Washington Post headquarters to sell to Carr Properties for $159 million


The Washington Post building at 1150 15th St. NW. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Graham Holdings, the former parent of The Washington Post, has reached a deal to sell the newspaper’s longtime headquarters at 15th and L streets NW to Carr Properties for $159 million.

The newspaper, now owned by Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos, will continue to rent space in the building until it identifies a new headquarters location, a search that began before Bezos bought the paper.

Graham Holdings, which includes a mix of businesses such as Kaplan educational services, is the new post-sale name for the company controlled by Donald E. Graham and his family.

The properties include 1150 15th St., 1515 L St. and 1523 L St. The D.C. government assesses them at nearly $80 million. The sale also includes the land beneath an office building Carr already owns, a 12-story, 144,000-square-foot property at 1100 15th St.

The Post’s editorial and business operations still occupy the building, about four blocks north of the White House. The Post also once printed newspapers in the building, but after readership started shifting to the suburbs in the 1970s and ’80s, it opened a printing plant in Springfield and then in College Park and ceased printing on the downtown presses in 1999.

Carr Properties is the latest iteration of a family empire begun 51 years ago by magnate Oliver T. Carr Jr. The company recently landed a $300 million investment from Alony Hetz Properties and Investments, one of Israel’s largest real estate investment companies, and has been on a buying spree.

The company plans to expand its real estate holdings from about $800 million today to $1.5 billion in coming years and then possibly go public, allowing it to attract more cash through an initial public offering.

Oliver T. Carr III, president and chief executive of Carr Properties, was at a family event Wednesday afternoon and not immediately available to comment. The company had been trying to sell its stake at 1150 15th St. but remained open to acquiring the rest of The Post’s property instead.

Carr has said in the past that the Post headquarters, located a few blocks from the booming apartment corridor on 14th Street, would make sense as a mixed-use project. Historic preservation groups decided not to nominate parts of the properties as historic landmarks, removing a possible barrier to redevelopment.

“I would imagine a mixed-use redevelopment that would include both some office as well as some residential, perhaps hotel. It could add some vitality,” Carr said in an earlier interview.

Post Publisher Katharine Weymouth told employees in February that she had begun exploring the sale of the headquarters and relocating, saying the goal was to “give us a more modern, bright, open and efficient building that better supports and advances our mission into the future.”

Sources familiar with the companies’ search, but who were not authorized to share details publicly, said Graham Holdings has been looking for about 30,000 square feet in Northern Virginia. Graham Holdings spokeswoman Rima Calderon declined to comment on the requirements and said in an e-mail that the company has not narrowed its search to any one jurisdiction.

The newspaper has been looking for up to 270,000 square feet in the District. It received about two dozen proposals over the summer and has been narrowing its options.

Graham Holdings has been jettisoning real estate now that it no longer owns the flagship newspaper. The contract for the headquarters follows deals for two Robinson Terminal warehouses on the Potomac River in Alexandria that the company is selling.

The deal for the downtown D.C. building is expected to close at the end of March.

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