Real Estate Firm Puts Watergate Office Tower Up for Sale

By Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 13, 2009

The Watergate office tower, where a burglary eventually led to President Richard M. Nixon's resignation, is for sale.

The 11-story office building at 2600 Virginia Ave. NW, Washington, is owned by BentleyForbes, a real estate investment firm based in Los Angeles. BentleyForbes is also selling 66,000 square feet of retail space next door, plus a parking garage at the Watergate complex. The properties are being put on the market in the next 10 days.

Why sell in one of the worst real estate markets ever? "It is basic portfolio and fund management. You've done what you wanted to do with them, " said Arthur Milston, managing director at Savills in New York, the real estate company that will market the buildings. BentleyForbes bought its portion of the Watergate complex in 2005 for $86.5 million. The company said it put about $4 million into renovations.

The Watergate was designed in the 1960s by the Italian architect Luigi Moretti and sits next to the Kennedy Center. In addition to the buildings for sale, the complex also contains a hotel, three residential buildings and another office building at 600 New Hampshire Ave. NW.

The hotel has been closed for several years. Its owner, Monument Realty, and Monument's partner, the now-bankrupt Lehman Brothers, had plans to turn it into cooperative apartments after a long fight with the neighboring co-op owners.

Few office buildings have been sold in the region during the economic crisis and credit crunch. Still, Milston said he expects to get "north of $100 million" for the property.

Milston said he plans to market the office building -- including Suite 610, the Democratic National Committee office that Republican operatives broke into in 1972 -- to investors in Europe and Asia.

"It is a quality asset with strong tenants, a stable cash flow and good location," he said. "And it is an iconic brand name, and that's a strong driver for bringing people here to look at the asset."

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