- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Sales of residences at the Watergate Hotel begin today in advance of the historic building’s conversion into co-op living units.

Prices begin at $650,000 for an 800-square-foot, one-bedroom unit on the lower floors but rise to more than $9 million for a 5,400-square-foot, four-bedroom penthouse.

Michael Darby, principal in Monument Realty, developer of the $190 million renovation, recommends that buyers act quickly.

The Watergate Hotel, at 2650 Virginia Ave. NW, is the last building in the six-building Watergate complex of commercial and housing space to be converted to residences.

“Once this is done, it’s gone,” he said.

The name of the 13-story building is changing from the Watergate Hotel to simply the Watergate.

In the Washington market, the price tag for the Watergate is likely to be less of an obstacle to purchases than for many other residential buildings, Mr. Darby said.

“One of the great things about this building, that no other building has, is the history,” Mr. Darby said about the hotel that was central to the Nixon administration’s Watergate scandal in 1972.

The interior design planned for the units incorporates building materials from all over the world.

A penthouse sales office that already has been remodeled with showpiece fixtures and flooring includes “lilac fantastic” Turkish marble for bathtubs, wooden floors with a light brown Brazilian maple and stark German faucets. Other materials come from Spain, India and Italy.

Each of the 96 residences has windows overlooking the Potomac River.

A challenge for the renovation was making the interiors consistent with the building’s original 1965 design by Italian architect Luigi Moretti.

Mr. Moretti designed the building with curved walls and white exterior stone to create an interplay of light and shadow.

The renovation architects tried to use an “Italian futuristic design” for the interior that would not clash with the exterior features, Mr. Darby said.

At the same time, they had to comply with building codes that have changed since 1965, including being accessible to people in wheelchairs.

Ramps and handrails were installed “where they’re unobtrusive,” said Michael Hickok, the Hickok Cole Architects designer of the building’s interior structures. “We had to do it in a way that did not disturb the historical appearance.”

Construction is to begin by late summer. The schedule calls for new residents to move in by late next year.

In other news …

• Pembroke Real Estate has acquired the 183,000-square-foot office building at 1801 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, two blocks west of the White House.

The building is the first property acquired by Boston-based Pembroke Real Estate in Washington, but not the last, company officials said. The purchase price was not disclosed.

“1801 Pennsylvania Avenue is a high-quality property in an extremely desirable location and one that will serve as a core asset to future investment opportunities in the District,” said Edward Johnson IV, Pembroke Real Estate vice president.

Major tenants include the General Services Administration and the law firm of Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr.

• Property Lines runs on Thursdays. Call Tom Ramstack at 202/636-3180 or e-mail tramstack@washingtontimes.com.

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