Washington’s Real Estate Royalty

It was hard to miss the Post’s sprawling feature on District developer Jim Abdo in yesterday’s paper. The article, ostensibly regarding a new development deal he’s pursuing in Northeast on New York Avenue, lingers luxuriously on the finer details of his Northwest home. ( … “once home of the former ambassador from Ghana” … “assessed at $4.2 million” … Viking appliances … crab meat stacked “the way other people might stack yogurt” … ) Yes, this was a home fit for a king. Also featured prominently: his close personal friendship with DC Mayor Anthony Williams:

Today, Abdo and Williams smoke cigars together on Abdo’s patio. Abdo tried to get the mayor into fly-fishing, taking him shopping at Orvis with the mayor’s security detail in tow. The mayor, who, Abdo says, has a thing for kitchen gadgets, once persuaded Abdo to buy a set of glass bowls at Williams Sonoma. Williams goes to Abdo’s weekend farm at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia where he rides an air-conditioned tractor, cutting grass.

Abdo gets testy with the Post when they hint at accusations of name-dropping the mayor, “It’s because he’s a friend … I’m an outward, vocal person and if I see someone over the weekend I start rattling off. If that’s interpreted as name-dropping, I’m sorry.” They also note that Abdo has donated to Williams’ campaign and the mayor is godfather to Abdo’s son.

Today’s A1 story about District developer Herbert S. Miller is cast from a similar mold. Accompanied by a front-page photo of Miller enjoying a Nats game with a D.C. Council member, the Nationals President, and a D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commissioner, the story lingers on his Georgetown home (recently put on the market for a record $28 million), his “vision,” and thousands donated to local and national politicians. “To say Miller is tight with city officials is an understatement,” the Post croons, revealing DC Council member Jack Evan’s dog has “roaming privileges” to his back yard.

Of course, you too can glimpse into lives like these, if for one night. Tickets are on sale now for November’s sixth annual “Builders’ Ball” where the city’s “commercial real estate community” (emphasis mine) will gather to raise money for charity at a gala themed a “celebration of the senses.” Guests will mingle in the National Building Museum’s “opulent” surroundings amid “Four Royal Courts,” “taking time to mingle and indulge in the latest royal gossip, and catch up with friends from far and wide,” according to the press release. Of course no ball would be complete without the crowning of a King and Queen. Despite the royal trappings, there’ll be little chance for a Cinderella story here unless your fairy godmother brings some cold, hard cash: tickets to the charity ball cost $250.

Author: Rob Goodspeed