The Washington Post

CityCenter DC’s hotel and fashion lineup come into shape

CityCenter DC is humming. People have begun moving into the apartments, the condos are selling, a few shops are open and 10th Street, after 35 years, has re-opened.

The project’s developer is also readying to unveil a retail line-up that, according to a source familiar with the negotiations, will likely include Dior, Hermès, Longchamp, Paul Stuart, Salvatore Ferragamo and Zadig & Voltaire. Tumi and Allen Edmonds have both already opened their stores and Burberry, Hugo Boss and Kate Spade have announced their plans to follow. The source would only comment anonymously because details are being finalized.

Now the developer is planning its second act.

A rendering of the planned hotel at CityCenter DC, from the intersection of 10th and Eye Streets NW.
A rendering of the planned hotel at CityCenter DC, from the intersection of 10th and Eye Streets NW.

For more than a year, Hines, the lead developer of CityCenter, has been in discussions with Hilton to build a Conrad hotel in the second phase of the project. The project, which will face New York Avenue east of 10th Street, is planned to have about 370 rooms. Construction is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2015.

A Conrad hotel would add to CityCenter’s vibe as an exclusive section of downtown. Conrad Hotels & Resorts is Hilton’s contemporary luxury brand, named after its founder, Conrad N. Hilton. The brand has been focused mostly on international markets, with only four open so far in North America, in New York, Chicago, Miami and Indianapolis.

The project would also give Arlington native Christopher J. Nassetta, chief executive of Hilton Worldwide, a second shot at a high-end downtown hotel after losing the Old Post Office project to Donald and daughter Ivanka Trump. 

A rendering of the planned hotel at CityCenter DC.
A rendering of the planned hotel at CityCenter DC.

Hines declined to comment on unannounced retailers or its hotel partner.

Aside from who will operate the hotel is the question of who will own and finance it. Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Co., the real estate investment arm of the Qatar Investment Authority, Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, paid for the construction of the first phase with more than $600 million in cash and is expected to have first crack at the top ownership stake in the second phase, but Hines has made no announcement on that front either.

D.C. Deputy Mayor Victor Hoskins has hinted that the Qataris are interested in spending more money on Washington real estate.

With CityCenter’s developers aiming to create a new luxury standard for downtown D.C. the project is increasingly setting up a rivalry with the city’s long-dominant neighborhood for shopping: Georgetown. And don’t think Georgetown’s top developer hasn’t noticed.

Anthony Lanier’s EastBanc has brought more shopping and restaurants to Georgetown than anyone. Lanier is building residential buildings in the West End and on Capitol Hill, but he is unimpressed by the architecture and design of the first six CityCenter buildings.

So Lanier said he’s taken on a side project: trying to poach the brands that want to be in Washington but haven’t fully committed to CityCenter yet.

“I want to go into CityCenter and pilfer their tenants,” he said Tuesday. “I think that would be fun.”

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz

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



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