CM Jim Graham Updates Us on, “A Hotel for Adams Morgan”

Dear Friends,

Residents have contacted me regarding the Adams Morgan hotel project at Euclid and Champlain Streets. Opinion appears to be divided but, overall, people are anxious for more information.

I authored the tax abatement bill in order to make this project a reality. The bill proposes to abate property taxes for up to 20 years beginning October 1, 2014, capped at $46 million.

This is a chicken and egg situation– we need to offer this tax relief in order to get this property on the tax rolls (including sales tax, hotel tax, income tax for jobs, parking tax, and ultimately, real estate tax). The DC Chief Financial Officer has certified that–without this tax relief– the project is not feasible and will not proceed. With this relief, DC will net about $5 million annually in revenue.

Thus, through this abatement, we restore to productive use a currently vacant historic church building, insure a development that will create jobs, add district revenue, and increase daytime commerce in a neighborhood where this would dramatically improve business and public safety. Daytime commerce is a key issue: It will more balance for what is now a very heavy reliance on nightlife. In consequence there will be more daytime retail opportunities.

Plan B?—Continued deterioration of this vacant historic church, no tax revenue for the district, no new jobs, and nothing contributed to the surrounding neighborhood. The very tiny church congregation (under 20 members) cannot afford to either maintain or use the building.

There has been extensive community discussion about this project including more than 25 meetings over a period of years with the ANC and community organizations. The Council held a public hearing on my bill on October 7.

There is still another opportunity for community input at an ANC Forum to be held on December 16 at 7pm. (The location will be announced soon.) A Council vote on a tax abatement might occur after this forum, possibly as soon as December 21.

And then there will be more comment–Should this project go forward, the District’s land use planning process (planned unit development (PUD)) will offer further, extensive opportunity for community input on issues such as height, density, parking, design elements, community benefits package &c.

Regarding the tax abatement, the Chief Financial Officer has reported that it will have no negative fiscal impact.

Some have suggested that the Developer would go ahead with or without a tax abatement. As I mentioned earlier, the Chief Financial Officer has done an analysis based on the costs and revenue of this project and has determined that the project would not proceed without a tax abatement.

Yesterday, the Council was expected to take the first vote on the bill that I introduced. However, for procedural reasons, the Council was not permitted to take this vote. The bill was temporarily held-up in the Committee on Finance and Revenue in order to gather additional information. Once the Committee finally voted to support the bill, it was too late to meet the notice requirements to get on the agenda for the Council meeting.

Do you think a tax abatement for this proposed hotel is a good idea?

Anyone know how long this building has already been vacant?

80 Comment

  • Written like to true tool of the developers and and Big Hospitality. There is no way in Hell that we shgould be paying someone $45 million to move into a vibrant, rich neighborhood in a city with one of the best economies in the country.

    • Irving…you weren’t paying attention.

      We aren’t “paying” anyone anything.

      The property is currently a church. Churches do not pay property tax, so there is none being collected nor has been for `80 years. The property is a net deficit to the city fiscally.

      So the deal is, a hotel comes in, builds a swanky hotel. The hook, allowing the property underneath the hotel remain in its CURRENT non-taxable status for 20 years.

      We aren’t giving up money we already had, and we still get to collect millions a year in sales and occupancy tax and provide some MUCH needed jobs.

      And lastly, this deal couldn’t gain traction in the past 10 years when the economy was booming and money was free so to think it could suceed now without some help is just naive.

      • Just a minor quibble. The hotel will be sitting on the current church parking lot (not taxable), but also on the property of the building where the City Paper and WPFW are currently located. So there will be a loss of some property tax, not much mind you, but some. To say otherwise though would be untrue.

      • +1 – and it won’t really be for 20 years. Its capped at $46M, which will likely come before 2034 – my guess is the tax abatment will end in 2027.

        I wonder if you will be able to get room service jumbo slice.

      • The city would be subsidizing a profit-making entity through a tax abatement. Whether the city cuts their taxes, or brings them briefcases of money, they’re still paying a the hotelier to locate there — the result is exactly the same. The construct that there’s no choice being paying somebody $45 million so that that entity can make a profit of many more millions of dollars, or allowing the property to sit vacant is was clearly written by a lobbyist or PR person and if you can’t think of any other alternatives — say a capitalist-oriented company that can find a way to make a profit without my paying them to bless me with their presence — you lack both creativity and business sense.

