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SEAL TEAM SIX

Washington DC

That’s what some have taken to calling Jeff Zell’s consulting and brokerage boutique JM Zell. In the last 18 months, he and his two dozen colleagues have done nine deals over 300k SF, and four over 1M SF. Fortunately, Jeff’s got a wine collection of 14,000 bottles to celebrate.

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No, he did not bring his own inventory to Joe’s Seafood, Stone Crab, and Steakhouse, where your publisher snapped this picture over lunch. But don’t wine glasses and folded hands make Jeff look like a wise Washington counselor, a veritable Lloyd Cutler of the real estate set? He has to be: He says his folks specialize in big deals that require heavy tax analysis and complicated structures, not to mention knowing the client's operations and the region’s availabilities cold. Yet he says he doesn’t take notes. Assuming he remembered right, here are some of those deals:

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Finding a new home for the Washington Post—300k SF at Hines’ One Franklin Square (1301 K).

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Putting Graham Holdings (the large Kaplan/Slate/5 TV station entity that remained after the sale of the family newspaper to Jeff Bezos) into Tishman Speyer’s 1300 North 17th in Rosslyn two months ago.

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Representing SAIC and Leidos in selling its 10-acre Tysons campus to Meridian: four buildings of 1.25M SF with another 2M SF that can be developed.

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Repping the Association of American Medical Colleges in getting that fancy new 300k SF building done at 655 K St NW, three years in the making—you should see the views from the cafeteria on the top floor and rooftop terrace with fire pit.

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And perhaps the piece-de-resistance: That long-running and still evolving project in Alexandria called Carlyle. He’s been selling for the last 20 years, was involved in the PTO’s massive move there in 2005, and has recently arranged for approvals of 1.8M SF of office, resi, and above-grade parking, so he can start developing a new part of it. The first building will be a 375k SF residential tower, which he says he’s close to a deal on, and 368k SF twin tower office building (variously rumored to be tenanted by the PTO, a national cybersecurity firm, or Fannie Mae).

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Bob Neuman was with us as well, the patron saint of interns everywhere: That’s the position he started in 25 years ago when Jeff launched his firm. Now he’s a veteran honcho with Jeff, entitled to drink wine at lunch (well, modest amounts under his boss’s close supervision).

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And let’s cut to the chase of what you really want to know: What does Jeff recommend these days for liquid libation? His favorites are red Burgundy and pinot noir—and among US producers he loves William Salem, Rochioli, and Kosta Browne. Then again, he’s glad to imbibe Nicky Nelson Liquid Farm chardonnay, and is high on Oregon and Washington state offerings. Maybe he doesn’t do real estate notes, but he sure does great “tasting notes.”