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D.C. makes a statement at RECon retail show

(Excerpts from two posts on The Post's new Capital Business Blog)

LAS VEGAS -- The convention center hall at International Council of Shopping Centers is filled with booths - for brokers, property owners, retailers and municipalities.

D.C., through its contractor, the Washington D.C. Economic Partnership, is one of the largest public players, putting many - if not all - the other cities in attendance to shame in terms of both size and sophistication. The 2,400-square-foot booth has four private meeting rooms where Deputy Mayor Valerie Santos began taking meetings starting 2:00 Sunday and where Mayor Adrian Fenty has a full slate of meetings planned beginning Monday morning. There is a flatscreen television playing marketing materials for D.C. developments, a computer terminal with a touch screen that allows users to "explore" various neighborhoods and a poster-sized image of nearly every one of the city's top developments.

D.C. hasn't always had such a presence here. Richard Bradley, executive director of the Downtown Business Improvement District, remembers the first visit at the start of Mayor Anthony Williams' tenure. "We basically had a card table way upstairs somewhere with a few other cities. It was hardly a presence. The first reception was in a sort of conference meeting room. There were 36 people there," he said. "35 of which I think worked there."

Read the full entry at The Post's new Capital Business Blog.

--- --- ---

The combination of the real estate crowd with the political one [at the Arent Fox LLP reception] felt like a home-away-from-home campaign fundraiser, and - true enough - Fenty found time after stopping at the Arent Fox event to actually hold a re-election campaign fundraiser at the ARIA Hotel & Casino at CityCenter.

Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) said the city had made important contact with Target, Best Buy, Safeway and Costco in Las Vegas during his years here, and he recalled going in a previous year with developer Douglas Jemal and former Council member Carol Schwartz to visit the Madame Tussauds Las Vegas wax museum. D.C. later created a subsidy to attract Madame Tussauds to a Douglas property in Penn Quarter. "It has benefited the District enormously to have these connections," he said. He counted only himself and Council member Muriel Bower (D-Ward 4) in attendance, out of the body's 13 members.

In an interesting contrast, Council member Kwame Brown (D-At large), who chairs the economic development committee, opted not to come while his opponent in his campaign for council chairman, Vincent Orange, did. Brown said via phone Sunday afternoon that he was working on budget details. "It's kind of hard to really engage the residents and the business community on these issues from Vegas," he said.

Read the full entry at The Post's new Capital Business Blog.

-- By Jonathan O'Connell

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  May 24, 2010; 2:48 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council , Economic Development , Mayor Fenty  
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