Thursday, November 15, 2012

In This Months Business Monthly

I first began writing a column in The Business Monthly in the very first issue back in the earlier nineties. We were in the midst of an earlier recession and that first column focused on the changed landscape of HoCo loco commercial development. Almost everyone in the business was handing at least one of their properties back to a lender. For the up and comer developers like Peter Issel, Chris Kurz, Pete McGill and Fred Glassberg, the down turn took them down.

That’s what I should have written this month.

Instead I banged out a pretty weak effort at the absolute latest deadline of deadlines. I wrote about how next year, 2013, nothing much is going to happen except building towards 2014. 2014 is when everything happens: Whole Foods, the Metropolitan, Mall expansion and the gubernatorial election.

I’m not proud of it.

A better story would have included some historical perspective like the story of the office building that the county government owns in Columbia Gateway, 6751 Columbia Gateway Drive. It was built by Peter Issel in 1990 when the Gateway Corporate Park was the hottest business campus between DC and Baltimore.

And then, just as the building was completed, that no longer meant anything. Even a great building in a great location is powerless against a retrenching economy. That’s the greatest risk in the development business and a highly leveraged developer doesn't stand a chance when financing constricts.

And perhaps that would help create some appreciation for the exposure that at least at five developers are now taking on as they begin the creation of a real Columbia downtown. They have the right product and location but other forces, beyond their control, could alter their outcomes. I might have even thrown in something about another term limited county exec back in the nineties who had gubernatorial aspirations .

Unfortunately, that’s not the column I wrote. Now that I've warned you, if you still care to, you can find this month’s column here.
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