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Chicago hotel firm offers record-breaking $168.9M for Four Seasons

Strategic Hotel Capital Inc. announced today it has a contract to buy the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown for $168.9 million, the highest price per room ever for a D.C. hotel. Washington Business Journal reported Jan. 6 that the hotel was on the market for about $170 million, or $800,000 a room.

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Amazing! :shok:

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Especially so as the building is atrocious. It's still a very, very well run hotel, however. The price doesn't really surprise me because trophy hotels have been fetching some truly stratospheric prices lately. F.S. will continue to manage the property, so this amounts to a mere transfer of ownership. I doubt much will change at the hotel. They have recently renovated their rooms, though most of the public spaces look much as before.

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One of D.C.'s biggest office buildings sold

Somerset Partners has acquired the 563,000-square-foot office building at 1801 K St. NW -- one of the largest privately owned office buildings in the city -- from Starwood Real Estate Group. The purchase price was not disclosed.

The 13-story building, which has entrances on both K and L streets, was built in 1971. Tenants include Borders, Bank of America, Navigant Consulting and Cushman & Wakefield.

Somerset, a New York-based private investment firm, plans a major capital improvement program and expects to announce an architect in the next few weeks.

The exterior rehab will feature a glass curtainwall providing floor-to-ceiling windows, while interior improvements will include an upgraded lobby, elevators, restrooms and HVAC system. Construction is expected to begin late this year; the building will remain occupied during construction.

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Great....another glass curtain wall to look at. Just what we need. Actually, almost anything would be an improvement. I work not too far from there. I'll have to watch for the "improvements" as they progress.

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With Money in the Bank, District Decides to Spend It

The District ended the 2005 fiscal year with a $370 million surplus, but all of it -- and more -- has already been allocated, city financial officials said yesterday.

City leaders voted last year to spend the surplus, plus $236 million in reserves, on capital projects such as recreation centers and road improvements and on retiree health benefits.

That spending will cause the city's total reserve funds to dip for the first time in 11 years, Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi said. But the District will have more than $1 billion in the bank, compared with its $518 million deficit in 1996, when Congress appointed a control board to oversee the city's finances

Gandhi, who released the annual audit of the city's finances at the mayor's weekly news briefing yesterday, pointed to the city's ninth consecutive balanced budget and the continued growth in tax revenues as examples of the city's continuing financial health.

"D.C. is on an economic roll," he said, describing the city's residential property market as one of the hottest in the country and its commercial market as one of the hottest in the world.

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Goodbye Hecht's

I must confess that I never grew too fond of the Hecht Company. Their stores were always just ok, but nothing too special. Garfinckel's and Woodie's were more to my liking. Still, it's sad to see another regional name disappear from the local scene. All of the Hecht's stores are being converted to Macy's or Bloomingdale's. I assume that the big Hecht store downtown will become a Macy's, but a Bloomingdale's would be better. From the Washington Post.

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Wal-Mart, Texas bank roll into area

Wal-Mart's biggest banking partner plans to open its first in-store branch in Greater Washington this summer.

Houston-based Woodforest National Bank, now in more than 100 Wal-Mart stores in Texas and North Carolina, filed an application with the Virginia State Corporate Commission Jan. 25 to set up a branch in a Manassas Wal-Mart.

The Manassas branch is scheduled to open by this summer, according to Wal-Mart spokesman Marty Heires.

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Wireless outfit eyes Prince William for new HQ

A local tech company hunting for a new headquarters may join the march to Prince William County's signature business park.

Manassas-based Earthwalk Communications is negotiating with the county to buy five acres in Innovation @ Prince William, where it would build a new home and bring 100 jobs. The price tag: $1 million.

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I think GMU's Prince William campus is near innovation @ prince william.... it's also the home of GMU's National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases.... they are getting ready to build a biodefense containment and research facility there.

