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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

New Hotels, Storied Pasts

On my way to work this morning, I snapped this shot of one of the buildings on L Street slated to become either a Courtyard by Marriott or a Residence Inn by 2011. I'm very excited about Marriott's plans to build these two hotels, as I think they're going to add to the area's vibrancy much more so than one mongoidally large hotel would have (originally the plan was to build a huge mega-hotel, now the plan is to build one large one and two smaller ones). Construction should be complete by 2011.

I presume that for the smaller hotels, Marriott will incorporate--at least in part--the facades of the cluster of old buildings on site. I can definitely picture the above building, 919 L Street, repurposed as a beautiful hotel. Interestingly, a brief Google search of this address indicates that it was a rundown apartment building that went co-op in about 1991. With some financial assistance, the tenants fixed it up considerably from its prior deplorable shape. Sometime in the past 5 years, it seems the co-op went under and the building was sold.


Anonymous said...

The Eldon brand has been extracted from this building. it will always be The Eldon to me. haha


youstreet said...

Ignore the previous comment. The Eldon is the apartment building two doors down. This building was originally known as the Lurgan and I believe it was built in 1914. The building has a convoluted history that includes a period in which it was a hotel. The building eventually became a low income apartment and it fell into total disrepair during the '70s and '80s. City funds during Sharon Pratt Dixon's tenure as well as private charity funds allowed the tenants to acquire the building. These low income tenants moved out of the building during the building's renovation. Upon the completion of the renovation, the tenants moved back in as member owners of a tenant co-operative with a single underlying mortgage. Yup. One mortgage for the entire co-op. Sadly, the co-op period of the building's history didn't go well as most residents did not appreciate that they actually owned the building. In 2003 the co-op found itself unable to pay the balloon payment of the building's underlying mortgage. Facing foreclosure, the co-op sold the building to Tenacity for conversion to a condominium. The co-op member tenants negotiated an option to re-purchase their units at way below market rates. Most of the co-op tenants sadly did not opt to purchase their units at the below market rates that they negotiated with Tenacity. These tenants were subsequently evicted by Tenacity in 2005 and 2006. In 2004, Tenacity began the conversion process and sold 7 units at market rates as the building converted to condos. I believe in 2004 that Tenacity thought that the co-op tenants would follow through and purchase their units. One of the 7 market rate units was sold to me. In 2005 and 2006 the situation deteriorated beyond belief. The city passed legislation 16-630 which authorized the city to use of eminent domain to acquire this property for the convention center hotel. Under this threat of eminent domain, the last few unit owners, myself included, sold our units back to Tenacity, who sold the building in its entirety to Marriott at a huge profit over what they paid the co-op for the building. But, before selling I had to endure a year of essentially living in an empty building. In Shaw. Fun. I had the pleasure of having pimps, hookers, crackheads, etc. break into the building on what seemed like a nightly basis. I also dealt with threats by Tenacity, who were trying to get the building back as cheap as possible. City officials in the Office of Economic Development were unwilling to act with transparency and inform us of the city's intentions with respect to eminent domain. A untrustworthy pro-business wapo reporter made efforts on a regular basis to try to figure out what was happening in 919. Ah the memories. End result? I finally got what I wanted, which was a decent profit on a risky real estate bet. The low income African Americans who previously owned the building got little or nothing. Tenacity made a huge sum of money when they sold the building to Marriott. Marriott gets to hold itself as the saviors of this portion of the mess that is Shaw. And the readers of this and other Shaw blogs, most of whom, like me, are COMPLETELY sick of the status quo in Shaw, applaud the "progress" without knowing anything about the human wreckage that happened when all of the low income residents of 919 lost their homes. Phew. Thanks for reading.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's an interesting story, youstreet!!

Anonymous said...

wow youstreet. i stand corrected and appreciate your comments. you tell it like it is. we used to say: whatever marriott wants marriott gets.

Shaw Rez said...

Fascinating, youstreet. Thank you so much for your thoughtful, informative comment.

Jon said...

"One mortgage for the entire co-op."
That's how co-ops always work. The co-op as an entity owns the building and (if necessary) borrows money to buy/renovate it. Individual owners don't own the building or apartments -- they own a share in the co-op, and owning that share gives them the right to live in a particular unit. (And, normally, the owners borrow money to buy their shares, resulting in each owner having a loan that looks an awful lot like a mortgage).

Nitpicking aside, that is a really interesting story. Thanks for sharing it with us.