D.C. Officials Plan to Acquire Site in Path Of Downtown Hotel

Monday, December 18, 2006

· District officials are planning to invoke eminent domain to acquire a locksmith shop at the corner of Ninth and L streets NW, as the District and hotel giant Marriott International of Bethesda want the land on which it stands to build a new convention center hotel.

"I know the end is near," said Whit Conway, who leases the space for his Central Safe and Locksmith. "They'll probably want me out in three to six months."

He said he and the owners of the parcel got letters Nov. 30 notifying them of the District's plans.

The property is key to completing the acquisition of land needed to build a hotel with 1,400-plus rooms at Massachusetts Avenue and Ninth Street NW. The city hopes to acquire the property by the first quarter of next year, and construction on the hotel is expected to start in 2008.

This summer, the District approved a $550 million deal that includes $135 million in tax-increment financing and authorized the use of eminent domain if needed to acquire the site of the locksmith shop, which has operated there since 1979.

Conway, who has eight years left on his lease, recently won a lawsuit requiring that his landlord buy out the lease if the property is sold. "There's no impetus for the landlord to make a deal because they'd have to buy me out of the lease," Conway said. "If they're forced to eminent domain that relieves them of their obligation to me."

Warren Lumpkins, one of the owners of the land, said he's "backed against the wall."

"If I don't sell it they'll take it," he said. "I wouldn't mind selling if the price is right. I guess I'm waiting for an offer, but I'm sure it will come under eminent domain."


· J.P. Morgan paid $275 million for a 95 percent interest in the Investment Building at 15th and K streets NW. They bought their share from SITQ, a Canadian pension fund, and KanAm-WestWind, real estate investment companies. The rest of the property is owned by Vornado Realty Trust. The Washington office of Eastdil Secured represented the seller.

· Monday Properties of Arlington and its partner, Apollo Real Estate Advisors' Value Enhancement Fund VI, paid $170 million for 2100 Second St. SW, a 600,000-square-foot building where the U.S. Coast Guard has offices.

-- Dana Hedgpeth

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