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February 13, 2009  
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For those of you interested in DC law firms, we invite you to our next Bisnow Schmooze & Breakfast: "Law Firm Trends in the Age of Obama: What's Hot and What's Not." Great panelists, networking, and food. BLT Steak, this Tuesday, Feb 17. Please see detailed event description and sign up! 


We took the picture below last night at Transwestern’s Trendlines, where Delta Associates founder Greg Leisch told the crowd of 1,200 that the recession would end this year. If that’s not good news for a Friday, we don’t know what is.


Greg says the U.S. was the first into the recession, and will be the first out, and DC will lead that charge. That doesn’t mean the next few years won’t be tough (recovery time about four years), but he recommends that as early as the end of next year, developers should begin constructing new retail. (The office market is going to take a little longer to bounce back.)


Along with the good news, two awards were bestowed. Chris Smith, president of W.C, Smith and Co., took home 2009 Private Company TrendSetter of the Year honors for his firm’s redevelopment of SE, particularly its work in Capitol Riverfront. (Chris told the story of wearing Madras slacks and jacket in high school and said that was the last time he attempted to be a trendsetter.) He says that the next big things in the works are projects in Ward 7 and NOMA. We caught him right before he and his wife headed up to NYC for a romantic Valentine’s Day weekend (without the kids, of course).

Crystal City

Our old friend Federal Realty Investment Trust CEO Don Wood took home the public company Trendsetter award, and he also let us in on a little secret. His company is building a new Equinox gym on Hampden Lane in Bethesda (across from Austin Grill) that’s scheduled to open in the next 18 months. Don, who is also president of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, had a more important message for us: Help fight this disease.


Cassidy’s Tim Summers and Spencer Stouffer (kicking back in the firm’s NoVa office) are smiling because they have 20 tenants looking to lease 75K SF of office space in the area. (In this market, imagine that.) And the two might look relaxed, but they’ve been busy, leasing 130K SF in the past 12 months in Normandy’s Westfields portfolio, including a 30K SF lease at Stoneleigh II. Spencer tells us that ’09 could be a good year as asking rates in the top NoVa markets are holding steady: spaces in Rosslyn with a city view are marketing at $60 SF.


NoVa’s not the only place that asking rates are holding firm. Cassidy’s Phil Thomas estimates that even though tenants in the East End are getting a 5 to 10% discount per SF off the regular asking price, that has been the norm for years. Not to be outdone by Spencer and Tim, Phil is also making deals. Along with Richard Tonner and Kerri Mulligan Salih, he represented JBG when it signed three new tenants at 1101 K recently: the DC Bar, Lazard Freres and the Information Technology Industry Council. The building’s now 65% committed.


We also dropped by JLL’s downtown office and caught research manager Scott Homa at a window on the city he analyzes. Scott peered into his crystal ball and gave us an optimistic outlook. He thinks that the East End and CBD will benefit the most under the stimulus plan. And, the firm estimates that DC will see 650k SF of positive net absorption this year among federal agencies -- much of it in these two submarkets (proximity to the Treasury and White House is oh, so crucial). Does that mean that the Treasury is already looking for more space? JLL’s lips are sealed for now. 

Arent Fox
Calvert Jones
Cardinal Bank
Washington Property Company
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