Tuesday, March 09, 2010

West End Marriott Coming Soon, Maybe...

In the heart of the George Washington/West End neighborhood, a Marriott Courtyard Hotel could soon replace a parking garage, sandwiching a new nine-story building between offices and residences on an already crowded block. Designed by WDG Architecture and developed by Allstate Hotel Partnership, the project received original approval in 2006, but has since faced a lawsuit from an unhappy ANC chair and, of course, an extended finance drought. Recent efforts to obtain a general contractor, however, suggest the project team is gearing up to begin construction in the near future. But then again, maybe not.

The 125,000 s.f. hotel will bring upwards of 150 suites to the GW neighborhood. Project Architect/ Manager at WDG, Nelson Lobo, said the hotel is "a very urban project, unlike other Courtyards...it's not a little three-story building in the middle of nowhere." The building has a "contemporary design," added Lobo, and "fits in with the GW area."

That's not what many a Foggy Bottom neighbor thought during the zoning process. The ANC and other Foggy Bottom civic organizations opposed the development, expressing concerns about the increased traffic and the likelihood of blocked streets during construction. After the project received zoning approval in 2006, Dorothy Miller, an ANC Chair and active member of the Foggy Bottom civic community, filed a suit in the D.C. Court of Appeals against the Board of Zoning Adjustment's (BZA) approval of the hotel plan. The suit halted any planned progress on the hotel despite its completed review. But in May 2008, the Court sided with the BZA.

The win for the developers started the two-year clock given to developers during which they must take clear steps to execute the planned development, by starting demolition and construction. Coming up on that two-year mark, the development team either needs to get digging or head back for a zoning extension. The group is currently deciding on a general contractor, but architect Lobo said right now the timeline depends on the financing. "It might happen in the next four months, it might happen in the next three years," Lobo said with little certainty. Our money is on the developers seeking an extension to their approved plans.

For now, neighbors can continue to enjoy the lovely 420-car parking garage with the knowledge that the Marriott's future is uncertain.

Washington, DC real estate and development news


Anonymous said...

Dorothy Miller opposes any and all progress in the Foggy Bottom Neighborhood. I have lived here for over 11 years during which time she has vehemently opposed EVERY SINGLE development project, retail tenant, master plan, and anything else that would cause any change to occur to the Foggy Bottom neighborhood. This woman contributes NOTHING to the Foggy Bottom neighborhood apart from perpetuating vitriol among the neighbors, GW, the city, retail tenants and others who are interested in seeing Foggy Bottom thrive. This is a woman who opposed Trader Joes in a neighborhood without a reasonably accessible grocery store. As it happens, the Trader Joes in the West End is the highest revenue generating Trader Joes in the country. Does this tell you anything about the need for a grocery store in Foggy Bottom Ms. Miller? Enter 2008. The District government negotiates a development agreement with Eastbanc to redevelop the West End Library site into a mixed-use project with, you guessed it, neighborhood serving retail, and (GASP) maybe even Whole Foods! God forbid! After all, Whole Foods did nothing for Logan Circle...apart from GENTRIFYING THE ENTIRE NEIGHBORHOOD, creating jobs, increasing property values, and cleaning up the crime on the streets. But once again Ms. Miller felt it an imperative to stop this project dead in its tracks at a time in which financing was readily available, the project could have got off the ground, and the residents of Foggy Bottom could be shopping at their new Whole Foods or dining at one of the neighborhood cafes that was contemplated by this time. Instead, she chose to force the Council to rescind the land disposition legislation and in doing so, drag Jack Evans through the mud further imperiling any hopes of redevelopment of the West End Library site for the foreseeable future. I don't use the library, but I am sure the people who do would like to have a new facility. I am also quite sure that the residents of the neighboring buildings would prefer to look out upon a nice new building than the eyesore that exists there today. I am all for following due process, and fully endorse the preservation of public assets, but sometimes we must rationally weigh the costs and benefits of allowing a vocal minority to stand in the way of progress.

IMGoph on Mar 9, 2010, 11:32:00 PM said...


Erwin said...

Every neighborhood's got one, and they each think they are saving the planet by freezing development. Its a condemnation of our system that a single person can stop a fully vetted, city approved project. Total institutional failure here; other cities don't allow such nonsense.

Dorothy Miller on Mar 10, 2010, 11:29:00 AM said...

Well, I feel dumb now.

Mikaela on Mar 10, 2010, 12:49:00 PM said...

Do we really need another hotel?

Anonymous said...

When you do a story like this, would it be too difficult to list the address or set of cross streets, so the rest of us who might not be as familiar with every block of that neighborhood might know where you are talking about? Also, last time I checked, this was the FOGGY BOTTOM/West End neighborhood, not the GWU/West End neighborhood.

Shaun on Mar 11, 2010, 3:15:00 PM said...

Anonymous @1:31 PM Click on the orange DC image and you'll find a lovely map with the exact location of the project.

LongTimeRez said...


You need to get out more. And you need to get your facts straight before you launch your next tirade.

Dorothy Miller returned to her hometown in July of 2009, but she could still sue you for defamation.

Dorothy was completely supportive of the community's efforts to work with developer Trammell-Crow to develop the Columbia Condo project and to bring Trader Joe's into the project. The city had nothing to do with that project other than holding up T-C at the Historic Preservation Review Board for over nine hearings.

Mrs. Miller was not involved with the West End Library blowup either. Jack Evans brought that on himself by behaving inappropriately and trying to gift one of his biggest political supporters with millions of dollars in public land. Much like he did at the West End Ritz Carlton development with the same developer.

GWU is bringing a grocery to its extravaganza across from the Metro on 23rd Street--Eastbanc never proposed a grocery at the WE Library site (one block east of TJ's) and is hesitant to put one in now.

The Marriott project--which is not anywhere near the West End; it's in the 500 block of 20th Street NW--was opposed by Ms. Miller at the behest of neighbors (the ANC voted unanimously to oppose it), because she was the only person with standing to appeal after the BZA rubber-stamped the application.

The community discovered only recently that the person Chairing the BZA at the time of the Allstates/Marriott case neglected to reveal that he was a business partner (and should have recused himself) with the brother of one of the applicants.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous on Dorothy Miller may have had the facts a little off but overall is accurate that she was well known for her zealous protection of the neighborhood and opposition to many things development. And, as the story goes the one time she did support something, which was the Columbia Hospital redevelopment and Trader Joe's, was when the Foggy Bottom Association was written a nice check by the developer to the tune of a few million bucks. Hey I'd support it too.


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