- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 20, 2003

Washington, D.C., officials filed a motion this week to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a developer claiming it was unfairly eliminated from consideration for the redevelopment of the old convention center site.

The D.C. Office of the Corporation Counsel said New York developer the Related Companies had no basis to sue the District or to challenge the selection process.

Earlier this month, District planners chose a team featuring Hines Interests Limited Partnership, Archstone-Smith Residential and the Georgetown Development Corp. to build a mixed-use complex on 10 acres currently occupied by the old convention center.

Seven development teams began vying for the project last December. A team led by the Related Companies was among four semifinalists.

“Officials for Related Companies praised our selection process at an open city council hearing, and only began criticizing it when they didn’t win,” said Eric Price, D.C. deputy mayor for planning and economic development. “We ran a fair and open process, and selected a team we believe can make this vision a reality.”

The Related Companies first sued the District in July, after planners narrowed the development candidates from four teams to two. That followed a series of in-depth interviews with key members of the company staff and visits to other projects developed by the teams.

The Related Companies argued it was eliminated because of personality conflicts rather than the quality of its proposal, and was critical of the selection process. Related asked for an injunction to prevent the District from awarding the contract to Hines on Nov. 6.

In its motion to dismiss the suit, the District wrote that Related’s complaint amounted to “mere speculation, legal conclusions, and unsupported characterizations,” and that it failed to outline specifically how the District evaluated the teams unfairly.

District tops office rankings

Washington is the best office market in the country, according to a recent survey that ranks cities based on a series of economic indicators.

Marcus & Millichap, an Encino, Calif., real estate brokerage firm, ranked 38 office markets and placed Washington at the top of the list, ahead of San Diego and Riverside-San Bernardino in California. The company said that Washington moved up four spots from 2002, thanks mainly to growth in government and defense spending.

Marcus & Millichap said it expects almost 4 million square feet of office space to be completed in Washington next year, more than twice as much as any other market. The company said that despite the new space, Washington’s office-vacancy rate is expected to be the fourth-lowest in the nation in 2004.

In other news …

• Akridge Real Estate Services bought the Square 711 property, a 302,429-square-foot tract at the northeast corner of First and M streets NE. As much as 2 million square feet of commercial development is planned for the site.

• Peak Development bought the 27,000-square-foot office of the American Association of Blood Banks at 8101 Glenbrook Road in Bethesda. Cassidy & Pinkard was the buyer. Terms were not disclosed.

Property Lines runs Fridays. Tim Lemke can be reached at tlemke@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-4836.

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