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This Morning's Packed Summit

The biggest names in the biz converged at the Marriott Wardman Park today for our 5th Annual Washington Real Estate Summit. Nearly 650 packed the ballroom for the skinny on conditions, predictions, and even some sage advice.

The morning kicked off with a conversation about entrepreneurship between former US Senator (and current Arent Fox advisor) Bob Bennett and billionaire BET founder Bob Johnson. Bob says that learning from failure is key. One failure he’s taken lessons from? Holding on as majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats too long. (He paid $300M for the team in ’02 but sold a majority interest to Michael Jordan in 2010.) "Certain attributes of a business fit me, and basketball is not one of them."

Democratic mayoral nominee Muriel Bowser gave the welcome that made our event official. She says that while DC is a "good bet" in terms of business, tech, tourism, and sustainability, "we can't rest on our laurels." More tech and entrepreneurship need to be attracted, and reforms need to be made in taxes and schools.

We presented retiring George Mason whiz Steve Fuller with our Bizzy award for lifetime achievement. Steve (with Bisnow's Tyler Fisher) agrees with Muriel that DC should be a global capital, a tough proposition given the shrinking nature of the federal government. But while our economy might not be growing as fast as others, expect a rebound next year and onward, he says. 

The urbanization of America's cities is a trend that's here to stay, according to Jamestown CEO Matt Bronfman and Brookfield Office US CEO Mitch Rudin, flanking JLL's Derrick Mashore. Mitch says the trend is evident in that new driver's licenses among 18- to 25-year-olds have gone down 30% over the past 30 years, indicating a flight to cities. But it's not just multifamily benefiting; companies want to head downtown from the suburbs, too, says Matt: "You don't want to be in your father's office building anymore." (Unless Chelsea Clinton has presidential aspirations.)

Stay tuned tomorrow for more insight from the top finance, development, and retail gurus in DC.