- The Washington Times - Monday, April 4, 2011

An investment arm of oil-rich Qatar is putting up the equity needed to fund the massive CityCenterDC project, officials said moments before breaking ground Monday at the site of the old downtown convention center six blocks from the White House.

The Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company supplied $700 million to finance the project, intended to bring retail, apartments and office space to a 4.5-block parcel bounded by New York Avenue and 9th, H and 11th streets, NW, officials said.

A spokeswoman for developer Hines/Archstone declined to comment Monday morning on when funds from the tiny nation on the Arabian peninsula were secured, citing the upcoming ground-breaking.

Qatar’s Barwa Bank put the funding in place. Its vice chairman and manager director, Mohammed Al Saad, said of the project: “Its ambition, scale and profile are commensurate with its status as Qatar’s first major real estate investment in the U.S. , and one which I believe will mark the beginning of a long and successful U.S.-Qatari partnership in premium real estate investment and development.”

Mayor Vincent C. Gray has touted the project in public comments and press advisories, saying it is “believed to be the largest downtown development currently underway in any U.S. city.”

He has said the project will create 1,700 construction jobs and 3,700 permanent jobs. He also estimated $29.8 million in annual tax revenue, $112 million in retail annual sales and $9.4 million in retail tax revenue.

“By far this is one of the most significant projects ever undertaken in the District of Columbia,” Mr. Gray said last week at his State of the District Address.