        • Would love to hear both your creativity and business sense. What would you do with the property? (Please show your worksheet with numbers.)

        • Irivng Streete (sic)- no idea what you are trying to say. Bottom line: Vacant = no revenue and no community value. Hotel = revenue and community value (even with tax abatement).

        • Yeah, what Irving seems to not get is that there’s a risk associated with business. It’s not like these guys invest multiple millions and have guarantee of 5% return per annum. They could lose everything. “Yeah, but it’s Adams Morgan!” Risk abounds in AdMo. Remember the DWR that folded? Or the 10 business that fold on 18th every year? Only the dives thrive there. It’s not Dupont or Georgetown or Downtown.

          So the city steps up and say, we will mitigate some of your risk. We know it’s unlikely you’ll be profitable for the first couple years, so here’s an offset to your losses: no prop taxes for x years. Is it government subsidized business? Yes. But your home is subsidized right now. Citizens reap too. We all get rewarded by the gov’t for our behavior.

          People have other places they can put their money, so Ward 2 has to be competitive. Everyone here is bullish on AdMo, but what if Baltimore’s Inner Harbor gives the investor more bang for their buck? Consider that the IHOP in Ward 8 could make a higher % return, with less risk. Business people aren’t attracted to shiny things, they’re attracted to numbers.

    • Gotta say. (And I don’t like Graham anymore than the next guy). I think the 45 million is probably needed to bring THIS hotel to Adams Morgan. This isn’t a run of the mill hotel they are proposing. Its 415 bucks a night. Very high end. I wouldn’t give them an abatement to open in DuPont or Georgetown but I would in this location. It solves a lot of problems. It’s in an area that needs revitalizing. (show me any adams morgan shop keeper that wouldn’t welcome some daytime shoppers). It will probably revitalize Columbia Road between Adams Morgan and CH. It will rehab and make accessible to the neighborhood a beautiful old building that now sits vacant and gated. Simply put. Without the abatement the city gets 0 dollars. With the abatement we still get something. Jobs and revenue from other taxes and a boost to our tourism economy. I know people have a knee jerk reaction to abatements. I certainly do. But in this case I’m all for it.

      • +1

        I’d rather DC make some money from this property. It’s also a super cool line of hotels (NOT another Hyatt) so they are one of the few hoteliers that can execute well in the space.

        I also agree that Ad-Mo needs to diversify its revenue stream beyond the night time party crowd.

        Evolve or die.

        (I must be onto something CAPTCHA = ZEUS)

  • Yes, the building is historic, but unless the building can be used as is, what is the point?

    Living just down the street, I think a hotel would definitely make things different, but I’m not sure thats a bad thing either.

  • Seems like it has to be this way to get it done, and we need a hotel although I’d be happy with something more business friendly like a Courtyard etc.
    Certainly I’d vote for knocking the church down and starting over on the lot – current building gives me the scooby doobiy willies.

    • A Courtyard would turn into a giant overnight slumber party every weekend for the jumbo slice scarfing/alley barfing set–the very last thing AdMo needs more of. Nope, an Ian Schrager hotel could be a game changer for this derelict corner and stem the tide of vacancies along Columbia and even 18th. A Courtyard won’t give you something like this, which immediately puts AdMo back on the map as a destination for things other than pickin’ fights and pickin’ up skanks:


        I’ve never stayed there, just gone through for drinks or dinner, but that place is amazing…unlike anything I’ve ever seen …even within NYC

  • 1985 is past.

    Regardless of what the Chief Financial Officer says (who works for the mayor’s office, who works 60% for developers and other moneyed interests) I simply do not believe it requires a $46 million carrot to entice a viable business into this space. This is a vibrant area! It is well above average in comparison to other DC locations. There is no reason to beg businesses to come to Adam’s Morgan. If there are *severe* structural problems, perhaps a 1-3 year tax incentive would be worthwhile to get the project moving.

