New owner plans extensive redo for Madison Hotel

By Danielle Douglas
Monday, January 31, 2011

Jamestown Properties has purchased the iconic Madison Hotel, a favorite of presidents and prime ministers for nearly half a century, and is embarking on a multimillion-dollar makeover.

The Atlanta-based real estate investment firm snagged the full-service, luxury hotel and its adjoining office building from Bentall Kennedy for $123 million. The price tag has saved the new owners enough cash to restore the District hotel to its former glory, said Michael Phillips, a managing director at Jamestown.

"In the last 15 years, it has become a commodity hotel and not the best-in-class property it was the first 30 years, when Marshall Coyne ran it," he said.

To remedy the problem, Phillips and his partners have enlisted Destination Hotels & Resorts to run the Madison, a job Loews Hotels formerly held. The move brings Destination, a subsidiary of Lowe Enterprises, back to the D.C. market, where it previously ran the Monarch until the hotel was sold in 2002. The company has chosen Jim Horsman to head up the Madison.

"What attracted us to Destination is that they really specialize in non-flag hotels and understand how to establish a hotel's identity," Phillips said.

Next up: the d├ęcor. While the Madison underwent an extensive $30 million renovation back in 2003, the new owners see much room for improvement. To that end, they are embarking on a $20 million facelift of the 353 rooms, 14,000 square feet of meeting space, PostScript lounge and Palette restaurant.

Work will commence on the rooms and communal space in staggered phases starting in the spring. Phillips said the renovation will take cues from the Savoy in London or the Carlyle in New York City, both of which possess timeless contemporary, not trendy, style.

"The idea is to make it like an American country house hotel in the city," he said. Interior designer Dominick Coyne is charged with the project. "D.C. has a lot of super trendy, modern hotels at all price points. And that's not what we're trying to do." Jamestown expects to up the room rate to roughly $350 a day from $250 a day.

The restaurant-bar, Palette, which had become a popular lunchtime haunt, has already closed for construction, with demolition to get under way in the next few weeks. A replacement concept has yet to be determined, but Phillips anticipates a new restaurant will be ready by this September.

As for the 95,000-square-foot office building, Jamestown will upgrade the floor plans, but there are no plans for anything quite as involved as the hotel's renovation. The office building is 90 percent occupied.

Phillips said he and his partners are pleased with their first hotel purchase in Washington, which, at $266,000 a room, traded below the average $300,000 per room price of recent area sales. The team is also considering a ground-up hotel development on Square 696, a 1.9-acre development site in the Southeast Capital Riverfront section of the District.

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