The Owner Of The Watergate Building Hopes To Acquire Trump's D.C. Hotel
Less than three months after The Trump Organization began marketing its D.C. hotel for sale, a potential buyer, with a history of acquiring buildings tinged with presidential scandal, has emerged.
Friedman Capital founder Brian Friedman, who is also managing partner of Foxhall Partners, told The Washington Post he is bidding to acquire the hotel's ground lease. He said he hopes to change the Trump International Hotel's brand to another luxury flag, such as a Waldorf Astoria or Rosewood.
Friedman in September acquired the Watergate Office Building — infamous for the break-in that eventually led to an impeachment inquiry and President Richard Nixon's resignation — for $101.5M. Foxhall Partners owns multiple D.C. hotels, including the Line Hotel in Adams Morgan.
The Trump Organization retained JLL in October to seek buyers for the hotel, and The Wall Street Journal reported it is hoping to sell it for more than $500M. Friedman told the Post he thinks the $500M price tag is unrealistic, in part because the buyer would only acquire the long-term ground lease, not the property itself.
A JLL marketing brochure revealed the hotel experienced around 57% occupancy last year, and it claimed occupancy was lower than competing properties because the Trump Organization refused to solicit business from foreign governments, CNN reported. The brochure highlighted the potential to increase business with foreign governments as a key selling point for the hotel.
The hotel has done business with foreign governments and President Donald Trump has benefited financially from the business, the Post reported. Multiple lawsuits have been filed alleging Trump is violating the Constitution's emoluments clause by accepting foreign payments at the hotel.
The 263-room hotel, a renovation of the historic Old Post Office building, opened in 2016, two months before Trump was elected president. The Trump Organization has control of the property through 2103 under a ground lease with the federal government. The General Services Administration would need to approve any transfer of the ground lease.