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October 3, 2008

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NPR—with the help of Studley—pulled off a stunner this week. It announced that Boston Properties in one fell swoop will both develop its new headquarters site in NOMA (1111 North Capitol) and buy its current headquarters in Mt. Vernon Triangle (635 Mass Ave.). BP normally develops for its own account; why would it do third party work at 1111? Because in return it gets to acquire and redevelop 635 as a next generation trophy office building in one of DC's few prime market development sites.  


Studley’s Vernon Knarr, Julie Rayfield, and Art Greenberg yesterday in their offices. (Others on their team for NPR: David Perlstein, Parker Lange, Collin Wheeler, Adam Schindler and Angela Cordovez.) They tell us the transaction “required” a lot of lunches at fave PS 7 (“Sarah Smith will owe me for the plug,” Art says); or catered food at NPR—Vernon’s battle cry became “No more vegetarian lasagna!” In August everyone took at least a week of vacation and it became a challenge to do conference calls from the beach; then Labor Day “was a real Labor Day” pulling everything together. (Of course, we suspect their Pillsbury and DLA lawyers might have done a lot of the late night work.)

Crystal City

This is 1111 North Capitol that J Street sold NPR several months ago, prior to which architect Shalom Baranes did a renovation design, but Boston Properties will be doing something different. It will incorporate 50% of the original structure and add a tower. Now it can be told: NPR also considered sites at 225 Virginia Ave in DC, and near the Silver Spring Metro (with Montgomery County offering to be “very creative”). NPR credits great help from Neil Albert, Konrad Schlater, and Robin Eve Jasper in zeroing in on NOMA. NPR/BP needs at least a year to do approvals since historic preservation is involved, then 27 months for construction because of special studios and technical equipment.


In the meantime, BP will lease 635 back to NPR. Indeed, that was an objective of linking: so BP could time leasing of 635 to a law firm or other tenant four years or so from now based on its inside knowledge of what’s happening with 1111. One other factor favoring BP: NPR knew its check would clear.


You thought Transwestern’s Cliff Mendelson was just a Springsteen junkie. But he’s also a sophisticated structured finance real estate guy—who knows a good opportunity in a bailout when he sees one.  He knows the government will need help unwinding toxic mortgage securities and won’t want to pay fees to Wall Street this time. He thinks the most logical alternative is experts at real estate firms who know about things like mezzanine debt and CMBS transactions, as well as how to value underlying real estate collateral. So the 20 year vet (of Carey Winston, L.J. Melody, and the last six years at TW) is putting together a Transwestern team out of its Bethesda office including colleagues Al Missirlian, Tim McCann and Chris Sanger that may also include folks as necessary from their other 25 offices around the country; plus, he’s looking for a bond trader and someone with a rating agency background.  [Got ideas? Poke Cliff.]


The DC Department of Small and Local Business Development this week hosted a Local Business Appreciation Reception at the Nats Park PNC Diamond Club to thank “businesses big and small” that helped construct the stadium, fulfilling the requirement for 50% use of local, certified business enterprises. Among the honorees: employees of Ideal Electric of Ward 4 who helped supply lightbulbs, posing here with At-Large Councilmember Kwame Brown.


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