RESTON MARKET REACHING FOR RECORD
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By Nina James, for Bisnow on Business
Only two weeks ago, the top Reston Town Center product was going for $43 full service. Now the ask is $48 at One and Two Fountain Square.Grubb & Ellis’ Susan Sonley, who’s been selling in the market for 17 years, knows why.
"People believe Beacon [which is buying the old Equity Office buildings from Blackstone] is bullish on Town Center. It needs to get its money out of the purchase price. Currently the demand for the Town Center is high. These rates will eventually wash over the whole Reston market."
Off on the other side of the Toll Roadfrom Town Center earlier this month, Susan represented a landlord in locking down a 45k foot renewal and expansion for $27 a foot for the expansion piece. Those prices haven’t registered the “Beacon effect” yet, but she believes they will over time.
The Montgomery County-raised Sonley moved to the Virginia side to sell executive office space for Omni Office Group, then came to Grubb in 1999. She remembers her first deal for them, the one that landed her the title of Rookie of the Year at the firm. She already had a lot of contacts, and, she says, "I majored in lunch." She had been cold-calling, "but then I bumped into an old client from my executive suite leasing days, and they needed 7,000 square feet. I found it."
Since then she’s been representing tenants and landlords in the office markets of Reston and Herndon from the company’s Tysons Corner office. "One of the interesting things we’ve seen is a flight toward quality to the west. Companies that were in Tysons are going toward Reston." For example, Whitney, Bradley & Brown, a defense contractor, is about to take occupancy of a new building on Sunrise Valley, moving from Spring Hill Road. And east to Reston as well: Several years ago Rolls Royce moved out to Westfields off Route 28 but is now being lured back by amenity-rich Town Center.
As a woman, Susan is an exception on the commercial real estate scene, a fact she does not find intimidating. "I think that women can bring a different approach. We process information differently from the guys." How so? "Read Men are from Mars," she laughs. And she adds, "My clients know that I’ll work hard. I usually put in 11-12 hour days."
One of the extra things she makes time for is Race for the Cure. Last year her team raised over $82,000 and she’s gearing up to do even better this year. It’s a 5K on the first Saturday in June on the Mall and, she says, "I’m going for $100,000." But before she does that, she’s checking out Internet deals on Cozumel, where she likes to snorkel. :)