By Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 12, 2006; D04
Shareholders of CarrAmerica Realty Corp., a District-based developer that owns or controls 26 office buildings in the area, approved a $5.6 billion deal yesterday to sell the company to a privately held affiliate of New York-based Blackstone Group LP.
CarrAmerica said owners represented at the meeting voted nearly all of their shares in favor of the sale. The company said it expects the merger to close this week.
"It's a day of mixed emotions," Thomas A. Carr, chief executive of CarrAmerica, said just before the vote. "It's a big transition for the company, and any transition is hard. . . . We're going from being public to private ownership, and there's a lot of things that will change in people's lives -- for employees and shareholders."
CarrAmerica traces its roots to the 1950s when Oliver T. Carr Jr. started building houses in Montgomery County. The company, which has about 600 employees, owns or has a majority interest in almost 300 office properties in 12 metropolitan markets in the United States. Many of the company's properties are on the West Coast, though it remains prominent in the Washington area and employs 300 people here.
Blackstone is paying $44.75 a share, in case. in cash per share. Shares closed yesterday at $44.71, down 2 cents.
Executives at CarrAmerica and Blackstone have said the real estate investment trust will remain headquartered in the District, but they have not said what the sale will mean for employees.
In a ballroom at the Willard InterContinental Hotel yesterday, about 60 employees, board members and longtime shareholders recalled how Carr had built its real estate portfolio as they munched on ham sandwiches with the crusts neatly trimmed and mini tarts topped with blueberries and strawberries.
"I'm disappointed in a way," said shareholder Fred King, an 84-year-old retired computer programmer for NASA. "I liked the idea of it being local, and I could see its signs around on buildings."
King and his 88-year-old wife, Doris, traveled almost two hours yesterday for the meeting, driving from their home in Solomons Island to the Branch Avenue Metro station for the ride into the city.
As the meeting ended, King said farewell to Thomas Carr, adding that he and his wife had to hurry back to the assisted-living facility that is their home. "It's Hawaiian night."