Watergate Hotel renovations stalled

An investment firm marketing the currently closed Watergate Hotel has plans to renovate the property and reopen it as a premier D.C. hotel, but the project is currently stalled due to conflicts over its much sought-after parking garage, an executive from the firm said.

The hotel has been closed for the past two years and is in foreclosure. At the earliest, the hotel will open in 20 months, said Marc Magazine, senior vice president of CB Richard Ellis, an investment firm marketing the hotel to potential buyers on behalf of the current owners, PB Capital.

“The fact that a complete renovation of the existing building will take place will make this the most modern, up-to-date hotel in D.C.,” Magazine said.

Despite the current real estate market, Magazine said he expects to sell the hotel for a high price because of its ideal location and strong history. Originally purchased for $86.5 million, Magazine said the developers plan to make sweeping changes so that the building will become an even more profitable property. At this point in the process, though, it is hard to estimate the exact transition cost, he said.

Stalling the renovations, however, have been arguments over the ownership of the garage complex below the Watergate, Magazine said. Watergate East is a neighboring cooperative group that owns the garage and was leasing it to Monument Realty – the previous owner of the hotel. Watergate East claims that because of the foreclosure, the lease should be canceled, the Washington Post has reported. The lease was set in the 1960s to be $12 a year for 99 years and Watergate East is now suing PB Capital over ownership of the garage, the article said.

Once this disagreement is settled, Magazine said he hopes to continue where the firm left off, selling the hotel so that renovations can begin.

Magazine said that the hotel could offer great benefits to the GW community.

“This change should be great for students,” he said. “It will be the source of jobs, amenities like food and beverage, and a great place for parents to stay.”

Junior Kerri O’Loane said that the changes might make the Watergate complex a better Foggy Bottom destination.

“It’s kind of dead there now because there’s not much going on,” she said.

Jaclyn Guinane, also a junior, said that while her parents usually stay at the Melrose Hotel when they come to visit, they might be inclined to stay at the Watergate Hotel when it opens.

“There’s just so much history in a hotel like this, and any student, and most parents, would want to be a little part of the history that was made there,” Guinane said.

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