- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 18, 2003

A judge from the District of Columbia Superior Court this week ruled in favor of a New York developer that claimed it was eliminated unfairly from a competition to build on the former convention center site downtown.

Judge A. Franklin Burress Jr. rejected a motion by the District to dismiss the claim by the Related Cos. L.P., and said the company had enough evidence to challenge the way D.C. planners evaluated development teams.

D.C. planners in November selected a team led by Houston developer Hines Interests to refurbish the old convention center site at Ninth and H streets NW. New office space, retail outlets, open space and a parking garage are planned for the 10.5-acre lot.

Related was one of seven development teams vying for the project. It was eliminated from consideration in July, after members of the company met with a special advisory committee assigned to review the companies’ qualifications and interview company officials.

Related executives said they were told by members of the advisory committee that Related would not be selected, but that the committee failed to base their opinion on the criteria outlined in the District’s request for proposals. Companies were graded using a system of points awarded for everything from previous experience, finances and commitment to underprivileged contractors.

“They sort of deviated from the process,” said Marty Berger, Related’s executive vice president. “It really had nothing to do with what was in the [request for proposals]. It really had more to do with personality conflicts.”

Mr. Berger said Related filed suit in September, after being denied a debriefing and receiving no response from a protest letter from planning officials. The company is not seeking money or the right to build on the convention center outright. Rather, it has requested that the competition be reopened.

Planning officials described the lawsuit as “baseless.”

“Above all, we ran a fair and exhaustive process,” said Chris Bender, a spokesman for the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. “All of the decisions that were made were based solely on the criteria laid out in the [request for proposals.]”

“We are moving forward,” Mr. Bender said. “It’s important for the residents of the city to know that.”

A hearing to discuss an injunction is scheduled for Jan. 12 in D.C. Superior Court.

In other news

• The John Buck Co.’s JBC Fund II bought 1901 L St. NW, an eight-story office building in the Golden Triangle, from RREEF, a real estate investment adviser and subsidiary of Deutsche Bank. Terms were not disclosed.

• CRESA Partners helped Teletronics International Inc. expand and relocate to 22,856 square feet at 2 Choke Cherry Lane in Rockville. Teletronics had occupied 8,000 square feet at 1803 Research Blvd. in Rockville, but CRESA (Corporate Real Estate Service Advisers) helped the company break free from its previous lease two years early. Teletronics will pay $10 less per square foot per year.

• FGM, a government contractor and software maker, signed a 10-year lease for 51,000 square feet at 12021 Sunset Hills Road in Reston.

Property Lines runs Fridays. Tim Lemke can be reached at [email protected] or 202/636-4836.

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