  • I’m guessing that 60% of developers and other moneyed interests have done a lot more toward bringing this city around than a thousand Tiny Tims.

    Do it. Who else is ever going to come in for any kind of project in this building without a property tax abatement? What other use for the building would you envision?

    As an investor I would have lots of questions about the viability of this location as a hotel – what is the projected cost of a night’s stay and why would someone choose to stay here instead of any of the other options in the city – plenty of boutiques now – particularly those located closer to metro and downtown.

    But if it is no loss to the city (as it doesn’t appear to be with no property taxes collected currently) if someone has run the numbers and is ready to invest – god bless them and make it work.

  • “But if it is no loss to the city (as it doesn’t appear to be with no property taxes collected currently) if someone has run the numbers and is ready to invest – god bless them and make it work.”

    Again, why do you assume that the only choice is between paying somebody $45 million dollars or letting the property sit vacant?

    Why is there no one — if rooms at that location can command upwards of $400 a night — that can make a profit without me subsidizing their profit?

    Why, when corporate profits are back at pre-recession levels, and the DC city government is considering furloughs, are we even considering tax abatements?

    And why, oh why, when businessmen are known liars — strike that, merciless negotiators — and virtually every elected and appointed official in DC is a whore for developer dollars, do you believe for a second either the company’s statement that they need the money or the DC government’s confirmation of it?

    They’re trying to line their pockets. That’s what they do. But we don’t have to encourage them.

    I’ll bet half you guys helped Obama negotiate with the republicans, didn’t you?

    • “Again, why do you assume that the only choice is between paying somebody $45 million dollars or letting the property sit vacant?”

      I didn’t assume that -(reading is fundamental!) I asked for other alternatives/proposals/speculations.

      Please give us yours!

      • I’m quite certain if the city put out a request for proposals, they’d get several, even without a tax abatement carrot. It’s a prime location.

      • “Robber Baron.” Perfect name for somebody who believes political power should be used to raid the public treasury in order to accrue a private profit.

        But you do ask a a tough question, let me think….

        Oh wait — I know!

        A hotel that is designed in ways that respect economic reality and can make a profit without a subsidy.

        (And without the inevitable zoning variations and Crimes Against Urbanity; the massive, public-sponsored utility and street changes; the inevitable under-performances on job creation and tax revenue; the threats to pull out unless further concessions are made, the construction and occupancy slowdowns as the economy moves back and forth and the always malleable hotel-industry reconfigures itself once again; the Lerner-like lawsuits over trivial failures by the DC government….)

        • “A hotel that is designed in ways that respect economic reality and can make a profit without a subsidy.”

          Great idea – I’m ready to invest – give me numbers.

  • If you believe that a company CAN’T do business without a tax abatement of $45M then their plan is not economically sound anyway. I could do a lot $45 million worth of tax free income too.

  • The challenge that DC has when competing for corporate investment in property is our lack of offering incentives for them to come here. The DC Metro area is highly attractive to corporations and if the actual District itself wont make concessions to bring in new deals, then CEO’s/Boards will take their business to Virginia or Maryland where they will get a break in taxes and still capture the wealth of the region and its tourists.

    I don’t think that this scenario is all that fair…but it is our reality living in a region governed by three–really four–governments.

    • I don’t think anyone in choosing between Adams-Morgan and Crystal City in this case. You’re either in the thick of it or you ain’t. Ian Schrager doesn’t build in Newark. (Or to reference an earlier poster, it’s called The Hudson, not The Passaic.)

      • But if the price difference between a hotel in Adams-Morgan and Crystal City is significant – why not stay in Crystal City and pay for a cab or even limo to transport you to and fro if you really need special tibs, jumbo slice, incense and vomit?

        People will pay more to stay in a “happening” place. There is a critical formula of food/drink/entertainment/accomadation/transportation that some places have and some don’t.

        Dupont circle has it. China Town faux has it. H St. is 10 years off. Adams Morgan doesn’t yet, but might almost with some help.

  • I love the property and am happy that the developer is leaving the existing exterior church. Not sure why they ask for a 15 year abatement and we offer 20. I usually negotiate downward.

