Herman Cain brings building owner unwanted attention


The National Restaurant Association building in Northwest Washington, where Herman Cain allegedly sexually harassed women while he was president of the association. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Not all of it wanted.

Last month Akridge and First Potomac Realty Trust bought 1200 17th Street NW, a 47-year-old office building that is across the street from National Geographic. It is the headquarters for the National Restaurant Association, a group that seemed innocuous enough until just after the Akridge team bought it, when it became the target of video cameras from many a major news organization due to allegations that Herman Cain sexually harassed women there when he was president of the association.

Akridge spokeswoman Lisa Steen said the company began receiving calls from the property’s managers about how to handle camera crews that wanted to shoot the building. Akridge President Matt Klein said the developers had opted against hanging signs on the building, something they would normally do to advertise the coming replacement to potential tenants. “We don’t want to be the backdrop for those news stories,” he said.

Another Akridge project may be more deserving of press. In Bethesda, Akridge and Rockwood Capital bought 7550 Wisconsin Avenue, an empty office building, from the federal government and is gutting and redeveloping it. The project has entered the tax rolls for Montgomery County after being vacant for a decade and is creating a slew of jobs for Clark Construction and its subcontractors — something the General Services Administration says it would like to do all over the country with the sale of excess real estate.

Akridge’s Bethesda project is still one of the few examples of a GSA success.

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.

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