No Sale At The Watergate
Washington D.C.'s Watergate Hotel was left high and dry on Tuesday as a public auction failed to attract a successful bid. The 10 bidders who came to the auction each with $1 million certified checks were told they would have to pay at least the $25 million floor set by the bank. No one was willing to go that high and so the lender PB Capital made a $25 million credit bid for the property. The hotel was facing foreclosure after Washington developer Monument Realty defaulted on a $70 million loan. Monument bought the hotel five years ago and it has been closed ever since. Initially the developer planned to cash in on the real estate craze by turning it into luxury co-op apartments. Last year it decided to keep it as a hotel. Lehman Brothers was also a partner and equity investor in the property. Now with the auction result, some are wondering what will happen to the 251-room hotel famous for its involvement in the scandal that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.
The Washington Post reports that all hope may not be lost though, there are a couple of developers interested in making offers on the hotel in a private sale. PB Capital plans to market the hotel to interested buyers. Erstwhile owner Monument Realty would still like to work with new investors to push on with the company's plan to restore the property to a five-star hotel. The Watergate still needs substantial renovations which could total as much as $100 million. Monument principal Michael Darby has indicated that one reason to keep his company involved is that Monument knows the property intimately while any new owners would be starting from scratch. The Post article also says that Virginia-based developer Robert Holland is talking with Dubai-based luxury hotel chain, Jumeirah, about operating the Watergate. It would likely take a great deal of money to bring the hotel up to Jumeirah standards.