A worker welds on a steel beam at the site of the future City CenterDC complex. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

by Jonathan O'Connell

Financial columnist Steven Pearlstein doesn’t often wade into local real estate discussions, but it’s always a treat when he does. In his piece yesterday, Pearlstein admires the progress of CityCenter DC, the Marriott Marquis convention center hotel and NoMa.

Pearlstein has long been a skeptic that downtown could again evolve into a place where people actually lived and spent time beyond weekday office hours. That skepticism takes a healthy step back in this column, in which he writes that, “Young and not-so-young professionals not only want to live in or near the city center, they are insisting on it, even if they have to reverse commute out to jobs in the suburbs.”

Pearlstein also reports that the law firm Arnold & Porter is considering a relocation to CityCenter from 555 12th Street NW, which would give developer Hines and its partners the high-end anchor tenant they have long sought. After a phone call from yours truly, an Arnold & Porter spokeswoman declined to comment on the company’s lease situation. I’ve heard previously that the firm needs between 350,000 and 375,000 square feet should it leave 12th Street.

Pearlstein also digs up some information on the major financier of the Marriott Marquis convention center hotel, namely that the money is from Abu Dhabi. That, coupled with the large equity stake that Qatar took in CityCenter, prompted Pearlstein to call downtown, “something of little OPEC colony here in the middle of Washington.”