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12-Story Hotel Planned To Rise Above Historic Chinatown Buildings

A strip of historic retail properties in D.C.'s bustling Chinatown neighborhood have been tapped for redevelopment. 

A rendering of the hotel project Acumen Cos. has planned on H Street NW between Fifth and Sixth streets in Chinatown
A rendering of the hotel project Acumen Cos. has planned on H Street NW between Fifth and Sixth streets in Chinatown.

Abiud Zerubabel, founder of D.C.-based Acumen Cos., is planning a 12-story hotel project on a row of properties he has assembled on H Street NW between Fifth and Sixth streets, Bisnow can first report.

The developer said he is under contract to acquire four adjacent properties that are currently occupied by retailers Golden Nails, Threads, Focus Travel Agency and Full Kee restaurant. The properties are owned by the Moy family

Acumen has presented plans to the Historic Preservation Office, and Zerubabel said he hopes the Historic Preservation Review Board will take up the project in January. He is also considering going to the Board of Zoning Adjustments for minor requests. The developer is working with Fillat+ Architecture on the project's design. 

The 500 block of H Street NE, where Acumen is planning its hotel project
The 500 block of H Street NW, where Acumen is planning its hotel project

Zerubabel said the existing retailers have leases that will expire soon, and he does not have agreements in place to bring any of them back to the new project. He said the development will have 110 feet of H Street frontage, and he hopes to bring in food and beverage retailers. 

"The spot is great for restaurants," Zerubabel said. "We may have a smaller coffee shop, a restaurant, a bar, maybe a speak-easy, and a bar on the rooftop."

The site's proximity to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and Capital One Arena makes it ideal for a hotel, Zerubabel said. Micro-hotel concept Pod DC opened one block west in 2017, but the Pod flag will soon be replaced by Hilton's new micro-hotel brand, Motto. 

The Pod concept could work for Acumen's new hotel project, Zerubabel said, but he is looking to talk with a wide range of brands to determine the best fit. He said it could be anywhere from a micro-hotel brand with small rooms to a more traditional, select-service hotel to an extended-stay model with larger rooms.

"Our goal is to bring in a vibrant, cool brand that doesn't have a presence in the Chinatown area or in D.C. at all, and we think we'll do that," Zerubabel said.

Acumen Cos. Chairman Abiud Zerubabel
Acumen Cos. Chairman Abiud Zerubabel

The developer said the hotel could have anywhere from 105 to 220 rooms depending on the room sizes of the brand he brings in. As for parking, he said he is considering renting space from a nearby office building garage and providing a valet service. But he expects the walkable, transit-oriented location will draw a customer base not reliant on cars. 

The project will be the first hotel from Acumen Cos. The fast-growing development company has built over 1M SF in the D.C. area, including 500K SF in the last two years. It is also currently working on a 75-unit condo building in Downtown Bethesda and a 32-unit condo project near H Street NE. 

"We're continuing to grow into a new product type," Zerubabel said. "We've been very successful in the millennial multifamily condo product, and we want to translate that into the hotel product type."