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D.C. hotel 'cleans up' city's downtown entrance

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Plans for a 430-room hotel located at the former Yale Steam Laundry building were approved by the District of Columbia's Historic Preservation Review Board in Washington, D.C. The hotel will be located in the 400 block of New York Avenue, two blocks east of the new convention center. Construction will begin in spring of 2000, and completion is slated for 2002 - the 100th anniversary of the Yale Steam Laundry and the opening of the city's new convention center.

The original building, built in 1902, will be preserved, as will several of its features including the 120-ft. smokestack which will be transformed into the lobby, restaurant and public areas for the hotel. The 1924 wing will be converted into a gym and business center, and the 1919 stable/garage will be converted into retail space.

"Washington, D.C. - with government being its main industry - has basically no industrial sites," says Jerome Cramer, a spokesperson for the project. "This is one of the few industrial sites that remains. [The location of the proposed hotel] is right at the crossroads of what's going to be the new entrance to downtown."

It all sounds so rosy. Continued prosperity for the real estate industry in 2000. No recession. No "systemic downturn" in prices.

Could it be true? Yes indeed, says Landauer Realty Group chief economist Hugh Kelly in his annual bellwether state-of-the-industry report.

"The destiny of the real estate industry is, in large part, a function of embedded demographic patterns," says Kelly. He predicts that the supply/demand dynamics of the property markets do not suggest any immediate threat of a sudden, volatile disturbance of conditions in the industry. The key discipline, he says, will be to project users' space needs based on achievable, affordable levels of demand, rather than expecting the growth rate to continue.

Kelly predicts that revitalized downtowns will be a big story from 2000 through 2010, driving more institutional interest in the office sector in major U.S. cities.

For more information on the Landauer report, go to the firm's Website at Landauer is a division of Northbrook, Ill.-based Grubb & Ellis.

Another forecast study, conducted by New York-based Cushman & Wakefield, focused particular attention on the impact of technology on the real estate markets. Janice Stanton and Jason Spicer in C&W's research and consulting services division are predicting that "the high-tech revolution will have long-term economic implications similar to those of the industrial revolution. In fact, contrary to initial expectations, the demand for space has increased, as different types of office-using jobs have been created."

"Downtown America," as C&W calls it, has been a beneficiary of the high-tech revolution. "While it is true that many back-office operations have relocated out of high-cost CBDs, the fact remains that downtown markets are thriving, as technology jobs have clustered in certain cities and 'tech corridors.' The uneven and clustered geographical distribution of high-tech growth has left many social and economic observers puzzled. Technology was supposed to make geography less relevant to business growth and allow rural areas to compete with central cities. Why is it, then, that in a world where large CBDs like New York, San Francisco and Boston were supposed to become irrelevant, high-tech and computer-related businesses of all kinds are finding their ability to expand hampered by a shortage of qualified workers?"

The full Cushman & Wakefield 2000 forecast is available online at

MIAMI - United Trust Fund and National Real Estate Investor are teaming up to hold a new symposium, "Capitalizing on Corporate Sale-leasebacks." The half-day conference takes place Jan. 25 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel/Buckhead in Atlanta, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Featured speakers include Sidney Domb, UTF president; William C. Green, managing director at Banc of America Securities LLC; Fred Berliner, director of acquisitions at UTF; Ted Barr, senior manager at Deloitte & Touche; and Douglas Siedenburg, executive vice president at The Siedenburg Group.

The symposium is open to all real estate professionals, including commercial real estate brokers, developers, lenders, investment bankers, CPAs, company executives and pension fund advisers. Admission is free.

"I would say there are more sale-leaseback deals being done now than ever before," says UTF's Fred Berliner. This year, the firm will do about $300 million to $350 million worth of sale-leaseback deals, slightly more than the year before.

For more on the burgeoning net-lease industry, see our feature story in this issue, "Competition remains stiff in net-lease arena," starting on page 80.

For more information or to confirm your free registration for the UTF/NREI symposium, please call (305) 702-6580.

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