Reports Legal Elite

Real Estate/Land Use

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Mark C. Looney

Cooley LLP

Title: Partner
Birthplace: Front Royal
Education: James Madison University, bachelor’s degree; George Mason University, law degree
Spouse: Andrea
Children: Jake, 8; Kendall, almost 4
Hobbies or pastimes: Cycling and running.  I also spend as much time as I can boating and fishing with my kids at our lake place.   
First job as a lawyer: Right after law school, I spent a week as an associate at McGuireWoods before a group of us left to start the real estate practice in Cooley’s Reston office.  I may be the shortest-tenured associate ever at that firm. 
Fan of: Washington Nationals.  I’ve attended some great wins, including Jordan Zimmermann’s no-hitter and several Ryan Zimmerman walk-off homers.  I’ve also witnessed some soul-crushing playoff defeats. 
Favorite vacation spot: St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
Recently read book: “Grant” by Jean Edward Smith; “An Army at Dawn” by Rick Atkinson
Career mentors: Tony Calabrese at Cooley, who taught me how to provide good client service, and Todd Stottlemyer, who taught me how to be a professional young man in a room full of grown-ups. 

Has activity in the Virginia commercial real estate market returned to prerecession levels?
Not really.  The multifamily rental market is strong, but there remains a significant drag on the office market outside of key submarkets.  Part of the reason is a change in the way office space is used — less square footage per employee and more demand for amenities — and part of it reflects a continuing slowdown in spending by the federal government. 

What trends are you seeing in real estate law?
Rather than adopt new zoning regulations, local governments more and more are using policy documents, particularly local comprehensive plans, to expand the scope of topics on which they can regulate.  They adopt and apply new plan policies directed at whatever is the issue of the day, such as green buildings or stormwater management, with which zoning applicants must then comply.  It’s allowed local governments to bypass having to seek General Assembly approval to regulate issues they otherwise might not be allowed to address.

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