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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.

The Virginia Supreme Court recently gave us yet another example of a breach of contract case that couldn’t rise to a fraud in the inducement claim in Station #2, LLC v. Lynch, et al., Record No. 091410.

In Station #2, the Lynches owned a three-story building in the City of Roanoke. They sold the top two floors to 237 Granby LLC in order to convert the floors to condos. The Lynches then leased the ground floor to Station #2 so it could operate a restaurant with live music and other entertainment. The lease between the Lynches and Station #2 required Station #2 to install soundproofing material in the void space between Station #2’s ceiling and the lower level of 237 Granby’s condos. 237 Granby’s agent agreed to allow Station #2 access to the void space, but the company hired by the agent to renovate and develop the condos closed off the void space before Station #2 could soundproof.

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.

The Arlington County Board will be deciding whether to approve a series of amendments to Arlington's Comprehensive Plan relating to Crystal City at their hearing at the end of September, after several years of evaluation on how best to react to the loss of approximately 17,000 jobs and over 4 million square feet of occupied office space due to the recommendations of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC).  Specifically, the County Board will decide whether to adopt the new Crystal City Sector Plan 2050, and modify the General Land Use Plan and the Master Transportation Plan.

With Long Bridge Park and the Pentagon to the north, the airport and the river to the east, Aurora Highlands and Pentagon City to the west and Alexandria/Potomac Yards to the South, existing metro and VRE access, Crystal City seems well poised to make a comeback.  Here is an exhibit showing Crystal City's existing conditions.  The plan specifically outlines which sites are expected to be redeveloped, which sites have potential for redevelopment, and which sites are expected to remain for the life of the plan (click here for the comparison). Much like the Tyson's Corner Plan, Crystal City's 260 acres are broken up into proposed "districts" (shown here), including the Northwest Gateway, Northeast Gateway, Central Business, Entertainment, South End and West Side Districts, each with their own respective district-level focus.

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.

In the recent case of TC MidAtlantic Development, Inc. v. Commonwealth of Virginia, Record No. 091271, the Virginia Supreme Court was faced with the issue of properly pleading compliance with conditions precedent in a public contract. Despite the tongue-twisting nature of this issue, the crux of the case came down to simple timing.

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.