- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Consumer electronics retailer Best Buy announced last week it is opening four stores in Maryland and Virginia in another example of the retail industry’s growing presence in the region’s real estate market.

The four stores total 110,000 square feet of retail space in Leesburg and Glen Allen in Virginia, and Baltimore and Lexington Park in Maryland.

“We need to keep pace with where people want to live,” said Ken Morris, Best Buy district manager.

The Washington, D.C. Economic Partnership, formerly called the Washington, D.C. Marketing Center, says retail is making up a growing portion of the region’s real estate as a result of an expanding job market.

By the end of August, 657,974 square feet of retail space had been developed in the District, compared with 234,178 square feet for all of 2001 and 369,208 square feet last year.

Major retail projects were completed in the past year at Gallery Place and Tivoli Square.

Real estate development has been helped tremendously by $50 billion of government contracting in the D.C. area last year, up 18 percent from 2003.

The D.C. area’s real estate investment market is ranked first in the nation by the Urban Land Institute and first in the world for foreign investors by the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate.

“There is a tremendous amount of redevelopment in the city,” said Daniel Butler, vice president of merchandising and retail operations for the National Retail Federation, a D.C. trade group. “The cumulative effect of all that development is that this is an attractive place for retailers to open up.”

In other news …

• The greening of the D.C. area’s real estate took a step forward last week when the development firm Buchanan Partners broke ground on Bowie Corporate Center, a five-story, top-tier office building at 4321 Collington Road, across the street from Bowie Town Center.

The building is designed to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification. It includes a heating and cooling system that reduces building energy use by 40 percent, a reflective roof, filtered air to improve indoor air quality and tinted windows.

Construction on the Bowie office building coincides with legislation introduced last week before the D.C. Council to require developers to meet LEED standards on commercial or D.C. government projects of 20,000 square feet or larger.

However, the measure is expected to face opposition from developers who would need to pay more money per square foot for energy-efficient design and materials.

Buchanan Partners said the energy-saving features added about $15 per square foot to the Bowie Corporate Center’s cost, but that it would be offset by the Maryland Green Buildings Tax Credit.

“The market is responding favorably to Bowie Corporate Center’s green design,” said David McClatchy, vice president of Scheer Partners, the leasing agent for the property.

Meanwhile, the Maryland-National Capital Building Industry Association plans to offer education, training programs and online links for learning about green building design.

• Property Lines runs on Wednesdays. Call Tom Ramstack at 202/636-3180 or e-mail [email protected]

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