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This blog focuses on real estate, land use and construction-related topics affecting Virginia and the Washington, D.C. metro area. With topics ranging from contract drafting and negotiation to local and regional land use project updates, the attorneys at Bean, Kinney & Korman provide timely insight and commentary on the issues affecting owners, builders, developers, contractors, subcontractors and other players in the industry. If you are interested in having us cover a specific topic, please let us know.

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Posts from July 2010.

It has been widely reported that Northrop Grumman has chosen a building located in the Fairview Park area of Fairfax County to relocate approximately 300 employees from Los Angeles. Certainly this decision bodes well for the Northern Virginia region as a whole, as proximity to Washington, D.C., the Pentagon and the Northern Virginia technology centers offers many advantages. In recent years, other corporate giants such as Hilton, CSC, and Volkswagen of America have all relocated to Northern Virginia. After deciding on Virginia instead of Maryland, Northrop Grumman focused on sites in Arlington and Fairfax Counties before ultimately selecting the Fairview Park property. State and local government incentive programs were considerable.

Frequent readers will know that we have talked about Chinese drywall litigation and issues quite a bit here.  One of the ugliest cases was a builder who proactively repaired drywall issues having its initial complaint against its insurers who did not provide a defense thrown out on motion to dismiss.  The court originally found that the complaint failed to state a claim because the builder had not been sued and in essence the builder voluntarily made repair efforts in violation of the insurance policies.

Happily for Dragas, the court gave it leave to amend and it did so, alleging more facts regarding the threats of claims by home owners.  Dragas' claim has now officially survived a motion to dismiss.  While this is far from a victory, it does provide a bit of comfort to builders that they are not simply stuck with no path forward for coverage unless sued. 

Common sense and good policy certainly suggest that builders should be encouraged to solve problems rather than let them fester and worsen in the hope that they eventually get sued and an insurance policy is triggered.  Virginia law, however, is driven by contract and statutory interpretation rather than equitable consideration of good policy by courts.  Insurance coverage on construction projects is highly complex and poorly understood.  Look forward to us engaging in further discussion of this important issue moving forward.

July 20, 2010
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Topics Green

ABC-VA HeadquartersAssociated Builders & Contractors Virginia Chapter (ABC-VA) has officially opened its quite impressive new headquarters location.  The building project was managed by J.J. McCarthy as owner's representative, head of its green building committee.  The project featured numerous ABC member contractors and design professionals, including BE&K Building Group as general contractor and Morgan Gick McBeath & Associates, P.C. as architects.

as slow as molassesA recent blog post at ENR reviewed recent reports on the spending of transportation related stimulus funding.  The post analyzed a report by the House Transporation and Infrastructure Committee detailing where all the states stand on stimulus spending.  Readers may recall that back in March we discussed Virginia's lagging in spending its stimulus dollars.

Simply stated, the lagging definitely continues. While I generally avoid editorializing and engaging in much opining here as opposed to reporting and analyzing, this topic truly deserves a rant.

July 12, 2010
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Part II – Review of your Form Purchase Agreement

In this Part II, we continue our review of some important items to review in your form purchase and sale agreements.

I attended the meeting last Wednesday night regarding the impact of Arlington County's Community Energy Plan on the Arlington development community, held by the County's lead consultant, Peter Garforth, of Garforth International, Jay Fissette, the Chairman of the Arlington County Board, and numerous industry representatives.  I initially blogged about this several months ago (see the post "From Ad Hoc Incentives to a Comprehensive Community Energy Plan") when the Arlington Community Energy and Sustainability Task Force began to develop a forty year energy plan for Arlington County.  It is now unofficially official that the end goal of the task force is to create a new, additional component to the County's Comprehensive Plan to be implemented during the various local land use/special exception processes.  It will therefore have major impacts on the development and capital projects industries, as well as a number of utility companies.

Viet Nam signing peace accordsLaw and negotiation go hand in hand and understanding the psychology surrounding negotiation is critical to successfully representing clients.  I have long been fascinated by the wrangling of the parties over the shape of the table in discussions to negotiate the end of the Viet Nam war.  As stated eloquently in Time Magazine:

For ten weeks of often absurd haggling, the parties in Paris—the U.S., South Viet Nam, North Viet Nam and the National Liberation Front—have argued about whether the table at which to discuss a settlement of the Viet Nam war should be square, oblong, rectangular, oval or any number of imaginative mutations. Last week, after studying nearly two dozen designs, the negotiators at last agreed on the shape of the table: it will be round. A few days later, they sat down as a group for the first time to get on with the deadly serious business of seeking a peace settlement.