    Interesting arguments on this board. Reality is that it has been vacant for a long time. Wish there were more details…like how much is the existing congregation getting. Perhaps the question is -if they are getting a lot to make the project viable, shouldn’t they get less? In the end though, it would be nice to create daytime shopping and a high-end hotel there.

  • Daytime shopping for what? I love the idea, but really? With malls & online options, the urban shopping experience is all about – #1 – finding unique things, and #2 – having a whole day “urban” experience – strolling interesting streets (cool architecture & landscaping vital) – eating & drinking in cool places – watching people.

    Say it’s a nice Sunday afternoon – you go to Eastern Market – buy some apples & flowers and earings – then to U st. – St. Ex for lunch and a few fun things at Ruff n Ready, then maybe some napkin rings at Go Mama Go and a pot of Thyme at Garden Distirct.

    You’ve had a wonderful day, and spent maybe $100.00, but no merchant made more than a couple of bucks off you.

    We have to drastically re-think the commerce and value of a lively urban environment.
    The real question is how to make

  • Good move for DC. I live several blocks south of the old church and I’m anxious to see some action there. This is the price of doing business as a city. Maryland and Virginia offer tax abatements all the time. DC lost out on the new Lockheed Martin (or was it Northrup Grumman?) HQ because VA had a better tax incentive. I also recall some DC residents asking about jobs. This might help.

  • According to the proposal (see it on dcist) – this is based on nightly room rates of about $400. The Willard Hotel is currently offering deluxe rooms in the height of Cherry Blossom season (April 9-13 is what I checked) for $331.00.

    If I’m offering my tax dollars – I want a better expected return.

  • This thread has been hijacked by some needless bickering. The bottom line is if we don’t pass the abatement they aren’t building the hotel. And dc is better off if they do build it.

  • So you are saying that the rich NEED government handouts to serve their rich clients but middle class people can get by on their own. Thanks for that lesion.

  • I like the building the way it is now and so do the birds. That block is great just the way it is. We’ve got plenty of hotels. If we’re going to subsidize the property tax bill for something other than solemn religious prayers for birdloveres, this place should be an art museum. It’s already got a cool bike shop, what that block needs is a better bakery or more eastern market-esque nice france like outdoor sales markets.

  • One thing that is left out of this conversation is that a hotel would be paying sales tax and local hotel taxes on each room. That’s not unsubstantial. I would have no idea of calculating how much this would generate for the city.

    I don’t like the idea of tax abatement either. But the economics in a city work differently. I would have no problem with this if prospective hoteliers are required to COMPETE through a bid for the right to the property. This ensures the city the best financial deal, and would be far different from building a stadium at huge taxpayer expense for a multimillionaire to operate his business.

    I’m very wary of the race to the bottom to attract business (remember the frenzy trying to get Northrop Grumman?) I’m from the Midwest, and I’ve seen city after city sell their souls and birthrights to attract business and wind up far in the hole. The result is no tax base and a crappy city where no legitimate business wants to locate. Patiently attract legit businesses that want to pay a fair share of taxes and we get a city that has the great services (schools, police, streets, parks) that attract even better businesses. Otherwise, its empty warehouses and strip malls from the Potomac to the Anacostia, that home dwellers have to subsidize. I don’t call that good for business. Lets not prostitute DC. Offer a fair incentive for prospective hoteliers. Get the best deal we can. Plan for slow growth from the property and cut our losses.

    • Many studies by the hospitality industry have proven that every $1 spent by a location on tourism/meeting infrastructure brings in $7-$12 in return (via taxes, etc). $12 was before the recession, but even now I read an article in Convene in the last two months that it’s still $7.

      And, if DC doesn’t help them with a tax abatement for their hotel, there are 100 other cities that would.

  • Despite the knee-jerk reactions and some of the more thoughtful concerns discussed here, offering this abatement is a no-brainer for the city and I hope the council thinks it through and sees it that way too.

    I’ve attended some local meetings to find out more information on the project and have spoken to folks on both sides of the abatement issue, and have yet to hear a sound argument against the abatement. I am in no way affiliated with the project or any group advocating for the hotel. Just an AdMo resident trying to stay informed.

