Despite being sold in November, the Allen Lee Hotel on 23rd and F streets will continue to operate as it has for the past 100 years until late 2008.
At the end of last year, the quirky, run-down and relatively inexpensive hotel was sold to Abdo Development, a prominent D.C. construction and development company, for about $3.6 million. Jim Abdo, president of Abdo Development, said his company contracted a three-year management agreement that allows prior management to continue to run the hotel as it did under previous ownership, until Abdo can decide what to do with the property.
“This agreement gives (the prior manager) significant autonomy on the day-to-day operations,” Abdo said.
The five-story white brick building is currently closed, and former residents have temporarily moved out because the hotel will be undergoing renovations, Abdo said. Abdo said he is not sure how he will develop the building after the three-year agreement is up, but added that he could not miss out on buying the property.
“It was a great opportunity to purchase a wonderful asset and allow prior management to continue until we make a determination at the end of the contract on what direction we’d like to take,” Abdo said. “It’s a great hotel site.”
Abdo Development, started 10 years ago, has completed more than 30 projects in the D.C. area and is known for transforming historical buildings into luxurious condominiums and lofts. Abdo is working on several projects throughout the area, including in Logan Circle, Capitol Hill and Arlington, Va. Abdo Development also recently restored five historical buildings in the West End.
In the past, GW has tried to purchase the Allen Lee from its former owner to use it for campus development. In late 2003, GW Executive Vice President and Treasurer Lou Katz said the University would always be interested in buying the property because it is on a block where GW already owns buildings, including several townhouses. He said at that time, however, that GW has not made an offer since the mid-1990s.
“They know if they want to sell it they should come to us,” Katz told The Hatchet in 2003. “We have not gone to them.”
Sherry Rutherford, GW’s chief of staff in the Office of Business and Operations, said this week that GW “had not been actively pursuing the property.” Abdo said that he did not speak to GW during the process of purchasing the Allen Lee.
If Abdo does decide to change the use of the property after the three-year agreement is up, he would have to take his proposal to Foggy Bottom’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission, a local board that makes zoning recommendations to the city.
Vince Micone, chairman of the ANC, said he knows that the board has dealt with Abdo in the past, but he could not pinpoint exact projects. He said the board would gladly consider any proposal in the future.
Micone said, “We believe that any property owner can turn a piece of property into a magnificent contribution to the community.”
-Katie Rooney contributed to this report.