Robert H. Smith School of Business
Capital Business
Posted at 06:00 PM ET, 06/11/2012

Watergate’s new owner welcomes anniversary’s attention

The historic Watergate complex in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood, Washington. (Jeffrey Porter for The Washington Post.)
The Watergate office building is back in the news, thanks to the 40th anniversary of the burglary that led to the downfall of President Richard Nixon and made celebrities out of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

All the attention is welcome by Penzance Cos., the development company that bought the building for $76 million last year. Penzance has been planning a major overhaul of the building to try to attract high-end office tenants to take up space there. To help publicize the building, Penzance agreed to host a June 11 event with The Washington Post featuring Woodward, Bernstein, former editor Ben Bradlee and other journalists and dignitaries.

Might the event help attract companies interested in leasing space in the famous (or infamous?) building? The company issued a press release touting the event and noting that the top four floors of the 12-story, 200,000-square-foot building “have been recently vacated and offer a rare opportunity for approximately 75,000 square feet of prestige contiguous space.”

Victor K. Tolkan, Penzance managing partner and founder, said that the company put off construction in order to host the event. “We’re literally starting construction tomorrow,” he said.

Tolkan said the overhaul of the building will include a new entrance, lobby, elevators, common areas and bathrooms, as well as new shops and restaurants to replace a collection of older stores that included a Safeway.

“We have lots of interest on the retail and a lot of activity on the office,” he said. “I think people want to see something actually happening.”

Might companies be willing to pay a premium for the sixth floor suite that housed the Democratic National Headquarters when the break-in occurred?

“Sadly no,” Tolkan said. “If it were haunted maybe by the people who had broken in, maybe.”

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz

By  |  06:00 PM ET, 06/11/2012

Tags:  Watergate, Bob Woodward, Ben Bradlee, Carl Bernstein, commercial real estate

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