Washingtonian has partnered with CoStar, the largest commercial real estate information and analytics provider in the country. Below are CoStar’s 2021 Power Broker Awards. The awards recognize the top commercial real estate brokers and firms in the Washington, DC, market, based on closed sale and lease transactions from 2021. CoStar verifies and analyzes total transaction volume to identify the winners.
Top Industrial Leasing Brokers
Brad Benna, Matan Companies
Peter Burleigh, NAI Michael
Stephen Cloud, Transwestern Real Estate Services
Dan Coats, JLL
Caulley Deringer, Transwestern Real Estate Services
John Dettleff, JLL
Bob Gibbs, CBRE
Gary Glatter, Cresa Washington DC
Andrew Hassett, Transwestern Real Estate Services
Jon Lawrence, Cushman & Wakefield
Pete McCabe, The Pruitt Corporation
Daniela Patino, CBRE
Peregrine Roberts, TSC Realty Services
Tony Russo, CBRE
Lance Schwarz, NAI Michael
Top Office Leasing Brokers
Evan Behr, JLL
Wendy Feldman Block, Savills
Henry Chapman, CBRE
Brian Connolly, JLL
David Cornbrooks, Savills
Phil Dickinson, Cushman & Wakefield
Christopher Getz, Cushman & Wakefield
Alexander Hancock, Transwestern Real Estate Services
Neil Levy, Savills
David Lipson, Savills
Brian Raher, Cushman & Wakefield
Danny Sheridan, JLL
Brian Sullivan, JLL
Kevin Terry, GSA/Office of Portfolio Management & Real Estate/DoD CDD
Todd Valentine, Savills
Top Retail Leasing Brokers
Bradley Buslik, H&R Retail
Andrew Corno, JLL
Joseph Farina, Divaris Real Estate
Nora Foley, Rosenthal Properties
Constantine Gogos, Papadopoulos Properties
Emily Heppen, DLC Management Corp.
Thomas Jackman, JLL
Veronica Kamara, KLNB
Jake Levin, KLNB
Brian Mitchell, H&R Retail
Beth Sargent, KLNB
Matt Skalet, KLNB
Lisa Stoddard, CBRE
Shary Thur-Pecaro, Thur & Associates
Erik Ulsaker, Long & Foster Real Estate (Commercial Division)
Top Leasing Firms
Cushman & Wakefield
GSA/Office of Portfolio Management & Real Estate/DoD CDD
JBG Smith Properties
Lincoln Property Company
Transwestern Real Estate Services
Top Sales Brokers
David Baker, JLL
Walter Coker, Berkadia Commercial Mortgage
Brian Crivella, Berkadia Commercial Mortgage
Collins Ege, Eastdil Secured
Christine Espenshade, Newmark
Robert Garrish, Newmark
Robert Jenkins, JLL
Anthony Liberto, Cushman & Wakefield
Timothy McDonald, Eastdil Secured
James Meisel, JLL
David Nachison, Eastdil Secured
Matt Nicholson, JLL
Ryan Reid, Eastdil Secured
Jorge Rosa, Cushman & Wakefield
Andrew Weir, JLL
Drew White, Berkadia Commercial Mortgage
Top Sales Firms
Berkadia Commercial Mortgage
Cushman & Wakefield
Marcus & Millichap
Melnick Real Estate Advisors
SRS Real Estate Partners
Transwestern Real Estate Services
Walker & Dunlop
The New Suburban Office
As a lead broker for both Reston Town Center and downtown Columbia, Transwestern’s Alexander Hancock has an insider’s view of what employers—and their employees—want out of a suburban work experience. The days of generic office parks are, of course, long over. To entice staffers back into an office at all, says Hancock, companies are searching for vibrant environments where people can walk to shopping, lunch, and happy hour, plus access outdoor space during the workday. The proof that Reston and Columbia fit the bill, he says, is in the strong leasing activity that’s continued there even as the office market as a whole has floundered during the pandemic.
Over the past couple of years, Hancock and his team have landed several big-name tenants in Reston Town Center. In summer 2020, Microsoft grabbed 400,000 square feet at the new trophy building 2 Freedom Square. Volkswagen and Fannie Mae have also recently leased large swaths of the glassy towers called Reston Next. Starkist moved its US headquarters to Reston from Pittsburgh this year. Another strategy that the development’s landlord, Boston Properties, deployed during Covid, says Hancock, was to build out “spec suites”—a move-in-ready option ideal for companies looking to downsize to smaller, less expensive space. Hancock says he’s leased 20 of them.
After spying Hancock’s success in Reston, the Howard Hughes Corporation—the company orchestrating downtown Columbia’s massive redevelopment—hired him onto its leasing team, too. Hancock says one major draw for employers in Columbia is obvious: New office space there surrounds Merriweather Post Pavilion. On concert days, workers can hear bands warming up; on any nice day, they can enjoy the park setting.
