On Assignment…


Moving south from the Vornado-dominated portion of Crystal City (in fairness, there are other property owners in the area, but none with nearly as many holdings), one runs smack dab into a vacant stretch of undeveloped land. This land is right next to Washington Airport, right across from the nation’s Capitol. It is prime real estate (don’t worry about airplane noise: planes don’t pass over the area, and there’s more noise in Old Town Alexandria than there is in Crystal City), and in a few years it will go from looking like this:

National Gateway site

…to this:

National Gateway artist's conception

…this being a mixed-use complex including condos, retail space and offices. There are more than a few companies behind this development–this excellent Web site, Emporis.com (“We index the world”) tells us that the companies involved in the project are Crescent Resources, LLC, Oculus, and Christopher Consultants, Ltd.

Let’s focus on the Crescent Resources LLC for the moment. The firm is a huge real estate developer founded by Duke Energy; a search of Open Secrets for “Crescent Resources” shows that, from 2001 to the present, its employees and their family members have contributed $41,600 to federal candidates and committees.

Searching the balky Senate Office of Public Records site, we find that currently it does not have a Washington lobbyist; it was last represented by the firm of Powell Goldstein LLP until January 30, 2003. According to the filings, Crescent’s area of interest was “General Services Administration prospectuses before Congress,” and Powell Goldstein contacted GSA (that’s the federal agency that, among other things, manages the goverment’s office space) and the Environmental Protection Agency. Curious, I Googled “EPA GSA Crescent Crystal City” and found this July 9, 2004, story (which is actually a press release from the GSA):

In one of the Washington area’s largest commercial lease transactions over the past several years, the General Services Administration’s National Capital Region (NCR) has signed two leases totaling 405,177 rentable square feet for the Environmental Protection Agency at One and Two Potomac Yard in Arlington.

Crescent Potomac Yard Development, an affiliate of Crescent Resources, owns the buildings and the 300-acre Potomac Yard site just south of Crystal City.

The EPA offices will be part of a transit-oriented, mixed-use community combining homes, stores, hotels and office buildings with more than 92 acres of open space.

The leasing of One and Two Potomac Yard is expected to jump-start the development of this former railroad yard spanning Arlington County and Alexandria.

The key sentence, it seems to me, is the last one: The federal government’s leases will “jump-start the development of this former railroad yard spanning Arlington County and Alexandria.”

So, to review, we started with a $3.3 million earmark for a dedicated bus route and bicycle path connecting Crystal City with Potomac Yard. So far, we’ve found a firm that owns a lot of real estate rented by the federal government and another that owns a lot of real estate it hopes to rent to the federal government.