Willard Goldheim, who made the switch from men's clothing to commercial real estate sales in 1966 when he was 62, insists that there's not much difference in selling Hickey-Freeman suits or real estate property.
"In either case, you are dealing with people. That's what selling is all about. You've got to know what you're selling and the people to whom you're selling it," said the former executive of Goldheim's, a family business. He sold it to Raleigh's when he lost exclusive rights to the Hickey-Freeman clothing line due to another sale.
As the result of dealing at the store with William (Billy) Shannon, then the president of Shannon & Luchs, Goldheim moved from shirts and ties to handling the sales of land parcels and shopping centers. "billy Shannon offered me a job and I took it."
Although he has handled negotiations for a number of sizable transactions during his second career in commercial real estate, Goldheim got a special kick out of a recent downtown property assemblage that resulted in a total $6 million in sales of 14 individual properties.
"They're all on the east side of 11th Street NW between D and E," he said. "How did I do it? First, I talked to the owner of a key corner property and told him that I thought I could sell it. Of course, I knew some developers were interested. One in particular. Well, a year's work later I had sold all of the old, run-down properties except one (a holdout) to developer David Evans."
What's the key to putting together a large site for a new building?
"There are no secrets," Goldheim replied. "I knew what Evans was interested in other properties after he bought the first corner property (11th and E) from E. Fulton (Bud) Brylawski. So I went about contacting the other owners and getting negotiations in progress. It really gets down to letting buyer and seller get together to eyeball one another and then being tenacious while also being patient."
Due to his maturity and diplomacy, Goldheim doesn't moan -- at least not for quotation -- about his inability to get that one small parcel (1,800 square feet) in the middle of the block. Nor does he have anything to say for quotation about another development team putting together the other side of the block (the west side of 10th Street between D and E).
Now it seems likely that developer Evans will get together with a triumvirate of other interests headed by Stuart Bernstein, John Mason and Richard Cohen, to develop the entire block as an entity.
Because the block comes under the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corp., it is likely that any unacquired parcels will be taken under the PADC's right of eminent domain. Of course, the plans for any major structure on the land, which is zoned C-5 and has a 160-foot height limit, will have to be approved by the PADC.
Goldheim senses that the half of the block he brokered for Shannon & Luchs was "really ripe for redevelopment. It's a lot of small stores and eating places on shortterm leases. The buildings are old and nondescript. Only the value of the land (about $150 a square foot in the recent transactions) is an issue. Five years ago you couldn't have sold them by $50 a square foot."
This site on the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue is just west of the new FBI building and just east of a new office building that Cabot, Cabot & Forbs has started as the likely new home of Covington & Burling. The site also is adjacent to the Old Post Office Building, which is being redone and to the new convention center to the northeast and the Willard Hotel and National Theater projects. CAPTION: Picture, Willard Goldheim in front of the northeast corner of 11th and D. Sts. NW, the location of property that was sold for a total of $6 million through his efforts. By John McDonnell -- The Washington Post