC seems very resilient, but admitted that the JBG Urban fund which he capitalized with Victor last summer might not have been do-able in today's environment.  Victor disagreed, saying his investors ask him that every quarter and he tells them it's a great collection of assets with a lot of exit strategies. He and Glosserman said it's is a good time for younger people to turn to their elders, who can reassure them "This, too, shall pass."  On the other hand, Victor's a pragmatist: He says he holds regular "lunch and learn" sessions in the office and added in one about workouts because younger people weren't sure what those were.    


Randall Hagner president Petch Gibbons and chairman Bruce Baschuk, Vornado/Charles E. Smith president Mitchell Schear, and Opus East CEO Jim Lee. Mitchell said Washington is "certainly not in a recession," and that the audience should feel "lucky and blessed to be in a vibrant economy." Bruce said he remembers everyone saying in the early 90s there would be a "15 year overhang," but that it disappeared rather quickly. Petch predicted that Chip Ryan and Dek Potts will not turn into Maytag repairmen, although he paraphrased Daniel Day Lewis that in far out areas "there will be blood." (He also quoted Hillary Clinton and protested being asked the first question.) Moderator John Germano asked if the ballpark will revive Southeast like Verizon Center did the East End. Jim replied: "We're doing 650,000 feet down there, so it better."    


ProLogis regional head Marc Levy, Cassidy & Pinkard Colliers CEO Joe Stettinius, and MacFarlane Partners office head Brad Dockser. Joe thinks NOMA will be more of an evolution, but that the ballpark district may be discovered overnight once the season begins. He also said NoMa and SE are in effect the new suburbs of DC, rather than Bethesda and Crystal City, whose infrastructures are highly developed.


Guardian Realty Investors' Anthony LaBarbera, ASD Architecture's Amy Bennett, Northmarq CEO Ed Padilla and his investment sales guru here, Chip Ryan. Ed gave the keynote; Northmarq has $13 billion of transaction volume and a $37B loan servicing portfolio in 28 cities; he said we should feel fortunate to be in "one of the top three markets in the country." He pooh-poohed alarmist predictions from Goldman Sachs about looming default rates. He was in from Minneapolis headquarters for a couple days, but told us his favorite place remains his house on Marco Island, Florida, from which he takes his 30' boat out for deep sea grouper fishing. Chip told us they want to get more into multifamily and are recruiting for brokers in that area. Amy says ASD is at work doing interior renovations of Ford's Theatre and a restacking project for CSC in Chantilly. Ed said at a time like this one needs perspective and told of taking his two daughters on a road trip, getting annoyed with them, and stopping at a gas station. A stranger at the next pump sighed and said he wished he had two daughters. Suddenly Ed was overcome with sentiment and realized how lucky he was. He smiled and asked the stranger, "So you've never had children?"  The stranger replied:  "Oh, no, I got five, I just wish I had only two."

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