- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 13, 2006

Two D.C. developers are planning to demolish their decades-old parking garage in Foggy Bottom and construct a Courtyard by Marriott hotel at the site.

Albert H. Small of Southern Engineering Corp. and Bernard Gewirz of Potomac Investment Properties Inc. recently received zoning approval and plan to start demolition on 515 20th St. NW soon.

The pair bought the land in the early 1960s and have operated a parking garage on the site ever since. But many winters of corrosive road salt deposits, which can quickly ruin concrete, have taken their toll.

“The garage is deteriorating and costing a lot of money to keep up,” said Steven Gewirz, son of Bernard and chief financial officer of Potomac Investment Properties. “This is better land use and better urban planning.”

The group considered condominiums and a luxury boutique hotel. But the small size of the site and its position on the interior of the block limited its uses, Mr. Gewirz said.

“We felt that there is a need for this type of product in Foggy Bottom and that it represents a better use of the land than a parking garage,” Mr. Small said.

The 147-room Courtyard, which is scheduled to open in early 2008, will have an indoor pool and fitness center.

Courtyard by Marriott is the business chain of Bethesda-based Marriott International Inc. The chain typically includes Wi-Fi Internet access and a business center in its hotels.

“They’re local and have a great reputation,” Mr. Gewirz said. “We were comfortable with them.”

L.A. comes to Silver Spring

L.A. Fitness International LLC has signed a lease to open its first location in the Washington area.

The club, scheduled to open in Silver Spring in the late fall, features typical health-club amenities, such as a heated lap pool and spa, basketball court, racquetball courts and group class space.

L.A. Fitness has 135 clubs across the country.

“The fact that L.A. Fitness chose Silver Spring for its first location in the D.C. region sends a very clear message to the marketplace about the strength of this area and its continued renaissance,” said Charles K. Nulsen III, president of Washington Property, which owns the site.

The Bethesda commercial real-estate firm recently completed a $5 million renovation of the building at 8616 Cameron St.

In other news…

• Buffalo Wings and Beer opened its ninth Washington area location late last month. Noel Pacheco, who worked at the chain’s original location in Gaithersburg, opened the restaurant on Veirs Mill Road in Wheaton.

Ira Levy, who owns the first eight Buffalo Wings and Beer locations in the Washington area and is hoping to franchise the company, said it’s a sports-oriented gathering place with coin-operated pool tables and darts. Its specialties are, as the name implies, buffalo wings and beer.

• Washington made the fashionable pages of Marie Claire’s September issue. A 20-page spread features local luminaries wearing clothes by American designers with Washington backdrops. Sens. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, are included.

Retail & Hospitality appears Mondays. Send news to Jen Haberkorn at [email protected] or 202/636-4836.

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