    Please hear me out:

    The obvious reason to be in favor of the abatement is that the city will receive very little in tax revenue from the properties otherwise (and $0 from the church itself). The $16,000 DC receives annually from the adjoining properties (whose tenants are planning to vacate anyway) would be dwarfed by the millions of dollars in receipts from lodging and sales taxes the city would receive from a hotel of the size proposed.

    Despite the relative strength of the local economy, there are many un-or-underemployed in the DC area who would appreciate another large employer in a close-in neighborhood. They don’t always run the same circles as federal employees or lawyers, but I do I know some personally and I can’t imagine the people I know are alone. The city’s unemployment rate supports my anecdotal argument.

    Adams Morgan is a wonderful neighborhood, but business has become even more heavily skewed towards bars supported almost entirely by MD and VA 20 year olds on Friday and Saturday and less towards the shops and restaurants that cater to the neighborhood. The hotel guests would provided dramatic support to current retail shops in the corridor (those that do not necessarily benefit from the Friday and Saturday night crowds) and probably offer an opportunity for other creative restaurants and shops to join the neighborhood.

    I haven’t seen the inside of the building but it’s supposed to be beautiful. Preservation of the building in line with strict (and expensive) regulations is one of the reasons a tax abatement is necessary to get the project off the ground. During a neighborhood meeting, I heard a DC preservationist speak on the issue and she is very much in favor of the proposal. According to her, the church will require significant private or government funding to maintain. The alternative is to let the gem continue to crumble and go underutilized, if used at all.

    Turns out that many DC hotels have been enticed with Tax Increment Financing (see: Some TIFs were handed out during the boom years. An abatement is a much better deal for the city, as it does not require the city to fork out cash up front (in the form of a loan) in order to get a project off the ground. What makes it an even better deal, again, is that the opportunity lost on the church property itself is zero. Not even the congregation wants the building, since they can’t afford to maintain.

    The tax abatement in this case is a very good deal. For the city, for Adams Morgan residents, for Adams Morgan businesses, and yes, for the developers (who are ponying up a significant amount of cash during an uncertain time in which many investors are still hoarding cash).

    Let’s hope the council does the logical thing and accepts the abatement. If they do, let’s get together as a community and make sure our needs are considered once the development begins. For example, will parking be sufficient, how will deliveries be made, will its size have a negative impact on the neighborhood’s skyline, etc…

    Give the man his abatement.

  • Are we forgetting there are several of the city’s largest hotels just over the bridge in Woodley? And their daytime retail scene is pretty dead. How about a charter school instead?

    • Yr right yr right. Woodley is on hard times these days. We should just build another charter school. That’ll bolster the books and. wait. WHAT?

  • The Washington Edition Hotel project site comprises three parcels assembled at the intersection of Euclid and Champlain Streets, two of which (the church and the church parking lot) currently provide no real property tax revenue to the city.

    The third parcel, 2390 Champlain (to be razed), occupied by Washington City Paper, FM radio station WPFW, City Bike’s repair shop and some more offices currently pays $91,508 in real property taxes per year.

    What needs to be made clear is that an abatement is not a subsidy and that the only real and effective loss of real property tax revenue to the city are these annual real property taxes ($91,508) currently being paid on 2390 Champlain (or $1.4 million over the 15 years.)

    It is very complex and quite difficult to put together the essential risk taking, private capital, and considerable further financing of any hotel development, especially within the harsh economic situation the private sector finds itself now as we approach 2011.

    For those of you with mindsets developed from comfortable no risk public sector positions (of which we have so many in Washington, D.C.), the revenues that support you come from tax revenue extracted from a currently diminishing private sector that provides for everyone and very much needs to grow.

    Urban construction in 2010 is not expensive, it is extremely expensive to build in the inner city surrounded by neighbors that live and work around your construction 24/7.

    According to the D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer’s July 2010 report for this project:

    Land acquisition is $ 17 million

    Hard construction costs: $ 71 million

    Soft construction costs: $ 39 million

    Total development cost: $ 127 million

    That’s $730,000 per hotel room.

    If you’re an innkeeper, there is no fast buck in the hospitality business. It’s all long term, and very high maintenance, 24/7/365.

    Frankly, this is a no brainer and any group willing to risk and invest in this neighborhood, at this address, and in this current economic environment should be more than welcomed.

