Watergate Hotel developers to seek feedback

Developers for the Watergate Hotel are planning a posh makeover for the aging structure, including redesigning its ballroom and expanding the restaurant.

The hotel portion of the District landmark has passed through the hands of multiple management companies since it closed in 2007. Euro Capital Properties Inc. bought the space for $45 million in May 2010, pledging to revive and restore its iconic reputation.

Jacques Cohen, president of Euro Capital Properties, projected the remodeling effort will cost about $70 million, with an April 2013 reopening goal. He said those estimates are not final, as the company is still hashing out plans.

The group plans to add more rooms to the 251-room hotel to reach anywhere from 306 to 350 rooms, he said.

“We couldn’t be a luxury hotel if we didn’t have more rooms,” he said.

The company will present its proposal Wednesday to the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission, a local advocacy group, to gain approval before finalizing designs.

“We are really looking to recreate the Watergate Hotel in a way that it will get back to its splendor and its original name,” Cohen said.

The company’s portfolio includes luxury hotels like D.C.’s Hamilton Crowne Plaza and the Hilton Arc de Triomphe Paris.

Advisory Neighborhood commissioners said they have high hopes for the hotel’s reopening and its potential impact on the complex that some have written off as a ghost building.

“I think it would be wonderful if the hotel reopened,” Armando Irizarry, who represents the Watergate complex area on the commission and serves as its vice chair, said. “It would bring more customers to the Watergate commercial area, which would support the businesses there.”

Alumnus and commissioner Asher Corson said Cohen’s team has done a terrific job garnering community support for the redevelopment effort, a move Cohen said is a top priority because locals will be the customers dining, drinking and hosting parties and weddings at the hotel.

“If they are successful, it could be one of the things that could help to turn around the entire Watergate retail area,” alumnus and commissioner Asher Corson said.

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