MONUMENT CONSIDERING HOTEL "HYBRID" AT WATERGATE
In a potentially dramatic change of plans that shows why they have a reputation as nimble and successful, Monument Realty co-founders Jeff Neal and Michael Darby tell us that the hotel market now seems so strong, especially compared to condos, they are thinking of switching from all-condo to 1/3 condo and 2/3 ultra-luxury hotel. They would seek to make fundamental changes in the existing hotel so it would compete at the level of the Four Seasons, and are in discussions with several “very high end international boutique management companies.” They hope to make a decision in the next 30 days but say “the door is not closed to other management companies.” It would not be a Ritz Carlton, since there are already four in the region, but could be something like a Raffles, Waldorf Astoria, or Conrad. They would enlarge the size of rooms and reduce them in number, calculating that optimum economics suggests 180-200 rooms, down from the current 250. They have already engaged a specialized hotel architect and other industry consultants.
In their offices on Connecticut Avenue yesterday are, from left, Monument co-heads Michael Darby and Jeff Neal, with head of leasing Doug Olson. We here at Bisnow always enjoy our field trips to Monument because they have the best “after dinner mints” in slick “M” wrappers on the receptionist’s desk that we surreptitiously stuff into our pockets. Now, back to more headlines:
"W" HOTEL AT THE BALLPARK?
Meanwhile, adjacent to the new baseball stadium, Monument started pre-permit site work last week, with official groundbreaking slated for January 16. Its first phase of construction will include 275k SF office, 200k hotel, 400k residential, and 80k retail. At the moment, it’s all on the east side of Half Street between M & N, which Jeff predicts will be “the most desirable and sought after” area of the city in five years, and not just during the 81 home games. It will be designed for pedestrians, without curbs; and Monument is in discussions with a sleek new hotel – rumored to be the “W.” Leasing head Doug Olson says it will be a cross between Times Square and Camden Yard’s Eutaw Street, and that there is nothing currently in Washington to compare.
Even allowing for the fact this is a promotional rendering, it looks pretty darn cool. An all-star team of Davis Carter Scott is doing their commercial design, Shalom Baranes the residential, and Gensler the retail and streetscape. Monument is planning 1000 residential units ultimately, out of 5000 in the area, and with the planned Herb Miller 13-story towers nixed in favor of much lower level parking structures, Jeff says the Monument buildings have now gone from being “nearly the front door” of the stadium to being the “front, front” door. On December 20, Monument closed on the air rights above the Metro and committed to doubling the capacity of the station, which will be another source of the area’s life. They’d love to see a museum or aquarium located nearby. They hope to be done with the first phase in 24 months, after the end of the first season. Maybe in time to host the World Series.
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