UIP Buys D.C. Building with a History

Urban Investment Partners plans 250 market-rate units for a former college dorm and hotel that played a cameo role in the Watergate scandal.

By Jeffrey Steele

Urban Investment Partners acquired 2601 Virginia Ave. NW from George Washington University.

Urban Investment Partners acquired 2601 Virginia Ave. NW from George Washington University.

Washington, D.C.—Urban Investment Partners (UIP) has acquired a former George Washington University (GWU) dormitory building at 2601 Virginia Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. for $36 million. UIP plans to develop approximately 200 apartments within the 97,300-square-foot core of the building. It will also build 50 additional units in a new 40,000-square-foot addition on the building’s east side, and create an 8,000- to 10,000-square-foot restaurant and coffee shop on the building’s first floor.

The structure played a cameo role in U.S. history. While the building was a Howard Johnson hotel in 1972, rooms 419 and 723 were used as lookouts during the 1972 burglary of Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate office building. The burglary triggered the Watergate scandal, a chain of events culminating in President Richard Nixon’s resignation.

“We like adaptive reuse of older buildings,” Washington, D.C.-based UIP Principal Steve Schwat told MHN. “The location is great, near Georgetown, the river, Rock Creek Park and Foggy Bottom Metro.”

More than 50 would-be buyers bid on the property, with three vying at the end, Schwat said. He added UIP expects a return in excess of 22 percent IRR over four years.

GWU had used the building as student housing for 17 years. UIP plans to rechristen the building “Boathouse.” The development will provide a number of amenities, including a sprawling rooftop recreational area with views of the river. It will feature a deck, large swimming pool, fire pits, gourmet kitchen and world-class fitness center. Boathouse will also offer a bike-share program, library, multimedia theater and 24-hour honor-based convenience store. The building has underground parking for 200 vehicles. Also offered are bike storage and care facilities with lockers.

The location of the structure in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood will be among its key selling points to prospective residents. It is located near GWU, the John F. Kennedy Center for The Performing Arts and the recently renovated Watergate complex. Georgetown and Foggy Bottom are both nearly entirely built out, with further development severely hamstrung by highly restrictive regulatory covenants.

As calculated on Walkscore.com, Boathouse will have a Walk Score of 86 and a Bike Score of 94, giving building residents outstanding access to the abundance of eateries, retail venues, cultural attractions and recreational opportunities in the area.

Within the past few months, UIP has acquired a trio of American University office buildings, and is transitioning them into new apartment properties. “Converting both hotels and office buildings to multifamily use is not much different from converting older apartment buildings, as we have done all over the city,” Schwat said.