- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 8, 2003

When defense contractor Titan Corp. said last month that it was consolidating office space and moving to Reston Town Center, only a few people raised their eyebrows. Likewise in March, when the law firm of Wilmer, Cutler and Pickering said it would move to Pennsylvania Avenue, there was only quiet discussion.Behind the scenes, though, these transactions required much more than some paperwork and a handshake. They proved to be unusually complex, with funky arrangements, strict deadlines and scores of people involved. And they stretched the limits of how much creativity and hard work goes into getting a lease signed. In Titan’s case, the challenge was not finding the 282,000 square feet it needed. The company had about 15 options in Northern Virginia, according to Rob Faktarow, managing director at Insignia/ESG’s Tysons Corner office and Titan’s lead broker. But the company had many requests: amenities, access to major roads, other similar tenants nearby. Reston Town Center seemed like the best fit, except it didn’t have 282,000 square feet of direct, available space. To make the deal work, the company needed to lease some space directly from Boston Properties and Terrabrook, which owns Reston Town Center, and sublease space from two law firms. A few existing tenants were squeezed out, some to the space that Titan was vacating in various spots throughout Northern Virginia. “You had to get some space that was not available initially,” Mr. Faktarow said. “You have to get so many parties to agree in a time frame, all contingent on one another. It was very complex and a huge challenge.”Mr. Faktarow said he pulls off one or two deals of this size each year, taking about 18 months of negotiation from start to finish. This deal took less than seven months, because Titan said it needed to consolidate space quickly. As many as 20 brokers and real estate consultants worked 12 to 14 hours per day, including weekends, to get the deal done. “I’ve been doing this 20 years and have never done anything like that,” Mr. Faktarow said. The complexity of the Titan deal is perhaps rivaled this year only by Wilmer, Cutler and Pickering’s lease in the District. In this case, the law firm will be moving onto the 1800 block of Pennsylvania Avenue NW, into three buildings with four owners, with one of the buildings still under construction. The firm initially will occupy 520,000 square feet, with the chance to expand to 644,000 square feet.The lease took nearly four years to iron out, with brokers at every turn believing it could not be pulled off. But inspection of the site showed that the leases for many tenants were expiring at about the same time and that most tenants had agreed to sign termination clauses.”After a long hiatus, we eventually walked [the site] block by block,” said Tom Fulcher, a managing director with broker Julien J. Studley and a lead member of the law firm’s real estate advisory team. “There were a bunch of maybes. We looked at it and said, ‘It will be hard, but you can do it.’ “Mr. Fulcher said it all came down to the location. Barring some sort of crazy event, he said, it is unlikely that this much space will become available on Pennsylvania Avenue again. “You can’t get a better location,” Mr. Fulcher said. “You would not go through this effort for a lesser site.”In other news …•The American Society of Civil Engineers awarded a Special Disaster Recovery Award to the companies involved in the Phoenix Project, the rebuilding of the portion of the Pentagon damaged in the September 11 attacks.•Property Lines runs Fridays. Tim Lemke can be reached at tlemke@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-4836.

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