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That headline is what the county's relatively new economic development chief Dan Gundersen had to say at yesterday'sBisnow Baltimore County Summit. (That wasn't all he said, of course. Dan speaks in more than single-sentence fragments.)
Bronwyn Proutt-Wheeler, Jonathan Schwartz, Dan Gundersen, Vicki Almond at Towson University's West Village Commons on Feb. 29, 2012
We snapped Dan and Baltimore County councilwoman Vicki Almond (right), along with Palm Beach Gardens Constructions'Bronwyn Proutt-Wheeler and assistant-to-Vicki Jonathan Schwartz. He also says the county's business interests continue to think of their home base as a cosmopolitan outlier, despite the fact that its 800,000 population is bigger than San Fran, Austin, Charlotte, and twice Atlanta's (like the boy who grows but doesn't know his own strength just yet). If the city and county thought of themselves as one, the area would be larger than San Diego or Dallas, and so he proposes worldly development ideas using Atlanta, Austin, and Charlotte as benchmarks.

Towson University's West Village Commons on Feb. 29, 2012
Here's half the 450 who joined us at Towson University's new West Village Commons. Dan's a fan of "pushing buttons." He told a story about traveling in Shanghai and pushing the "Penthouse Dining" button in his hotel elevator, just to see. When he arrived, he fixed a plate at the breakfast buffet and sat down at what turned out to be the only table. Long story short, he crashed Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter's breakfast. That's why he likes pushing buttons. That breakfast, by the way, was on Sept. 10, 2001. Dan flew into BWI at sunrise on Sept. 11, and two weeks later, once air travel was restored, Jimmy and Rosalynn landed back in the States. That's, we assume, why Dan likes to fly on the red-eye.

Tom Maddux, Brian Gibbons, and Andrew Ingalls at Towson University's West Village Commons on Feb. 29, 2012
We also snapped KLNB retail principal Tom Maddux, Greenberg Gibbons CEO Brian Gibbons, and Kimco Realty's Andrew Ingalls(that's right—Foundry Row and Owings Mills Mall in one shot). Brian started off with a doozy of news outside Baltimore County: Bozzuto is closing today on a deal to build another 225 apartments at Greenberg Gibbons' Annapolis Towne Centre. And last week, his firm struck a deal with a California-based pension fund to help with the redevelopment of Laurel Mall. As for Foundry Row, Brian says it's grocery-anchored format won't compete with Kimco's fashion-centered plans for the mall, except for restaurants. He says there are commitments for half the 385k SF of retail, and uses are reserved for half the office space. In fact, Greenberg Gibbons might take the other half.
Wayne Gioioso, Jerry Wit, Brian Gibbons, and David Sheffenacker at Towson University's West Village Commons on Feb. 29, 2012
Mid-Atlantic Properties' prez Wayne Gioioso, who emphatically represented the Towson office market throughout the panel, recently bought six properties there from COPT for $60/SF. The fix-up artist says the properties were 20% vacant when he bought them, and that figure has already dipped to 15%. (In a related note, Mid-Atlantic Properties has taken over 5,000 SF in the portfolio.) St. John Properties' Jerry Wit says his firm has just bought the empty, 100k SF old Koppers building on I-95 for $1.5M, or $15/SF. ("Game on, Jerry," Wayne says.) And over at St. John's Baltimore Crossroads @ I-95, leasing is "painfully slow," Jerry says, but 150k SF of deals tends to get "lost in the sauce" when you're talking about a 1,000-acre park.
David Sheffenacker at Towson University's West Village Commons on Feb. 29, 2012
Preston Sheffenacker founder David Sheffenacker, who deals mostly in industrial, likes the southern side of the county, where he doesn't need to spend $20/SF to get a tenant in. But when a tenant leaves, you sure feel it, he says. (When Neil Sedaka wrote "Breaking Up is Hard to Do" he was actually talking about industrial tenants.) Ground-up isn't David's game, though he has had success converting industrial to office. He's also noticed that as tenants cram more people into fewer square feet, the need for parking per SF actually rises, something he's noticed with Northrop Grumman.
Ed Levin and Dan Weeden at Towson University's West Village Commons on Feb. 29, 2012
Thanks to our great moderator Gordon Feinblatt's Ed Levin and Eneractive Solutions prez Dan Weeden, who says of Baltimore County's aged building stock that it has good bones, even if its muscles have atrophied a little bit and it's grown a little belly fat. (It just needs to trim up for beach season and it'll be ready to go.)
Anna Ford and Mel Cerruti at Towson University's West Village Commons on Feb. 29, 2012
Thanks also to our sponsors, Interior Furniture Solutions' Anna Ford and president Mel Cerruti. Their furniture dealership has recently completed projects like ITT's Center of Excellence. Mel tells us the company prides itself on customer service: getting in early and "programming" the client—not in the brainwashing kind of way, of course, but rather understanding the important furniture issues like durability, pricing, flexibility, and tech integration. That last one is an interesting evolution, Mel says. To attract and retain top employees of all ages, employers need to create a universal work environment that offers maximum efficiency and productivity.
Kevin Keane in Owings Mills on Feb. 29, 2012
Yesterday afternoon, we were over in Owings Mills and happened upon Abeshouse Partners' Kevin Keane, who won the Kindle that Anna and Mel raffled off during the morning event. That's Kevin's artist/daughter Rachel, who turned six in January.