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Richard Hollander

Richard Hollander looks like just a regular guy enjoying his red snapper for lunch with us on Wednesday at Toscana West on Eye Street, right?

Secretly, he's an international man of mystery who just returned from a week of business in Cannes where he stayed at the Sofitel Mediteranee, lunched on the beach, took meetings on 75 foot yachts, and hosted a dinner at the candlelit L'Auberge Provencale, the oldest restaurant in the city.

Is he a Hollywood director, there for the famous film festival?

Nah, that's in May.

He was there last week for the much bigger real estate festival. Well, bigger at least in terms of people. This year it filled up the Palais exhibition hall with 26,000 developers and brokers, 10% from the U.S. Warren Dahlstrom of Cushman, Andrew Weir of Holliday Fenoglio, and Rick Rosan of ULI were among the other Washingtonians on hand. The trade show featured a vast floor of "stands" showing such things as mockups of developments in Dubai, Singapore, Moscow, and Hamburg. One for the city of London had a button you could push to show all buildings with at least 20k feet available for lease.

So what does Richard do? Well, what he used to do was work forCushman & Wakefield. He set up their office here in 1979 and ended up running the mid-Atlantic region until he left in 1997. In the process, he hired the likes of Brian McVay, although he is almost over his remorse. (Just kidding, Brian! He thinks you’re amazing.)

Today, Richard is CEO of SIOR.

SIOR? That sounds like how you address a king. As in, "More red snapper, sire?"

Actually, he says you pronounce it just by saying the letters: S-I-O-R. And it stands for Society of Industrial and Office Realtors. The cognoscenti among you will know that it appears in the signature lines and on the business cards of prominent brokers. You may have it on your own.

It's an organization of 2500 brokers in 20 countries, plus 600 associate members, and confers the designation based on such factors as minimum transaction volume, years of experience, educational credentials, and adherence to a strict code of ethics. It was started in the days of FDR and is based on New York Avenue in DC. Kind of like being "board certified" as a doctor, Richard says.

What did he get from the Cannes visit (besides, we hope, a tax deduct)? Innovative ideas from around the world, and optimism about continued strength of the real estate market, especially in new places like Eastern Europe. Though he says some of the new architectural designs look like the architects were on LSD.