MARK LERNER on BASEBALL
Mark Lerner (#3 on our Bisnow Power 50 list in commercial real estate) graciously agreed to an interview the other day. So I surveyed some of our readers. What do you highly intellectual real estate aficionados yearn to know? The future of Tysons? Predictions for absorption levels and cap rates? Plans for big new developments? Of course not; you can read that in the Post. We deliver the nuggets you really want.
Did you collect baseball cards as kids?
I didn't have a big collection, but I really liked buying a package and opening it up.
Frank Robinson—to this day. He was my baseball idol growing up. I saw him play many times at Memorial Stadium and RFK Stadium. My favorite Senator, like most fans, was Frank Howard. I also really liked Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken, Jr., Boog Powell, Joe Morgan, and Paul Blair. And I had broadcaster favorites like Chuck Thompson, Vin Scully, and Jon Miller. I was lucky enough to meet the latter two this summer.
Remember any games?
My favorite was going to Opening Day with my dad every season at RFK. I also fondly remember the 1969 All-Star Game at RFK and a number of the World Series games in Baltimore during the 60's and 70's.
Did you play Little League?
Yes, third base and left field. I also played football and basketball.
How long ago did you think about owning a team?
Since I was a young man, my dad and I have talked about someday being lucky enough. We started talking seriously about pursuing the Nationals in the summer of 2004. We had numerous talks about it as a family and agreed unanimously.
What's your relationship with Dan Snyder?
I have a good relationship with Dan. We met soon after he purchased the Redskins. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a businessman. Lerner Enterprises is actually his landlord with two of the Redskins retail stores and also his new offices for Red Zone LLC at our newest building in the Corporate Office Centre at Tysons II.
How much time do you spend on baseball?
A large amount, but I'm still working my day job full time at Lerner. My dad, my brothers-in-law Ed Cohen and Bob Tanenbaum, and I are trying to patent the 36 hour day. It's been 24-7 nonstop since Bud Selig awarded us the franchise on May 3.
Are you recognized in public more, when you're shopping at the mall?
Not really. I'm pretty low key. It happens walking around RFK, but that's to be expected.
What do your kids think about it?
My three children—Lauren, Jonathan & Jacob—and my six nephews and nieces have been very supportive. They know it's a dream come true.
Favorite stadium food?
Peanuts and Kosher Hot Dogs.
Have you been to many other ballparks?
I've been to many around the country. It's always been a hobby. I have a great time walking around them, and it's really helped us in trying to make the new Nationals Park a much better stadium than our fans would have received if our family had not purchased the Nats. We're spending millions of dollars to enhance our fans' experience.
What's it like to work as such a tight knit family?
My dad, Ted Lerner, is a very special man and a brilliant businessman. Since I was a little boy, all I wanted to do was go to work with him. He has been a great teacher, mentor, and especially a wonderful father. There is not a day that goes by that I still do not learn something new from him. With my brother-in-laws Ed and Bob, the four of us take great pride in the quality of our developments around the Washington area and the first-class management we provide tenants. And it's very simple how we work as a family. When major decisions need to be made, we either do it unanimously or we do not do it. Our offices are all on the same floor, just a few steps from each other. We all have different responsibilities, but we get together with all of our staff every month for 2-3 days to review everything the company is developing.
You're moving offices?
We're moving to Rockville in 2008. They will be in a LEEDS Gold rated building at 2000 Tower Oaks Boulevard that we're developing with the Abramson family. My father and Albert Abramson have been friends for over 70 years and our families have been long-time partners in a number of great projects for almost 40 years.
Is the "next generation" of Lerners coming into play?
I certainly hope so. We could use the help. :)