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Boston Firm to Buy Equity Buildings Here

By Dana Hedgpeth and Michael Rosenwald
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, February 12, 2007

Blackstone Group of New York is planning to sell the Washington portfolio formerly owned by Chicago-based Equity Office Properties Trust, one of the nation's largest landlords, sources close to the deal said.

Blackstone closed the deal to buy Equity Office last week after a bidding war and agreed to sell its properties in the Seattle and D.C. areas to Beacon Capital Partners, a Boston fund, for $6.5 billion. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal is not final. It was reported earlier in the New York Times.

The Washington area portfolio includes 6 million square feet and includes some of Reston Town Center, the Polk & Taylor buildings in Crystal City, the Army & Navy Club building on I Street NW and Market Square, a 680,000-square-foot office building on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Alex McCallum, a spokesman for Beacon Capital Partners, declined to comment.

Blackstone also sold some properties in New York and is looking to sell parts of the Equity Office portfolio in Oregon and California.

Opus East has reached a deal to build the school a new dorm to accommodate sharp increases in undergraduate enrollment, in what could be the start of a wave of new construction at Catholic University.

The new dorm will be built in the northeast corner of campus in a Gothic style befitting the design of nearby buildings. The dorm could be the first of several new student residences in the area, freeing up space on Catholic University's south campus for a potential mixed-use development in the District's Brookland neighborhood. Dorms currently on the south campus would be torn down to make way for a project.

Catholic University, which is being advised by the Staubach Co., is seeking proposals for the space from developers for projects that could include residential and retail components.

Victor Nakas, a university spokesman, said using about nine acres on the south campus for development would bring in money to the school and give Brookland residents more amenities.

The university doesn't expect to choose a developer until the spring or summer, Nakas said.

The new residence hall will house about 400 students on the west side of John McCormack Road NE. Opus East said the dorm will have a landscaped plaza and modern suites. More than 30 firms competed for the project.

Marriott International bought two acres at Crystal Drive and Potomac Avenue in Crystal City for an undisclosed price from Meridian Group of Bethesda. Marriott said it plans to develop on the site two hotels, a Renaissance and a Residence Inn, totaling 625 rooms. The hotel is part of a mixed-use project at Potomac Yard.

Dana Hedgpeth writes about economic development and commercial real estate. Her e-mail address ishedgpethd@washpost.com.

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