Early Briefing: No Deal, New Deal

* A developer who offered to buy an entire neighborhood near downtown Bethesda has dropped his plans, saying that homeowner holdouts, reluctant county officials and a weakening real estate market made it impractical to pursue his plan.

Jeffrey Neal of Monument Realty told Sacks residents he was ending his efforts to buy the 60-home neighborhood of single-family brick homes in Chevy Chase, near the Bethesda Metro station. Neal had wanted to tear down the houses on the 12-acre parcel and build high-rise apartments and other buildings. See story.

* Varsity Group, a Fairfax firm that once had ambitions of becoming the Amazon.com for the textbook set, agreed to sell itself to Follett Corp. for $3.8 million. Follett is one of the nation's largest providers of library materials and technologies to elementary and secondary schools, an operator of college bookstores and a distributor of textbooks. See story.

Laurie A. Miller, a Nixon Peabody partner, plays chief judge in the firm's annual cook-off. The competition has helped build camaraderie among all departments, the firm says, attracting partners and paralegals alike. (By Bonnie S. Benwick -- The Washington Post)

* Nixon Peabody puts it chefs on trial in an annual men v. women cooking competition aimed at stirring a little comaraderie at the 216-person DC firm. The men win this time around. See story.

What does your company do to get the competitive juices flowing? Here in the Business section we humbly consider ourselves to be Guitar Hero gods. Of course, there was a foosball tournament in our distant past in which we let the boss win. But that was a fluke.

By Dan Beyers  |  February 26, 2008; 7:11 AM ET
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