Lofts at The Yards prove an easy sale


August 26, 2012

Forest City Washington has rented out its first 170 loft apartments at The Yards, near Nationals Park, at the fastest pace in the history of the Cleveland-based parent company, according to the firm’s president, Deborah Ratner Salzberg.

The rental units, priced between $2,000 and $5,000 a month, are the first of more than 2,800 apartments planned for the historical area, where naval ships were once repaired, outfitted and armed.

Tom Henneberry, the company’s chief operating officer, said the uniqueness of the lofts — not to mention the 5,000 or so Transportation Department employees across the street — helped account for the quick sale.

“It’s high ceilings and adaptive re-use of some historic buildings, with great views of the Anacostia River and park,” Henneberry said.

It’s just the beginning, however. The next step is to open restaurants in “the boilermaker shops,” which was where the Navy once built munitions and boilers and other stuff for the ships.

The company had begun construction on the $60 million loft complex in 2008, but paused when credit markets froze. Now business at the 42-acre development is picking up.

After a tour of The Yards last week, Salzberg and The Buzz walked along the new riverwalk to the ballpark, where we watched the D.C. team thrash the Atlanta Braves while noshing on fajitas and hot dogs.

Salzberg’s husband, local businessman Michael Salzberg, who owns a Rockville-based heating, ventilation and plumbing company called Salco Mechanical, said he had seen a slowdown in July and August.

“If not for multi-unit residential, business would be much worse,” he said.

Bring me a deal

Herndon-based Surefire Social, run by two former colleagues at AOL — Chris Marentis and Ron Peele — have bought BringMeMyLeads, based in Indianapolis, for an undisclosed amount.

SureFire helps local businesses generate leads by designing their Web sites, coaching them on the intricacies of search engines and social media.

“The play is that we are adding talent and capabilities to get us set for the next stage of growth for our company,” said Marentis, who is in discussions with several investment groups for expansion capital.

Surefire has more than 20 employees and the combined companies expect to gross more than $4 million in the fiscal year starting next month, Marentis said.

BringMeMyLeads was founded by George Faerber, who started 25 years ago with a home improvement business that was so successful at developing business leads — about 30 percent of its revenue came from Internet contacts — that his buddies asked him for help. That’s when he started BringMeMyLeads.

Faerber will join Surefire Social as an investor and adviser, and he is bringing three other staff members.

The Buzz hears

Our friends at Tin Cup, the golf ball stencil start-up in Falls Church, are expanding. Cabell Fooshe tells us the company is now in more than 1,000 stores, with a presence in the United Kingdom and Canada, as well as the United States. Sales are predicted to be $1.6 billion to $1.8 million for 2012. The company has added Marine Corps cups and expanded its lineup of colleges, with American University, the University of Maryland, the U.S. Naval Academy and the University of Virginia among the choices.

World Learning, a leadership training company with work in more than 60 countries, expanded its footprint at 1015 15th St. NW — owned by BlackRock Realty — to 34,000 square feet. Glenn Meltzer, president of District-based Ezra Co., represented World Learning in the 9,063-square-foot expansion. Meltzer has been with Ezra since 1985.

Kid connection

Raul Fernandez is one of a group of investors that has put $1 million into AtSite, the L Street NW Washington firm that helps buildings become more energy efficient.

“I like it because it’s at the intersection of energy and technology,” said Fernandez, who is vice chairman of Monumental Sports & Entertainment in addition to his day job as founder and chairman of ObjectVideo, a Reston-based developer of video analytics software for security surveillance.

AtSite, which was founded in 1993 by Davor Kapelina, has 42 employees and is profitable. Its local clients include such big names as Adventist Heath Care.

“We will continue to invest in the staff in both new hires and in training, and we will use some of that funding to buy new technology,” Kapelina said.

Fernandez, who is special adviser to General Atlantic Partners, said he and Kapelina met through their children, who go to school together.

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade.
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