“Companies are realizing that setting up [in locations like Reston and Columbia] gives them proximity to a large base of highly skilled workers,” says Hancock. “They’re giving them an experience in the office, and also shortening their commute from the suburbs.”
The Biggest Deal in DC
The government’s decision to move the Securities and Exchange Commission from Capitol Hill to a new headquarters in NoMa—valued at more than $1.3 billion and comprising nearly 1.3 million square feet—was far and away the largest lease of 2021. Not only that, but it’s the second-largest deal in the history of the city (behind only the Department of Transportation’s 2007 lease of nearly 1.5 million square feet in Navy Yard).
Brian Sullivan, managing director at JLL, led negotiations for Douglas Development, landlord of the SEC’s future headquarters at New York Avenue and North Capitol Street, Northeast. Neil Levy, David Lipson, and Todd Valentine, all of Savills, teamed up with Kevin Terry of the General Services Administration to represent the government.
Sullivan says he and his client knew it would be a battle to lure the SEC from its existing HQ next to Union Station, particularly to a NoMa location north of New York Avenue, farther afield than office users have traditionally gone. So they enlisted the architecture firms Gensler and HOK to create renderings of what they envisioned for the enormous site (which developer Douglas Jemal had spent nearly 20 years assembling out of individual lots). The glass-filled design included significantly fewer interior offices, meaning workers would have much better access to outdoor views and natural light. “We designed it with a little bit of a ‘wow’ effect, so when the agency saw it they’d be excited,” says Sullivan.
Even so, the deal faced many additional hurdles, including a challenge in federal court from the SEC’s current landlord. But in the end, after years of work, the new lease—which is for 15 years, with an option to extend for another decade—was finalized last September. The SEC is slated to move in 2026.
The Next Dining Destination
If you want to know what’s going on with Washington’s restaurant scene, just ask Constantine Gogos. As a longtime broker with the family-run retail-leasing firm Papadopoulos Properties, he’s become one of the first calls for restaurateurs seeking new space. While it may be tough to believe—given the area’s glut of empty storefronts—Gogos will tell you that Chevy Chase is about to become a legit dining destination. “You’re starting to get a changing of the tide,” he says.
In 2021, Gogos handled Common Plate Hospitality’s takeover of the former Anthropologie and P.F. Chang’s in Chevy Chase. The group is turning the combined roughly 10,000 square feet into the Heights Food Hall, which will feature eight food stalls, a speakeasy, and a full-service location of the Mexican restaurant Urbano (which has existing locations in Alexandria and the Mosaic district). Just across Wisconsin Avenue, at the Collection at Chevy Chase, Gogos helped the restaurateurs behind Seven Reasons and Imperfecto secure space for their forthcoming venture, Joy by Seven Reasons, a more casual version of the 14th Street fine-dining destination Seven Reasons. (He also did the Imperfecto deal for them last year.)
A bit farther east, at the Chevy Chase Lake development, Gogos represented the duo behind the beloved Shaw eatery Nina May. The pair will open an all-day seasonal American restaurant called Elena James, with an attached market. And that’s not all: Gogos recently helped them find yet another space—this one’s near Chevy Chase Circle—for a third concept, the details of which are still forthcoming.
He’s been busy with deals inside the city, too, including Lost Generation Brewery, opening soon in Eckington; Mez Mesa, a spot promising “global cuisine” and cocktails near U Street; and a Greek restaurant coming to 19th and N streets in Dupont. All the action in Chevy Chase, however, reflects a trend that Gogos—along with many other brokers—has felt since the onset of the pandemic: The suburbs have gotten hot.
The College-Town Evolution
The University of Maryland notched a big recent gain in its ongoing effort to turn College Park into one of the nation’s top college towns, thanks in large part to the work of KLNB’s Matt Skalet. One of the leasing brokers for the Aster—a $140 million mixed-use project near the southern end of campus, slated to open later this year—he has helped attract a range of new businesses that will soon arrive in the neighborhood: Crunch Fitness, Roots Natural Kitchen, and Bandit Taco, to name a few. But the most transformative tenant Skalet has landed is one that promises to draw patrons from both campus and well beyond: the first Trader Joe’s in Prince George’s County. “The goal of the Aster was to activate and energize the south side of campus,” he says. “Trader Joe’s was the ideal tenant.”
Though news of the grocer’s impending arrival was confirmed only in June, Skalet and his team began negotiations back in the spring of 2019—not a particularly easy time, you may recall, to convince retailers to commit to a new location. Despite the raging pandemic, Skalet says his clients (Bozzuto, the University of Maryland’s Terrapin Development, and Willard Retail) were able to make various modifications to the site to meet the requirements of Trader Joe’s, such as increasing the amount of parking allotted to the store. Skalet anticipates that several more retailers will commit to the Aster by the end of this summer and that the development will be 90 percent leased by fall. As for Trader Joe’s, he says the grocer intends to open in time for Thanksgiving.