    We all know of the huge and immeasurable benefits of having an internationally known hospitality and entertainment pioneer set up shop at this location, what a tremendous catalyst of economic activity this development would bring to Adams Morgan, and would still further garner incrementally more private investment in the years to come bringing positive, upscale change one address at a time to this area.

    This will be a five star boutique hotel by New York hotelier Ian Schrager and lifelong Washingtonian innkeeper Bill Marriott as they roll out their new brand of international five star boutique Edition Hotels:

    Its design incorporates the existing church structure into the hotel complex, donates 4,000 square feet of community meeting space and offices for area non profits to use within a total 180,000 square feet. 

    With its own multiple level underground parking (160 spaces) the hotel will rise 9 stories with 174 rooms, a swimming pool, and six restaurants within the hotel complex to be known as The Washington Edition Hotel with entrances on both Euclid and Champlain Streets subsequent to PUD approval.

    The development of this hotel will be a great signature milestone in the history of the neighborhood.

    Seize the day.

    This high end boutique will be the anchor attraction and make Adams Morgan more of a world destination in our nation’s capital for an even more diverse crowd than it is now -including a clientele willing to spend $400 plus a night for a hotel room (a decade from now $500).

    The permanent tax base and the real property tax revenues after the 15 year abatement will amount to millions in revenues to the city from a church property that currently provides zero. 

    Honestly, how can you argue and say no ?

    Carpe Diem.

    • and another + 1. Seems to me the knee jerks are against the hotel and the long and thoughtful comments are coming from those in favor. Hmmm.

      • Length of an argument says little about its validity. The bottom line is that this property could easily attract interest WITHOUT the abatement. So why give one out? Who profits? Who is getting a kickback?

        • I hear you on the kickback issue…with this city’s history of corruption, it’s a reasonable concern. Moreover, I think we all agree that this property seems to have tremendous value at first glance.

          That said, what type of investment (of a similar multi-million $ scale) is so easy to attract to this location?
          – Apt/Condo market is dead.
          – Restaurants are much smaller scale and unstable investments.
          – Major retailers and companies who want “high sqft” offices don’t like locations that far from Metro.
          – Area not zoned for manufacturing.

          Which other high capital value projects would be left?

          Frankly I was surprised that a high-end hotelier like Ian Schrager was even thinking of Ad-Mo…I thought it would be insufficiently “shi-shi” and too far from DC’s equivalents of “midtown Manhattan”.

          • “What other projects?”

            Well, that’s the question. But the city isn’t asking the question or letting the public ask the question. Instead, it’s committing our tax dollars without stopping to even find out what other kinds of development might be interested in the location. Put out a request for proposals and see what comes back. If the best option is a tax abatement for a luxury hotel, so be it. My hunch is there are other options out there that aren’t being explored because someone or someones are gonna get PAID on this outside the lines.

  • I’m not so sure the type of person who spends $400/night on a hotel room is of the demographic that will be going down the street for a jumbo slice and then heading up Columbia Rd. to pick up a counterfeit social security card and some bootlegged DVDs.

  • Where are WPFW and the City Paper going to go?

  • Why do all the pro hotel arguments read like elaborate PR statements from people with something to gain?

    • Why do all the anti hotel arguments read like NIMBY diatribes from someone in Loudon County with no vision?

      • Those are the people who are going to own the hotel, you’ve got it backwards. Let me tell you who is going to be a NIMBY – some jack ass who pays $400+ a night to get no sleep in Adams Morgan…

        • A lot of people seem to be lumping the $400 proposed AdMo hotel patrons in with the $400 Mandarin/Willard patrons–very different crowds. I would agree with you that many folks staying at the current slew of $400+ hotels in DC would most likely not appreciate the AdMo experience–at least not in its current form.

          High-end boutique hotels are going up in edgier neighborhoods all over the world–check out the latest Daily Candy where the Galatasaray House Hotel I just visited is mentioned:

          I’m no hospitality expert by any means, but it would appear that the trend is moving away from stayed and isolated tourist-only zones and towards smaller-scale boutique hotels that are truly integrated into their neighborhood environs.

