Monday, October 24, 2011

West End Hilton Garden Inn Seeks Modifications This Week

This Thursday, the joint venture between Perseus Realty, Starwood Capital, and OTO Development, "PerStar M Street LLC," will visit the Zoning Commission with its request to modify the PUD zoning application for its West End hotel site, a now-empty parcel at 2201 M Street once occupied by the Nigerian Embassy. The 15,600-s.f. area is currently visualized by developers as a Hilton Garden Inn, a vision that replaces an earlier, sustainable, "eco-luxury" 1 Hotel.

The change in brand, from a 1 Hotel to a Garden Inn, comes with several zoning changes: a redesign of the exterior fa├žades; an increase in the number of rooms, from 170 to 238; a minor increase in density, from 122,235 g.s.f to 124,564 g.s.f. (7.84 to 7.99 FAR); a small reduction in height by 3' to approximately 107'; and 11 additional parking spaces (increased from 42 to 53) in a valet-operated garage.

The Hilton Garden Inn, although not "eco-luxury," aims to become LEED-Silver certified; the Garden Inn is being designed by Shalom Baranes, who replaced the architect of the 1 Hotel, Oppenheim.

The neighborhood ANC was disappointed in the change from the 1 Hotel to a new plan and new flag; ANC 2A Chair, Rebecca Coder, emailed the following: "While the West End didn't need another hotel, the fact that the 1 was a unique concept made it palatable." Coder added that the ANC is hopeful that the concerns articulated by residents, related to the design and desire for unique retail, will be considered by developers.

The current version of the PUD, which accommodates the scrapped 1 Hotel plan for the site, was approved in June of 2008, and the buildings at 22nd and M Streets, NW – the Nigerian Embassy and Asia Nora – were razed in February of 2009 in anticipation of the project's start, which never happened.

In March of 2010, the PUD application was given a two-year time extension, due to "difficulties with financing based upon changes in economic and market conditions beyond the applicant's control;" a report by the Office of Planning in support of the time extension stated that Perseus Realty contacted 40-plus lenders unwilling to provide financing, citing the general decline in the hotel market and the negative growth in revenue generated by existing hotel rooms.

The construction extension requires that a building permit application be filed by June of 2012, however, from that time, a full year is given before construction must be underway – "no later than June 27th, 2013" – which means that although Robert Cohen, president of Perseus, said in August that the development team's goal is to begin construction in June of 2012, there is no pressure from the District to begin next year, and still another hurdle awaits – construction financing.

The Office of Zoning explained that the upcoming hearing, on Thursday the 27th, to review zoning request, may or may not result in proposed action by the Zoning Commission: "It’s possible that the Commission could take proposed action at the end of the hearing and then it would be referred to NCPC for a 30-day comment period before final action could be taken. If they don’t take proposed action at the end of the hearing, then the next step would be for it to be placed on one of the scheduled meeting agendas for decision."

In August, Neil Jacobs, president of SH Group, Starwood's luxury hotel brand management company, stated the reason for the brand change was that, "With a 1 Hotel we were limited in the number of rooms we could get onto the site. We didn't want to compromise the brand, and commercially [the Garden Inn] is a better choice."

OTO Development came on as a partner after the decision was made, in the fall of 2010, to desert the 1 Hotel in favor of a more affordable Garden Inn.

The Hilton Garden Inn will contain a 5,000-s.f. restaurant offering seasonal sidewalk seating, and if all goes well with the upcoming PUD change process, and ability to secure construction financing, developers aim to deliver the hotel and restaurant by the summer of 2014.

Washington D.C. real estate development news


Anonymous said...

Wow. I remember the original design, which was extraordinary. This one is really. . . ordinary.

Anonymous said...

They should go back to the original design or scap this altogether. The neighborhood simply does not need a Hilton Garden Inn.

Mr. Other Upper NW on Oct 24, 2011, 5:08:00 PM said...

I'd argue that the city doesn't need another hotel, period--luxury or not. The city's hotel market is on the verge of becoming completely saturated.

Anonymous said...

The reality is that if the "city did not need another hotel," it would not be a hotel. The fact that it is a hotel, is indicative of the strong hotel market as evidenced by the strong occupancy and average daily room rate by the neighboring hotels. Further, yes, it sure would be great to build a super expensive building, according to the original design. But, it is hard to make that expensive of a building pencil, especially when you are required to provide costly perks to the neighborhoods and the city tries to add its input on the design as well...not to mention the financing market is still difficult for hotels.

Anonymous said...

This design sucks and so did the last one. It's like having Steve Jobs designing your home, not everything needs to be "cool". Some things should be designed to be loved in fiftey years rather than titilate NOW!

Anonymous said...

that steve jobs crack was so rehearsed. you're an idiot. if you think it sucks, then at least articulate a better argument.

Anonymous said...

If that Steve Jobs crack was so dumb, why did you bother calling the commentator an idiot? And what do you mean by "rehearsed", could you articulate?

Anonymous said...

My heart is broken. I loved the old concept and would have really liked to visit for lunch or something. I just got back from Canyon Ranch in Miami and it was so relaxing just to step in the building. It would be really nice to have something that's a little innovative and appealing instead of the same old humdrum and boring in this city...

Anonymous said...

Why does it seem there are 2 architecure firms working in this city?? Could that be the reason I am nodding off whilst I type this..zzzz

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