Hit List (41-50)
(nos. 1-40 in future installments)
A note on methodology:
The point of this list is to identify who’s hot in Washington commercial real estate: Who’s having impact that people in the know watch and talk about. It’s not a list of transaction volume or a recognition of lifetime achievement. It’s who’s setting trends and direction, a snapshot circa September 2006.
Yes, we are actually ranking the Top 50—you may notice they’re not in alphabetical order. So how do we do it? We checked in with about 50 astute observers of the scene, plus reviewed many candidates readers suggested. Then, talking to sages again, we winnowed.
It helped to omit certain categories. We excluded legends like Jim Clark or Coke Florance who are not as active as they used to be (we hope to unveil a Hall of Fame); people outside the real estate business even though they affect it, like Abe Pollin or Tony Williams; real estate figures who are largely defined by their national scope like Joe Robert or Coke’s son Andy; and those whose main focus is single family homes like Dwight Schar, Bob Kettler, and Wes Foster, because that really does seem a different universe. And since this is a list of individuals, we are at a loss to acknowledge companies that lack a prominent local face, like Blackstone, RREEF, Duke, Morgan Stanley, or Rockrose. Although we did say originally that we’d throw lawyers and accountants into the mix, we’ve decided to give them a separate list. And we plan a list of People to Watch, including some well known ones who are in transition to a new role.
Surprisingly, one question we faced was how to define commercial real estate. We know some would look at it narrowly in terms of end product: Office buildings and industrial. We decided to define it more broadly to include developers of retail, condos, and mixed use. There’s a lot of crossover these days, and, in our book, if you’re out there in the same capital markets, it all seems pretty commercial.
Finally, we admit this is an exercise in brazen editorial subjectivity. It’s unscientific and slightly ridiculous. But so are those Vanity Fair and Entertainment Weekly lists of power players.
Hello? That’s what makes it fun. And there’s always the next list for revisions.
41. David Cheek & Bruce Lane, Meridian Group. Have minted money through their ability to find diamonds in rough like Vitro and CRI buildings in Rockville. Long-term plans to develop 7 million feet at One Loudoun (with Miller & Smith) and 2.9 million at Potomac Yard makes expansion at Bethesda Metro seem practically puny.
42. Bill Hard, LCOR. Not resting on his PTO laurels (2.4 million square feet), now he’s redeveloping around White Flint.
43. Chris Smith, William C. Smith & Co. Creates silk purses in the likes of Anacostia, doing well and good at same time. Most amazing fact: Doesn’t toot own horn.
44. Bob Buchanan, Buchanan Partners. You can tell he was a former naval intelligence officer: Has vision to see things others don’t, like Loudoun tech center, and stealth to act behind the scenes, in Ballston, Eisenhower Valley, Prince William, Manassas, and Bowie. And he uses own money.
45. Deborah Ratner Salzberg, Forest City. Between Waterside Mall, Southeast Federal Center, and a Hope VI project, she’s transforming large swaths of neglected DC.
46. Marc DeLuca, ING Clarion. From 77K to 2121 K, from Chevy Chase Plaza to Morrison House, he’s written $700 million in checks the last year. Keep ‘em coming.
47. Mike Balaban, Lowe Enterprises. That humongous construction project known as City Vista—started with former partner Marc Dubick and in tandem with Pam Bundy and CIM—will change the residential face of NoMa. Lowe can only hope its office buildings around region will do the same for Tysons and Crystal City.
48. Sam Rose, Greenebaum & Rose. A former Rouse official in the business 40 years, who discovered “north of Union Station,” he still leads development all over D.C., Maryland, and out to Dulles. Partnered this with Angelo Gordon to buy Blackie’s/Marriott, where he can re-live many first-hand memories.
49. Bob Youngentob & Terry Eakin, EYA Development. Pioneers of luxury infill townhouses, every time they do something it’s notable, most recently Hyattsville and now Park Potomac.
50. Janet Davis, Brandywine. The former Prentiss leader and NAIOP Chairman now sticks to in-house leasing (where she may be the region’s best), but has greatest influence behind the scenes via the many she mentors.