          I believe in the Adams Morgan–and nearby U Street/14th Street/Dupont Circle/Woodley Park–experience. I’d want to stay in a hotel like this if I was visiting DC–I would just wait until I could find a better deal online . . . .

      • what a strange insult,”someone in Loudon County with no vision”.
        why did you pick Loudon County? do you view all those that disagree with you as lacking vision?

        may i suggest a few other insults to use:
        One Eyed Fairfax Yahoo
        Half Blind Gaithersburg Troglodyte
        Intellectually Stymied Manassahole
        Dumfries Resident with 3 Toes
        Silver Spring Gimpy

    • Well, not true in my case. As I said in my post, I’m just a resident.

      If my post reads like a press release, that’s probably because I couldn’t find many arguments against the abatement. There is very little doubt that the city will be better off financially from bringing this hotel in than it would if the building were to remain church property or vacant.

      To me, concerns about noise, congestion, height, etc. are much more reasonable. NIMBYism is understandable. Some Adams Morgan residents who have been around awhile may understandably not want to look up and see their neighborhood’s skyline different. Maybe it makes sense to address those concerns maybe it doesn’t, but I think that has little bearing on the abatement bill itself.

      To those who suggest opening up the property to other ideas, my understanding is that it was considered for condos at some point, then retail. But a hotel is the most appropriate business for the spot and I think we’re somewhat lucky to get that kind of investment in this type of economy. If you ask me, it’s better for the neighborhood and the building that it be a high-end hotel, rather than a Holiday Inn, simply because that will bring more money to the city coffers and nearby retail and is more likely to preserve the building.

  • Well, this will make it so much more convenient for me to resent the rich. Me, I’m just a poor gentrifier. No way I could afford a $410/night hotel.

  • I love the idea of a hotel there, as a resident of Columbia Heights with not enough room to host family when they come, but it doesn’t sound like it is going to be a very cost-friendly option. Someone mentioned a Courtyard-like place turning into one big slumber party for Adams Morgan partiers, but I guess I’m not sure who, with $400/night to spend, is going to want to stay up in Adams Morgan. It’s not that convenient for business travelers, and if you’re there for the nightlife or to visit friends in the area, the price is too steep. I’d favor a lower-end option and agree with the posters who question why there hasn’t been more of an open and inclusive bidding process, if there’s a tax abatement incentive on the table. Enjoyed a stay at the Hudson in NY but I don’t know that there’s enough nearby (besides late night spots) at Euclid & Champlain to justify someone dropping big bucks on a too-upscale hotel in the area (both from a developer standpoint and a DC visitor standpoint). All that said, I do love to see vacant properties turned into something — just wish it didn’t seem like a foregone conclusion that this is our only option and we have to give them a huge tax break to make it happen.

    • some people have no vision. Adams Morgan is not frozen in time you know. We are about to have a major street scape overhaul that will be complete before the hotel would even break ground. Do you remember what adams morgan was like 5-10 years ago? What do you think it will look like 10 years from now? Seriously people. There is a reason they are willing to come here. But also a reason they need the extra incentive. It’s all in their PDF. The city would obviously NOT be giving an abatement to a HoJos as that will not do anything for adams morgan or the city. We are talking about taxing FOUR HUNDRED dollar a night rooms. and eventually fully taxing a Hotel worth 20x that of a Days Inn. DC will make out like bandits in the long run.

  • I dont think the people who are saying that there would be interest from other developers without an abatement. This might be true. But those developments would be nowhere near as grandious. They would in all likelyhood be Condos have the size of this building and pay nowhere NEAR the amount of taxes the hotel would even after the 45mil is taken into consideration. Once the abatement is met the city literally rakes it in. It is plainly the better long term investment for the city and is why cities consider such abatements in the first place. In this case it serves the added purpose of raising the stature of Adams Morgan and bolstering its economy. Which regardless of what many seem to think is not stable at all. Hence the high rate of turn over and various long term vacancies. I simply do not understand how anyone living in or near our neighborhood would be against this. Abatements are used to lure big businesses to DC all the time. At least in this case it will provide jobs to district residents, revitalize a neighborhood, and restore a vacant historic property. Forgive me if I’m having trouble seeing the downside here.

