The Watergate Hotel has fallen on hard times. Things may begin to look up a bit after Tuesday.
"Eighty percent of the rooms have water views, and they're not great -- they're spectacular."
Most likely on Tuesday the bank holding the mortgage will buy the Watergate Hotel -- part of an office-apartment-hotel complex built in 1967 that is on the National Register of Historic Places -- and then hopefully the bank can negotiate a sale to a private buyer.
From The Washington Post:
The Watergate Hotel lost its luster years ago, its marble floors, rich colors and grand interiors dusted over with age. Its 251 rooms have stood empty since 2007, and for a year its debt-ridden owners have been trying to unload it. On Tuesday, the national landmark may find its suitor.
The bank holding the $40 million loan is putting the foreclosed property up for auction . . . .
Washington's 26,000-room hotel market has remained relatively stable during the recession, but the prospect of a new owner promises to return one of the nation's most famous pieces of real estate to prominence.
Many in Washington consider it a trophy property no matter what.
But some facts might give pause to anyone thinking about snapping up the empty 12-story hotel across from the Kennedy Center where the Watergate burglars slept before they broke into the adjoining office complex in 1972, setting off the scandal that brought down President Richard M. Nixon.
It has been neglected for years and needs $100 million in renovations just to make it habitable, developers familiar with the Watergate say. Monument Reality, which bought it for $45 million in 2004, has not paid the hotel's property taxes since last year, which translates to at least $250,000 the city will collect at a sale.
Even as a vacant building, the tab for security, electricity, heat, emergency systems, insurance and other expenses comes to $100,000 to $150,000 a month.
Monument closed it in 2007 to prepare for its conversion into a luxury hotel.
Lehman Brothers, its financing partner, went bankrupt last year.
Even if someone were to grab the place for a mere $20 million or $30 million, who can get $100 million in financing to restore the building in today's jittery capital markets?
In years past, foreign investors would have been the most likely buyers for such a high-profile property.
The Watergate's residential neighbors recall the beautiful browns and yellows that adorned the interior, the marble floors, the painting of Queen Elizabeth that greeted guests as they entered the elevators, the restaurants with old-fashioned furnishings.
"I miss the light that the Watergate provided," said Bill Diedrich, a Watergate East resident. "It's a light that should be re-lit."
Although the glamour of the hotel has long since faded, many say the spirit of the Watergate Hotel remains.
"It will always be first-class," said Dorothy Franklin, 75, one of the first Watergate residents to live in the complex when it originally opened, "because, after all, it's historical."