Syracuse University Magazine


Anthony Noble '99

Developing DC's Future

For more than 20 years, Washington, D.C.-based real estate developers and politicians have discussed decking over the end portion of the city’s Interstate 395 for development. Otherwise known as the Center Leg Freeway, it runs underneath the National Mall and ends in Northwest D.C. When it opened in 1973, it was planned to continue through the entire city. That never happened, and though the air rights above the depressed Center Leg Freeway have long been eyed as a prime development location, progress stalled, largely “because no one ever figured out all the necessary approvals,” says Anthony Noble, development manager at Property Group Partners, which holds development rights on the site. Those approvals are particularly onerous and complex because they involve air rights. “We think we’ve now figured that out and we have a great team of people and partners (neighbors, government agencies, and consultants) working to make this project a reality,” he says.

Since 2008, Noble has managed the entitlement phase of the project, working with federal and local governments to secure a complex set of zoning rights, monitoring the environmental review process, negotiating with neighboring land owners and groups concerned about adverse impacts, and working with architects, engineers, and leasing agents. He expects his firm to close on the property this spring and begin construction shortly thereafter.

The billion-dollar-plus project consists of seven buildings that will total two million square feet of office space and 200,000 square feet of residential space, making it one of the capital’s largest development projects and certainly one of the most complicated. If all goes according to plan, the decking above the Center Leg Freeway is anticipated to start in spring 2013 with the entire construction taking about five years. “It’s unique to have a development of this size as one of your first projects,” Noble says.

Unique perhaps, but Noble couldn’t be more perfectly suited for the role. A native of Washington, he majored in economics and political science at Syracuse University before earning a Master in Public Administration degree from Princeton and then a law degree with a business concentration at the University of Pennsylvania. That background allows him to maneuver the complex policy and legal issues that transect the project. “It’s rare to have your education as an undergraduate, in grad school, and law school all come together on a daily basis,” says Noble, who was working in the real estate department of a D.C. law firm when he was approached by one of the firm’s clients about his current position. “My education has provided me with an opportunity to have a small impact on the city’s landscape.”

As an undergraduate, Noble imagined himself making his mark in government, rather than the Washington skyline. “I figured I’d come back and work in government or politics and thought economics and political science would provide a good background,” he says.

But what he really learned at Syracuse was to expand his expectations and possibilities. Bolstered by such mentors as former SU administrators Irma Almirall-Padamsee and Barry Wells, Noble stretched outside his comfort zone to make the most of his SU experience. He studied abroad in both Prague, Czech Republic, and in Strasbourg, France, where he interned with the Council on Europe. That experience earned him an invitation to a summer program at University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy, which led to his desire to earn an M.P.A. “The more I studied public affairs and public policy, it was hard to do that in isolation and not consider the legal aspects of policy making,” he says. “I wanted to learn more about the law and business.”

Noble’s Ivy League experience, where alumni involvement is customary, led him back to Syracuse. “I felt like I owed Syracuse a lot because it allowed me to become comfortable choosing my own adventure,” he says.

Today, he serves both on Syracuse’s Washington, D.C., Regional Council as well as on the College of Arts and Sciences Board of Visitors. In addition to those official capacities, he enjoys mentoring SU students and young alumni charting their own course. “There’s a natural connection,” he says. “Having lots of mentors at Syracuse helped me tremendously, and I’m happy to help someone out in the same way if I can.”            —Renee Gearhart Levy

arial-view.jpgThis aerial view shows the Center Leg Freeway area of Washington, D.C., that is the focus of the Property Group Partners project headed by Anthony Noble '99. Below is an image of the project.