Stuart S. Golding carries around a couple of scraps of paper as talismans of his campaign to be chosen to restore the Willard Hotel.
One is a small ad he spotted in the Wall Street Journal, an offer from the PennsyIvania Avenue Development Corp. of plans and specifications for bidders on the project.
"I tore it out and told my secretary to send them$25 and get a copy," Golding recalled the other day. "My secretary, who's been with me for 20 years, said, 'Boss, you've flipped'."
That $25 investment led Golding into the $50 million job of restoring the once-graned hotel and constructing an addition that will double the number of rooms and add 60 boutiques to the Willard complex.
The extent of that assignment is indicated by Golding's second souvenir, a rat-chewed room receipt for a long-forgotten night in the Willard. Golding picked it up from the floor of the horror movie set that was once the Willard's lobby.
In the declining days before the hotel's door were padlocked and the windows shuttered with plywood, a room at the Willard went for $10, the room receipt reveals. The rate is likely to be 10 times that much when Golding's construction crews are finished and the Fairmont Hotels Corp. of San Franciso reopens the Willard.
The hotel is such a shambles that Golding's $50 million estimate of the restoration and construction costs is little more than a ball-park guess of what the final Bill will be. Whatever the cost, it will be paidwithout public subsidies. Golding has assured the PADC.
The major restoration job starts in the Willard's lobby, where two-story marble pillars once gave the registration desk the look of a Roman temple.
The pillars are partially wrapped in walnut-grained contact paper, which has peeled enough to reveal the columns weren't marble at all. They are plaster, painted by hand.
Anyone who's ever peeled contact paper from kitchen cabinets can imagine what the columns will look like underneath. Finding craftsmen who can marbilize plaster is as difficult as finding stone carvers to create to real thing.
The stairways leading from the decrepit lobby stink of urine, and the wrappers of every Big Mac eaten by the building's security guards are preserved in a pile just inside the F Street entrance.
The building was vandalized with official approval in the days when a vast formal garden called National Plaza was envisioned for the site. After auctioning the furniture and the plumbing fixtures, the government invited souvenir hunters to take what they wanted before the wrecking ball started swinging.They did't leave much.
Golding has scrounged up some old menus that he hopes will form the basis for the culinary and graphic style of the restoration of the main dining rooms on the the first floor.
The main dining rooms on the first floor of the Willard will become period piece restaurants, but the hotel's grand ballroom, on the top floor, will not be restored.
Architect Malcolm Holzman of Hardy, Holzman & Pfeiffer of New York plans to cut up the ballroom into guest rooms. Several of the new rooms will have spectacular views of Washington through the round windows that pierce the curving mansard roof, Holzman promises. The windows are so far above the floor of the ballroom now that now no one can peer out of them.
Adding rooms is one of the economic necessities of the project. Golding insists.
Many of the orginal rooms are tiny by today's standards, so the architects will enlarge them by ripping out walls. Evens after rooms are added in the ballroom floor, there will be only 300 rooms in the restored Willard, compared with more than 400 in the original.
Another 300 rooms are planned for the addition to be built between the Willard and The Washington hotel at the west end of the block. The shops will be in the addition, along with a new heating and air conditioning plant for the whole complex.
The number of rooms in the new wing may have to be reduced to comply with a directive the PADC's board has given Golding to add some apartments to the project. PADC officials are adamant about the importance of permanent residents on Pennsylvania Avenue and have made apartments one of two specific changes they want.
Both of the other finalists in the Willard competition planed some apartments - either rentals or condominiums - in their versions of the job, but Golding told the PADC board he did not want to mix apartments with hotel rooms.
That position is likely to change during the 180 days of negotiations that are to lead next May to a contract between the PADC and the Golding group.
Also likely to be revised during negotiations is Golding's plan for financing the project, which calls for the big New York investment banking firm of Lazard Freres & Co. to provide the cash.
For the first time, PADC is insisting on minority participation in the project on an equity basis. Golding has been advised to bring in minority partners and already has hired a Washington law firm to recruit local black capitalists.
No specific goal for a minority share has been set for the Willard project, but PADC board members have talked of a 20 percent target. That probably will become the minimum minority investment allowed in future PADC projects under a new affirmative action plan the board is expected to adopt next month.
With more than$200 million of construction work committed on Pennsylvania Avenue and another $150 million expected in the next year or two. PADC already demonstrated that public and private resources can be marshalled to resurrect a neighborhood.
By requiring minority equity participation in the completion of its work, PADC is acknowledging that the support of the entire community is essential for the successful development of Pennsylvania Avenue. CAPTION: Picture, Stuart S. Golding speaks at a press conference after winning Willard Hotel redevelopment contract Dec. 19, Golding started the process of being chosen for the lucrative contract by sending $25 to the PADC. By Tom Allen-The Washington Post