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WASHINGTON, DC-XM Satellite Radio, one of the few technology companies based in the District, plans to acquire its headquarters building at 1500 Eckington Place NE for $34 million, says a source close to the deal. Neither XM Satellite, nor the building’s owner, a partnership of Bernstein Cos. and Union Realty Partners Inc, would comment on the deal.

The building is in an area of the city that had been known as NOMA–North of Massachusetts Avenue. A part of the grand vision of developing this area was converting old warehouse buildings, like 1500 Eckington, into new uses, particularly uses attractive for tech tenants.

XM Satellite occupies 120,000 sf in the building, while Qwest Communications operates a telecom switching station in 101,000 sf on the lower floor of 1500 Eckington.

But as the XM acquisition nears completion, it is not clear that the tech vision is still seen today.

“Tech shmeck, that whole industry is cutting back,” says developer Doug Jemal of DC-based Jemal Development Corp. Jemal also has a building in the corridor, Jemal’s Washington Gateway, a 348,356 sf space at 77 P Street NE.

Back in May, the District’s Department of Employment Services agreed to a five-year lease for 105,800 sf in the building. Jemal has been reluctant to break up the building to accommodate smaller leases.

Jemal says his company is talking with a number of potential tenants, but the Employment Department is the only resident at this point.

Not only has Jemal backed away from technology companies, but also other planned developments in the NOMA area don’t rely on private tech firms, but the old DC standby, the Federal Government. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will build its headquarters in the NOMA sector, a space at First Street and Florida Avenue NE large enough to accommodate 1,200 employees.

“The notion was to do the high tech there, because the fiber optics run along the railroad tracks,” Richard Monteilh, president of the DC Chamber of Commerce, tells GlobeSt.com. Union Station, the rail hub of the District, runs through the NOMA area.

Monteilh, who is former director of the District’s Dept. of Housing and Community Development, added that times have changed. “That was started three, four years ago, when technology companies were healthy,” he says. “I’m not sure that model is true today.”

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