Greetings from Stehekin, WA: Chevy Chase Pavilion (CCP) and or #exlog 88 brings back many sweet memories. I was the General Manager at the Pavilion and worked directly for the Donohoe Companies and later with Gerald D. Hines as they took over the project. Also I documented most of the CCP preplanning development work prior to the Grand Opening from our temporary Donohoe hi-rise leasing and development offices across the street, so one could readily witness CCP under construction and coming to fruition. The project was also closely coordinated with the WMATA, with whom we negotiated an access agreement to the Friendship Heights Metro station and then receiving the necessary 'Air-Right' permitting. I do not think that any other company would have been able to bring the Chevy Chase Pavilion forward like Donohoe and with their already then existing sterling reputation in DC and MD and how they conducted their business. I worked for many companies in my rather illustrious career but Donohoe always maintained to be a true standout in this regard. Bert Donohoe actually stayed on after the CCP opening and joined our mall-management team and which I greatly appreciated, besides Bert becoming a good friend.
We had a great start and with many advance, high-quality and lucrative lease agreements being signed with Microsoft a lead tenant in our office tower and then the very first 'Cheesecake Factory' restaurant location on the East Coast. Thus our goal in consolidating high-end retail and office space users in the Chevy Chase/Friendship Heights area was well on its way.
I then met Olivia Newton John who with her music albums had already sold an estimated 100 million records worldwide. Olivia wanted to open with us her first US store and exclusive clothing line called Koala Blue. I now remember one of our luncheons when Olivia talked about her connection with Helmut Newton her divinely decadent German photographer and meeting him at the Chateau Marmont in LA. Koala Blue never did well despite the many long distance phone calls we had together about the reality and conditions of her CCP store and as Olivia essentially kept on dropping her continued interest in her fashion business investments.
Then there was Dawn Bennett in her matte black vintage Carrera aviator sunglasses and her carefully applied make-up, wanting to open a retail luxury sports apparel business. Then using her success in finance and her ‘Ivy-League’ Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania education, to follow her true passion and launching a career in fashion at CCP. Opening a high-end boutique called DJ Bennett specializing in luxury athletic wear and equipment with such brands as Ghurka, Louis Vuitton and Beretta. “People want luxury and the best of the best,” said Dawn and even single girls like me want to have fun. At the height of her career as a financial adviser, Bennett then managed as much as $350 million in customer assets, earning her ‘millions of dollars annually in commissions.
The Chevy Chase team was deeply impressed and Dawn after all was a local gal of great success and owned a multi-million dollar plus luxury penthouse condo suite at the venerable Somerset House on Wisconsin Avenue with Saks Fifth Avenue and Gucci directly across street and a 4-minute walk to the Chevy Chase Pavilion. What was there not to like? But Dawn is now sitting in a Federal Penitentiary on a $20-million ‘Ponzi-Scheme’ charge. FBI Agent Keith Custer one of the raiding agents found in her Penthouse a vast collection of designer shoes including her extravagant taste for the likes of Manolo Blahnic and Tom Ford. All for a look that was meant to be seen and to be experienced. What can I say? But at least Dawn had excellent and extravagant taste while it lasted and she was an absolute delight to be with. I every so often wonder who is coming to visit her now at the Chesapeake all 'white-collar crime' Detention Facility? What did I get out of this: "From what I can remember it was a shower of her Chanel N°5 fragrance and a tasting her slightly overdone Princess Marcella Borghese foundation!
Following came Gordon Liddy walking through the doors at our CCP management offices. Turned out he was a 'lifelong' friend of my Director of Security. Gordon was quite accomplished. He was an American lawyer, FBI agent, talk show host and a shadowy key-figure in the Watergate scandal as a chief operative for the White House during the Nixon administration. At age 29, Liddy became the youngest Bureau Supervisor at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. A protégé of deputy director Cartha DeLoach and became part of Director J. Edgar Hoover's personal staff and became his ghostwriter. Gordon turned out to be a frequent lucheon guest at CCP!
Indeed D.C was all about connections and power and there was hardly anyone in power that Gordon did not know personally or at least had read their dossier. Yes there were a bevy of remembrances and with his appointment later spearheading the narcotics and gun control department at the United States Department of the Treasury's headquarters in Washington, D.C. The good news: A commutation made Gorden eligible for parole and he was released only after serving a total of four and a half years of incarceration. Yes Gordon still had and maintained many friends in high places.
