Thursday, December 10, 2009

Monument Back at the Helm at Watergate?

Monument Realty appears to be seeking contractors for renovation and construction on the Watergate, suggesting the DC developer may be closer to a work-out on the property it lost to the bank earlier this year. Lender PB Capital Corp foreclosed on the famed hotel this past July, and held an unsuccessful auction, with none of the 10 bidders jumping at the $25m starting bid. Since then, there has been no confirmed word on the fate of the historic structure overlooking the Potomac River. In an interview with DCMud following the auction attempt, Monument's Principal and Co-Founder Michael Darby indicated he had raised the necessary funds to buy back the property, but later accounts suggest the bank turned down the developer, possibly hoping to get a sweeter deal with Holland Development, which was rumored to have been interested in the property.

An industry source says Monument is seeking contractors for a "top to bottom renovation of the existing 13-story, 250-room hotel. Renovations will include reducing the number of rooms, while expanding the rooms that do remain to 650 s.f." The project costs are estimated at $20 million. When DCMud inquired about Monument's plans, Natasha Stancill, spokesperson for Monument, responded "we are going to pass on commenting." Which of course increased our suspicion.

Further supporting a rekindling of the romance between bank and borrower is the fact that Holland now appears to be out of contention. In a statement to this journal, Memphis Holland of Holland Development confirmed that Holland is now just watching the action. "The Watergate Hotel is a complex and exciting project. We were just one of a myriad interested in contributing to the growth and development of the Virginia Avenue/Kennedy Center area. We look forward to watching as this development takes shape and becomes a vibrant center of activity," said Holland.

Nor will the former architect be part of the redevelopment effort. "Hickok Cole Architects is not going to be working on the Watergate Project if and/or when the project restarts. I would suggest that you speak with Michael Darby at Monument." said Jeff Lockwood of Hickok Cole Architects. Thanks, tried that.

Original plans for the building were to convert the 250 rooms into an 96-unit coop, but Monument reportedly sold only 11 of the high-end units, which started at $850,000 for a one-bedroom home - and that wasn't for the good view.

Washington D.C. real estate development news


Anonymous said...

good scoop...

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