Upgrades planned for Watergate office building

by Danielle Telson

Developers are hoping to begin renovations on the Watergate office building in an effort to restore the structure.
Media Credit: Ashely Lucas | Hatchet Photographer
Developers are hoping to begin renovations on the Watergate office building in an effort to restore the structure.

The property management group for the Watergate office building is planning a facelift to make the historic structure’s aging façade more welcoming.

Penzance officials plan to swap the concrete slabs along the building’s walls with glass panels and raise the canopy over the entrance.

The addition of ground-level strips of lights will illuminate columns that were part of the original architecture for the office at 2600 Virginia Ave., one of the five structures that form the Watergate Complex, along with three apartment buildings and a hotel.

Penzance senior adviser Peter Greenwald said the designs are in the early conceptual stages and will evolve as the group fleshes out the plans.

A specific timeline has not been set, but the renovations are projected to begin later this year. Justin Johnson, project manager from Penzance, called cost estimates too early to disclose.

“These are concepts at this point. They are design ideas. We like them. They may evolve further, but we wanted to share them with you,” Greenwald said at a Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting last Wednesday.

The goal of the project is to “restore the Watergate to its glory days,” he said, by making the building more appealing from the street view.

Local residents have in recent years said the complex is in a slow decline that some feared would escalate after the shutdown of the Watergate Safeway last December. Nearly 1,300 Watergate and local residents petitioned then to keep the supermarket, considered an anchor for other shops in the complex.

The Watergate Hotel, shuttered in 2007, is also undergoing renovations and is estimated to reopen its doors in spring 2013 after a $70 million makeover.


Jacques Cohen, president of Euro Capital Properties – the hotel’s developer – said that project is underway and once completed, will offer two restaurants and bars, 355 luxury rooms and suites and a 7,000 square foot ballroom.

“It will be a great luxury destination property, minutes walk from Georgetown and the heart of K Street, best views in town,” he said.

The ANC drafted a resolution in support of the office building upgrades Wednesday night. Penzance still must bring the plans to the Historic Preservation Review Board and the Commission of Fine Arts for approval because the Watergate is marked as a historic building.

Armando Irizarry, ANC secretary and the Watergate’s representative on the commission, said the external changes to the office building would help the building as a whole by breathing life into the property.

“It’s a good first step and we want to support their efforts. Hopefully those improvements will result in more interest in the building,” he said.

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