It appears that CCP is now in good hands with the 'Clarion Partners' with their $63-billion in total management assets and over 500 institutional investors. But I was gravely disappointed to see that “Clarions Grand Reopening” was only allowed a puny $32 million renovation budget given what was really needed to be done at CCP. Most of us saw the Clarion renovation as a simple window-dressing exercise and no more! On the flipside we already in the much earlier days had considerable unsolved problems with the Food Court and the Embassy Suites never making any money. The parking garage layout and function maintained to be the bane of our existence and was deemed basically unfixable. Unfortunately all of these issues still exist today!
Even though Clarion may be the best thing right now for CCP, it appears however that David Gilbert and Jeb Belford at the Clarion offices on Park Avenue in NYC are waiting for others in making any further moves on Wisconsin Avenue. Perhaps Jerry Speyer the ‘exceedingly brash’ and forward NYC developer and with his newly acquired toy called the Mazza Gallerie, which is located directly across the street from CCP, may very well set a new tone for the area? But knowing Jerry personally from way back in Berlin at his Sony project on the Alexanderplatz, I would not count on him being creative and now being 'The Man in the High Castle' at Mazza!
I now vividly recall my last day at CCP and after having “Sliders” at the Cheesecake Factory. Paul Witt my then Assistant General Manager seeing me off in the garage and a final knock on the hood of my car. Once on the Beltway my preset Hot 99.5 DC radio station was playing ”Have You Never Been Mellow” by Olivia Newton John, another very eerie at the time and totally unexpected very last send-off message.
Placing a Starbucks kiosk and their oversized seating requirements directly into our 11-story atrium was a big deal for us and resulted in many heated discussions. After all it was only a coffee shop! Many of us wanted Starbucks to go into our Food Court as an "in-line anchor" tenant, but leasing at the time was not doing well and we needed to show results. So Starbucks got lucky even though we all knew that this was not the right thing to do and physically taking away and or architecturally violating our coveted atrium area.
The Clarion $32-million renovation dollars for the ‘Grand Reopening’ of CCP were hard to see as the new architectural details were sparse at best and hardly discernable by many of our guests unless pointed out! Simply the $32-million dollars were seen by many as a 'Drop in the Bucket' versus what the property actually needed and required. But the so-called ‘Grand Reopening Event’ was accompanied by proffering a satisfyingly chunky invitation and which cost over $80 a piece to making an impression. Especially to reintroducing the property with a party invitation sleeve made from 'finger-pleasing fabric' to surely delight the targeted crème de la crème and the others. The Event: Tuxedos, live music, champaign running in serenity and hugs and kisses on the cheeks running rampant! I wished Dawn Bennett would have been there so that I could be engulfed again with her charm, her splendid company and another shower of her perfume and rubbing her foundation across my cheeks!
Dawn Bennett at work at her ‘Bennett Group Financial Services’ a registered investment advisory firm located in her luxury penthouse office at the Somerset House. Managing over $350-million of investor financial assets. Dawn came with excellent credentials and previously having worked for Legg Mason and Smith Barney in Washington. Little that everyone knew at the time was that Dawn already then misappropriated over $3-5 million to buy cars, clothes, jewelry, the Somerset Penthouse and other personal items.
Dawn at home. The Somerset House at 5600 Wisconsin Ave, Chevy Chase, MD and within the safety of a gated community. A Penthouse condo-suite at the time could be owned for $2 million dollars plus.
Olivia Newton John on her album 'Soul Kiss' released in 1985. A topless blond dominatrix stares invitingly into a mirror, her breasts obscured by a strategically placed scarf. She's was a study in the complex theater of the female persona, offset by the strictness of her white jodhpurs and the riding whip she holds behind her back. Olivia in her later years always thought that a resurgence of really strong but not masculine woman was necessary and initially was steadfast that her “mirrored photo” taken by the legendary Helmut Newton would go onto the front cover of the Soul album. But Marketing in the end won out and published the photo on the back cover.
Gordon Liddy, a tough former FBI agent who helped orchestrate the 1972 Watergate break-in, a crime that began the unraveling of Richard Nixon's presidency. With a ramrod-straight posture and trademark, Liddy was known for his bravado. He remained unapologetic about his crime and told The New York Times he would do it again if asked. He also was proud about not cooperating with the Grand Jury while denouncing those who had. He drove a Corvette and a Rolls Royce with a license plate that said that said "H20-GATE”.