The seven-year saga of efforts to build a massive hotel next to the Washington Convention Center inched along last week, as consultants concluded that a 1,220-room hotel is technically and financially feasible on a site at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue NW and Ninth Street.
The Washington Convention Center Authority earlier this year endorsed building the hotel at that location instead of on the site of the former convention center two blocks south that some officials have argued would be an easier and cheaper place to build. But the convention board's endorsement was contingent on the consultants finding it feasible to squeeze all 1,220 rooms plus 100,000 square feet of ballroom space and 600 parking spots onto about two acres owned by developer Kingdon Gould, the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry and Marriott International Corp.
The consultants, Conventions, Sports & Leisure International, found that it is feasible, presumably to the relief of everyone who assumed it was all along.
The convention center board met on Thursday to review the document, but not all members were present and the group decided to postpone accepting it and issuing it publicly, said developer Jim Abdo, who chairs the development committee. "We want to make sure it has the blessing of all our board members."
The report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, fills a six-inch-thick binder with 18 tabs. It estimates that the hotel could be built on the Ninth Street site after 18 months of planning and 40 months of construction -- but that building on the old convention center site would take 12 to 15 months longer because of the master planning process underway there. It finds that the total cost of the hotel, excluding land costs, would be $417 million on the Ninth Street site and $429 million on the old convention center site.
Even after the convention center board blesses the consultants' report, as expected, the immediate future of the project remains hazy. The mayor and D.C. Council must agree on where to build. They also must decide whether the hotel will be publicly financed through the convention authority or privately financed by Marriott and billionaire mogul Robert Johnson, who have made their own proposal to undertake the project.
Convention center board members on Friday began pitching key council members Linda Cropp and Jack Evans on what they see as the urgency of the project, which has been in various stages of talk since plans to build the current convention center began in 1998.
* Trimark of Springfield sold the Cary Building, a three-story office building at 8136 Old Keene Mill Road in Springfield for $8.3 million. The purchaser was Alum Ridge LLC.
* Meridian Group of Bethesda, through broker Trammel Crow Co., leased 98,859 square feet at its 3 Bethesda Metro Center in recent months, bringing the building at Wisconsin Avenue and Old Georgetown Road to 97 percent occupancy. New tenants taking the largest spaces included RLJ Development LLC, Cosmos Corp. and Bank of America.
* Capital Lease Funding, a New York-based real estate investment trust, said it closed on the $81.5 million acquisition of an office building in North Bethesda that is part of the headquarters complex for the National Cancer Institute. The company obtained $65.2 million in mortgage financing on the building.
Dana Hedgpeth, who writes about commercial real estate and economic development, has been away on assignment but is returning. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.