  • And who’s going to pay $400 a night to stay at this hotel after word gets out that the murderous part of Adams Morgan is about a block away?

  • Also has anyone noticed the Anti hotel people contradict themselves. Their two major arguments seem to be:

    -This property is SO prime you don’t need to lure development. It’s a goldmine!


    -Who is going to pay 400 a night to stay in that ghetto location?


    • Oh I think people will spend the money on the rooms. The hotel wouldn’t build if it didn’t think it could lure suckers, I mean visitors.

      But the truth is that the property is prime, and could attract interest without the abatement.

      • Sure, but not interest for projects that would pay back as well as the Hotel. You people are failing to see the intricacies of the big picture. You see the 45mil abatement is an INVESTMENT. We grant it now, and collect on the back end. We don’t grant it now and a smaller, most likely residential, project goes in years from now and pays back unremarkable returns. The difference, in other words, from the Lux Hotel and what would go there without an abatement is far more than 45m. And this doesn’t account for the economic impact it will have on the surrounding area. or the fact that the city gets a nicely preserved historic structure out of the deal to boot. Pretty much a winning scenario.

  • I think it could be worthwhile to have this tax abatement despite the city’s current financial conditions. However, there have been numerous tax abatements and deals given to developers in the area in the last decade. The city needs to do an independent assessment of how much revenue they are bringing in balanced against the loss due to the abatement/loan/TIF. Then I think it would be easier for developers and their backers to advocate for these types of deals. I know it varies by the circumstances of each project, but it would be nice to bring some kind of figures into the discussion.

  • Im just shocked the anti-hotel people prefer to leave it as a vacant, non-tax paying property than granting the property tax abatement and receiving millions in sales tax from the hotel rooms, the restaurant receipts and the bar receipts that would pour out of the new hotel.
    The recommendation to turn this into a charter school is a perfect example of how fiscally backwards the naysayers are…”lets leave it as a non-tax paying church, or repurpose it as a non-taxpaying school…everyone wins!”
    Wrong, the District loses because it loses a long-term tax goldmine in order to appease a bunch of cynics more concerned with not getting screwed or “not getting my share” than the fiscal realities of the city. To make money you have to invest money, and that is what the city is willing to do to make the project a reality.

    • They can’t grasp that we are not GIVING them 45 million. Just telling the developers that they DON’T need to give US 45 mil, because they are giving us something far FAR more valuable in the long run, and even short term when you consider we are making next to nothing in taxes on the site as it is. They think we are paying them to build this hotel and that the alternative is that a project just as ambitious, that will produce just as much in taxes will suddenly throw their hat in and build without “getting paid” 45 mil.
      In reality the alternative is more likely to be that it sits empty for a few more years. Then Douglas Jemal will buy it. Let it sit vacant for several MORE years. Then turn it into a low rise condo complex. And DC will never ever reap any rewards it could have.

      • NOOOOO!

        Your Douglas scenario is like a DC Development Horror Film…protagonist *almost* makes it out alive, only to be dragged screaming back into the darkness…

        • Just look at the Babes Billiards fiasco. That wasn’t about abatements. Rather some nimbys didnt want the building to be too tall. The developers said it had to be tall to be viable. The nimbys disagreed and said the location was so Prime it would be viable as a lowrise building. Here we are over a decade later. Jemal owns it and it has been vacant all this time. Could have been have been an excellent Transit Oriented development contributing taxes and to the economy of Tenley town all these years. But hey. Nimbys know best!

  • Here’s a link to some existing aerials and exterior views together with proposed site and elevation plans and isometric conceptual drawings of the Washington Edition Hotel from every street/alley angle and approach provided by the developer to Kalorama Citizens Association and just posted:

  • A little late to the thread but…when are we going to have an answer on whether this hotel will be built? it does not specifically say in the article.

    • -maybe when all of the ANC nimby a-holes losers with so much time on their hands, have nothing better to do then to stick their noses in everybody’s private business and stop giving the hotel developer such a hard time going on four years now.

      Look at the numbers, it is indeed a no brainer. These same losers in their private lives each have to put their stamp on the project and will later seek credit for its development and construction.

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