Singh has invested in hundreds of new companies in 35 countries. In April, Singh launched the $50 million Crystal Tech Fund, which invests in early stage technology companies and provides them with a collaborative work space.
“The gap now is in the middle. Where you have some revenue, whether it’s a million bucks in revenue, seven or 10 people working for you. It’s hard to raise the money you need at that gap, but it’s also hard to find office space,” Singh said. “Where do you actually put them? Because you’re too big for the co-working spaces and you’re too small to sign a lease with anybody.”
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Enter Vornado, one of the nation’s largest real estate investment trusts, with over 8 million square feet of commercial space in the Crystal City area.
“This whole area has great bones,” said Vornado’s Mitchell Schear, president of the company’s Washington, D.C., division. A stone’s throw from the nation’s capital and in engine-roar distance of Reagan National Airport, Crystal City needs only the employees to fill its modern spaces, Schear said.
“What we mean by that is the creative types, the younger types, what we call in this area the stem types: science, technology, engineering, and math,” said Schear. “With government being less active than it has been in the past, what we think is that Crystal City presents an opportunity for the future office users.”
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Not only is Vornado leasing to these new tech companies, the REIT is investing in them, partnering with Singh and others to populate a new ecosystem of employees who will not just work but, if all goes according to plan, live in Crystal City as well. Vornado is partnering with WeWork, a so-called start-up incubator, to transform a nearby office building into 250 apartments, many of them 800-square-foot “micro-units.”
“(It is) communal-style living, so that there’ll be a shared kitchen. There’ll be shared spaces, and we think that that’s something this demographic will be looking for, for sure,” said Schear.