- The Washington Times - Monday, January 14, 2008

For Steve Cohen, the new vice president of real estate for Rockville developer Opus East LLC, the key to managing the downturn in the market will be playing it safe.

“My business philosophy is not trying to time the cycle,” said Mr. Cohen. “We don’t have a crystal ball. Rather than trying to time our purchases and sales perfectly, we will try and invest in good real estate. In the end of the day, we will have created value.”

For Mr. Cohen, who was promoted from director of real estate, and Opus East, that means putting more emphasis on their operations in the District rather than their suburban Maryland developments. Opus East has two D.C. projects under development, one at 100 M St. SE and another at 1015 F St. Half St. SE, but Mr. Cohen hopes to increase the company’s presence in the District.

The District is home to one of the top three office markets in the U.S., Mr. Cohen said.

While the residential real estate business continues to dwindle in the D.C. area, the commercial real estate business has yet to see a significant slowdown. Although some in the industry worry that demand for office space will soon drop.

“The biggest issue on the horizon that everyone is talking about is the slowing of new jobs,” Mr. Cohen said. “Office space demand is driven by new jobs, and in the District, those are office jobs.”

Unlike many commercial real estate companies, though, Opus relies on its own capital to fund the development of its buildings, making the recent tightening of credit less of an issue and giving it a step up on other developers that rely on bank loans to fund their projects.

Steve’s expertise on the intricacies of D.C. development has made him a major driving force in Opus‘ recent success in the District,” said Scott Brody, general manager and vice president of Opus East. “His promotion is well-deserved, and together, we look forward to many more successful projects.”

Mr. Cohen earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Brandeis University in 1977 and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University in 1981.

He lives in Clarksville, Md., with his wife, Barbara, and three children.

Timothy Warren