The Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corp. is supposed to get the word this week on the future of the Willard Hotel, which has been waiting at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW while developer Stuart Golding looks for the money to fix it up. a
Rebuffed in his bid for a federal grant to subsidize the restoration of the Willard, Golding is facing a June 1 deadline to start work and a Wednesday meeting with the PADC's board to report on his progress.
"There really is nothing new," says Golding, but he insists that no news is, if not good news, not unexpected.
"Where are you going to get cheerier news when the prime rate is 19 percent?" asks the Florida developer who has searched from Wall Street to the Middle East for the money he needs. "I've found a lot of different avenues to pursue as the noose tightens."
"I haven't found the permanent financing I need nor do I expect to in this climate," adds Golding, who has a commitment from a major New York bank to finance the project for up to seven years.
Golding has had a small crew doing interior demolition work for several weeks, and he insists he'll pick up the pace as June and the paperwork on the project unfold.
Asked a few days ago if he is going ahead without a long-term mortgage, Golding replied, "Of course I am. You don't think I worked three years for nothing?"
There's more than a little frustration in Golding's voice these days. He's unhappy that the PADC refused to give him historic preservations funds that could have been spent on the Willard -- and irritated and outraged that city officials did not recommend his hotel project for a $20 million Urban Development Action Grant.
Golding thought he had a commitment from Mayor Marion Barry for the UDAG money, but the project was dropped from the list after questions were raised about subsidizing a luxury hotel and rival developer Oliver T. Carr offered to do the job without federal money.
"What annoys the hell out of me is Carr trying to block this thing," said Golding. He accuses Carr of trying to shoot down his project after the PADC rejected Carr's proposal in favor of Golding's flashier architecture.
"I haven't gotten the support where I should have on this," laments Golding, listing the city government, the PADC, this newspaper and this reporter among those he thinks should have backed him.
"We going ahead anyway," he insists. "I'm not about to jeopardize my position" by not meeting the June 1 deadline to start construction. "We're busting our ass, and we're gonna build it."
Good luck, Stuart.