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From Big D to DC

Dallas-Fort Worth
From Big D to DC
What's a road trip without a slide show? Our Houston, Dallas, and Atlanta reporters headed to DC last week to see one of the strongest markets in the US and visit Bisnow HQ, aka "Bisneyland."
Bisnow event
We witnessed a Bisnow record crowd of 1,300 at the Second Annual Washington Real Estate Summit at the Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner (about 15 miles outside DC). Last Tuesday, 26 big name panelists discussed everything from international investors (Korea and Canada are big retail players in NY) to micromarkets. Some highlights: Piedmont REIT CEO Don Miller says it's hard for people in DC in a period of "suspended disbelief" to understand what's going on in the rest of the country. Peterson Cos' Jon Peterson advises that if a deal doesn't work on the back of a napkin, you probably shouldn't do it.
Blair Hanuschak, Ray Messer, Martin Sharpless
Sporting a cowboy hat and boots, we fanned the crowd and found a fellow Texan in Walter P Moore president Ray Messer (out of Houston) between his DC colleague, principal Blair Hanuschak, and Gilbane VP Martin Sharpless. The two firms are partnering with Gensler on the design-build of the Mickey Leland Federal Buildingin Houston. Shooting for LEED Gold, it includes the renovation of a 22-story, high-rise federal office building. The building's exterior will undergo a complete recladding and get new mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. Martin says it'll cost more than $300M. Blair, who heads up the airport group for the firm, says they're also doing the DFW International Airport terminal renovations. Gilbane is on the short list of four firms competing for the $290M Smithsonian African-American Museum, according to Martin.
Market Square
Leased-up buildings in the DC CBD are trading for sky-high prices. While we were there, Wells REIT II (out of Atlanta) snapped upMarket Square, two buildings totaling 680k SF, for $905/SF, a record for DC. Construction's alive and well there, too. We talked with reps from both Sigal and Oncore Construction who tell us they have about$150M in projects in the works ranging from education to multifamilyand government renovations.
Lincoln Memorial
We can't escape the CRE news even while taking a vacay day. TheLincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and grounds are in the midst of a renovation: removing the leaking concrete slab, reconstructing the pool, and installing a new water circulation system. More safety measures will be added around the memorial and almost 108k SF of sidewalks will be improved from the Lincoln Memorial to the WW II Memorial. Targeted completion of the $31M project is spring 2012.
Tonie Auer
That's your DFW reporter, Tonie Auer, visiting the Newseum and deputizing a random tourist to take this pic with the US Capitol in the background. The Newseum opened a couple of years ago next door to the Canadian embassy. There were tidbits of history: pieces of theBerlin Wall, mangled iconic antenna from atop the World Trade Center, Sports Illustrated cover art, and Thomas Paine?s writing kit and trunk (used to store documents from the Continental Congress). The museum's bathroom wall provides some levity with tiles highlighting some of the best of the worst headlines: Panda Lectures This Week at the National Zoo; Officials? Heads to be Displayed in Lobby; and Canadian Seals Deal with Creditors.
Sibley Fleming and Catie Brubaker
While our visit was mostly sunny and mild, we had one rainy day when our Atlanta-based national real estate editor Sibley Flemingand Houston reporter Catie Brubaker ventured outside of Bisnow HQ (and yes, those umbrellas are branded with our company logo so we were technically still working). Appropriately, our offices are just down the street from this Henry Wadsworth Longfellow statue. He, too, was (almost) never boring. Need a break from reading vampire chronicles and detective stories? Go ahead, read The Song of Hiawatha and the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere for some culture.
Tonie working at table tennis
Here's one shot to prove that we did, indeed, do some actual work, making use of the company's Ping Pong table as a desk (it also doubled as a buffet for Monday employee lunch, ordered in). After walking down to the White House (just a few blocks away from our HQ), we learned that the Eisenhower Executive Office Building(next door to the White House) is going through a renovation program.
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
We snapped the EEOB, built around 1880 and housing about 1,500 federal employees. The $190M project includes integration of the latest anti-terrorism and force-protection measures including blast- and ballistic-resistant windows, doors, and debris barriers as well as installation of an efficient central HVAC system, a new electrical power system, and updated telecommunications and data systems. Per GSA directive, the upgrades will be LEED certified for the 692k SF building.
Charles Nelson
The original cupcake bakery Sprinkles emerged in its ninth city when it opened its new DC digs last Thursday. Founder Charles Nelson paid us a visit at Bisnow HQ while we were there and brought with him two boxes of treats, including these emblazoned with theBisnow logo. Sprinkles is also in other Bisnow markets including Beverly Hills, ChicagoDallasHouston, and is set to open in NYCthis summer. (You may also recognize Charles? wife, Candace, a judge on the Food Network?s Cupcake Wars.) Charles tells us Sprinkles will be active in delivery and in business parties, in addition to private parties. Find more info on Sprinkles (and place an order)here.