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January 7, 2009  
 
       
 
 
TODAY'S LUNCH WITH
HANK PAULSON

A big shoutout to returning sponsor Forrester Construction, which among its many current projects is doing a full renovation of Ford's Theatre; rehab of the new Hill HQ of the American Trucking Association that includes digging under two historic buildings for a parking garage; a new restaurant at the Woodward Building on 15th; and (see story below) a $32M renovation of Jury's Hotel. We love hearing about busy contractors!


 

We were on hand a couple hours ago at the JW Marriott to hear Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson tell the Economic Club that a fundamental question policymakers must answer this year is what should be the government's role in the housing market. He outlined a bunch of possibilities, but seemed to use the most positive about something that surprised us: converting the GSE's into "utilities," you know, like the old phone company.

 

Paulson said returning to the previous status of Fannie and Freddie is unacceptable. He said government support should be either explicit or non-existent, and that a middle ground is "a recipe for another crisis." Being totally governmental, he said, "eliminates the necessary private market evaluation of risk and innovation," but he said a wholly private company won't be able to raise enough capital. Now, we're no experts and might have missed a subtlety, but he seemed to be verging on endorsement when he raised the idea of creating mortgage securitizer overseen by a commission that would set target rates of return and approve innovation and other activities while assuring safety and soundness.

 
Crystal City
 

In case you wonder whether all gravity has shifted to Obama, it appears not quite yet from the number of TV cameras present. (And look, even real estate was well represented: We see Perkins + Will's Rusty Meadows, Lerner's Ed Cohen, Boston Properties' Peter Johnston, and CB's Ernie Jarvis. And former SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt, but he doesn't count.) Paulson was asked what he'd recommend investing in at this point, and he said what he'd really like to know is what he has already been invested in, adding that the best way to make a small fortune is to put a large fortune into a blind trust.

 
CUA

FORRESTER'S FOUR STAR
 

We snapped this yesterday of Forrester's 100k SF gut and renovation of all eight floors and 313 guest rooms of Jurys Hotel at Dupont Circle, owned by the Doyle Collection of Ireland. Forrester's also adding 13 more rooms, a penthouse floor on top, and high-end finishes, all designed to make it a four-star. President David Forrester tells us it's an amazing "barnburner of a schedule" to do it all within six months.

 

Which sounds standard: They just delivered early to the District (on New Year's Eve no less) a full renovation of historic Addison Elementary School in Georgetown. The project is a JV with minority-owned Columbia Enterprises, and involves 16k SF of the historic building from the 1890's. Too bad it wasn't commissioned in time for Sasha and Malia.


BIGGEST DEAL OF '08?
 

That headline might just be right: Congrats to our friends at Monday Properties for the 10-year renewal of the 592,000 SF on 2nd St, SE, near the Southwest Waterfront, as the continued HQ of the US Coast Guard (which evaluated many new locations). Last year, Monday leased 1.1 M SF in the Metro area, with most of the deals coming, Monday tells us, after Wall Street downturn.


THE EYES HAVE IT
 

Hey, do you know how hard it is to take a picture of all three subjects of a picture with their eyes closed, as we did yesterday?  We should get an award. Or have a photo caption contest:  "At the Russell Senate Caucus Room yesterday for his swearing-in-party, newly elected Virginia Senator Mark Warner, center, asks his predecessor John Warner, right, and senior colleague Jim Webb to imagine 5% cap rates." 

 
 
Reznick Group
 
Forrester Construction
 
Bozzuto
 
Cardinal Bank
 
Silver Companies
 
JLL
 
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