Shapiro, Lifschitz & Schram

“We are a small company and they treat us more important than the large firms do – we don’t get lost in their shuffle.”

Reid Liffmann – Partner, Greenebaum & Rose

Alexis Lockshin on CREW EDU’S April building tour: Georgetown University's “Downtown Campus”

On Thursday, April 10th, the CREW (Commercial Women in Real Estate) committee on which I serve organized and hosted an informative evening featuring Georgetown University’s recently completed “Downtown campus” located at 640 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, in DC’s East End neighborhood.  Attendees learned about the development from key players intimately involved in the project, including:

Jodi Ernst – Georgetown University (End User)

Stephanie Heffernan – Cassidy Turley (Leasing Agent)

John Landry – Brookfield Properties (Owner)

Brian Pilot – STUDIOS Architecture (Architect)

Matthew Weirich – DAVIS Construction (Contractor) 

The dynamic panel examined how the primary stakeholders created a sense of trust and transparency to communicate and reach common goals.  Attendees heard about the challenges and victories that came with building such a unique higher education facility, in a non-traditional educational building and neighborhood.  We learned about the history of Georgetown’s search for the right space for the school and the path to get to where it is today.  

In particular, Georgetown’s Jodi Ernst delved into the details of getting the school’s decision makers on board with the location (i.e., the idea of not being at – or near –37th and O Streets, NW).  Jodi also explained how the expansion complemented the school’s mission of educating students to be self-reflective, critical thinkers committed to serving others.  Cassidy Turley’s Stephanie Heffernan told the story of the two-year long search for the right space for the school and how the team ultimately secured the 91,000 square foot lease at 640 Massachusetts Avenue.  Stephanie noted that the main driver behind selecting the location was always the Campus Plan (i.e., Georgetown’s commitment to the city to move 1,100 grad students out of Georgetown – the 20007 zip code – by 2014).  John Landry from Brookfield Properties described how the building’s location was a key driver for the attractiveness of the space and discussed why the school was a good fit as the new tenant for the space.  Brian Pilot from Studios Architecture explained the design process that went into creating the state-of-the-art space – one that re-imagines the educational experience for today’s students, faculty, staff, alumni and community leaders.  Brian also discussed the facility’s unique environment for students and faculty to collaborate and learn.  The space features 30 classrooms with integrated technology, 14 group study rooms, a 125-person auditorium, digital media lab and broadcast studio, interfaith chapel, library, bookstore, café and multiple functional lounge spaces. 

To conclude the panel portion of the evening, DAVIS Construction’s Matthew Weirich highlighted the complexity of completing construction in ten short months (see timeline and some photos below) in order to be ready to open for the fall 2013 semester.  Matt also discussed the challenges of building on such a tight spot (in the middle of the city) and how the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) as the main construction delivery tool helped to deliver the project on time and under budget.

The insightful evening concluded with a tour of Georgetown’s attractive, and highly-functional, new space.  As a side note, I took classes in this building during the final semester of my Georgetown master in real estate program and, as a student, I can attest to the fact that the space is amazing!  

See the transformation of Georgetown’s new space from construction to completion in a great 1-minute video at


Did You Know . . .

Members of the SLS trial group have tried in excess of 50 jury trials and 75 bench trials?

The SLS construction group has worked on sports stadiums across the country including Orioles Park in Baltimore and Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati?

The SLS construction group has worked on power plant projects across the country?

In 2007 SLS was selected for an Honorable Mention as one of the Best Places To Work in Washington DC?

Ron Shapiro, Steve Schram and Judd Lifschitz have all been selected as SuperLawyers by Law and Politics?

The SLS office building is an historic townhouse constructed in the late 1800s?

SLS has been selected by Martindale-Hubbell as a Preeminent Law Firm?

SLS trial lawyers have argued appeals in the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal for the 4th, 5th, 9th, D.C. and Federal Circuit?

SLS trial lawyers have been lead trial counsel in cases in Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, and Virginia, - to name just a few?

Virtually all the cases that SLS trial lawyers mediated have been favorably settled at mediation?

The transactional group at SLS was lead counsel on one of the largest, most complex mixed-use projects in downtown Washington, DC involving 4 lenders and 6 property owners?

In appreciation for the outstanding efforts of each of its employees during 2007, SLS gave everyone (attorneys, paralegals, and staff) a 4 day/3 night expense paid trip to Key West, Florida?

The transactional group at SLS has represented tenants in more than 200 retail leases in the Mid-Atlantic region?

Every attorney in the transactional group at SLS has at least 15 years experience?

The transactional group at SLS has represented developers in the purchase, construction, financing and/or sale of more than 75 multi-family apartment projects?

The transactional group at SLS has represented real estate investors and developers with respect to property in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Michigan and the U.S. Virginia Islands?

Attorneys in the transactional group at SLS have represented eight national banks in commercial real estate loans?

Attorneys in the transactional group at SLS have represented the FDIC, the Resolution Trust Corporation and several banking institutions in loan workout transactions throughout the Mid-Atlantic region?

The transactional group at SLS has represented homebuilders and commercial real estate developers in work-outs of individual loans and also for work-outs of large portfolios involving dozens of properties in several states?

The trial lawyers of SLS have numerous reported decisions to their credit?