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XM Satellite Radio loses $666.7M in 2005

XM Satellite Radio reported sales increases and much higher losses for the fourth quarter several days after director Pierce Roberts Jr. resigned and warned of a "crisis." The D.C. company's stock price fell 5 percent, or by $1.27, to close at $23.98 Thursday.

The broadcaster generated fourth-quarter sales of $177.1 million, compared with $83.1 million a year earlier and 2005 sales of $558.3 million, compared with $244.4 million in 2004.

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You would think with all the new subs they would be doing better financially. Originally, they charged subs $10 a month and now it's up to about $13 a month. -_-

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Northern Virginia job growth slows

The pace of job growth in Northern Virginia slowed last year, but was still triple the job growth statewide, and Northern Virginia continues to account for almost all new jobs created in the commonwealth.

The Virginia Employment Commission says the Northern Virginia region ended 2005 with nearly 1.3 million jobs. That is up 3 percent from 2004, compared to a job growth rate of 5 percent the previous year. Northern Virginia accounted for 93.9 percent of all new jobs created in Virginia last year.

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Dulles prepares to start work on fourth runway

One of the biggest pieces of Dulles International Airport's $3.4 billion upgrade is starting to take shape.

A request for proposals has been issued for tree clearing, excavation and other prep work for a fourth runway. And the federal government has agreed to help out in a big way -- U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta signed a letter of intent Feb. 21 to provide $200 million in federal funds toward the project's total cost of $356 million.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which operates the airport, hasn't set a starting date for the construction but expects the project to be ready sometime in 2008, says spokeswoman Tara Hamilton. "It's on schedule to be finished within a two-year period."

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Metro pushes Verizon to open wireless network

The typically advertising-phobic transit authority also will seek more multimedia ad opportunities

Suddenly, Metro is truly opening its doors. And some say it's opening Pandora's Box.

In the next few months, the perpetually underfunded Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority will embrace two strategies previously considered taboo for "America's subway": advertising and wireless competition.

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I wonder if Dulles will EVER be finished lol...

Probably not! Especially as the sprawl continues at such a rapid pace going thru Loudon County. <_<

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The rate of land consumption in Loudoun really seems unhealthy....

Very unhealthy.

With reference to the advertising blitz on the Metro, I suppose we could keep taxes down too by selling ad space on the Capitol dome. Aren't we already surrounded by enough ads down there?

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Mayor pitches official plan for convention hotel

Three years after the District's $850 million convention center opened, Mayor Tony Williams has sent the D.C. Council his plan to build and finance a long-promised headquarters hotel to serve it.

Williams wants to use up to $187 million in tax increment financing (TIF) from the city to help pay for the $650 million hotel, most of which will be privately financed by Marriott International and Bob Johnson's RLJ Development.

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IT hiring on the rise in DC area

If you are looking for an IT job in the area you may be in luck. According to the latest Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report, 15 percent of chief information officers plan to hire people in the Washington area in the second quarter of this year. Eighteen percent say they plan to add to their current staff during the quarter while 3 percent plan to make IT job cuts.

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Jemal's Woodies building could fetch $250 million

Developer Douglas Jemal is shopping the Woodies building, his flagship downtown retail and office property, to investors.

He bought the long-empty Woodward & Lothrop department store from the Washington Opera in 1999 for $28.2 million. Almost six years later, after getting a preservation-friendly renovation and a handful of tenants, the 500,000-square-foot building is worth an estimated $250 million, according to industry analysts.

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Data Center Planned in Northern Virginia

$80 Million Project in Prince William Part of Upswing in Speculative Development

A new Alexandria-based partnership plans to build an $80 million data center in Prince William County, the latest in a resurgence of speculative commercial development in the region and a bet that the technology sector will remain strong.

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Hotel Washington to be Sold for $120 M

The grand old Hotel Washington, famed for its roof garden, will be sold to the Westbrook Partners for $120 m. While this isn't a stratospheric price, the hotel needs considerable work. Never as fancy as the neighboring Willard, the building has excellent bones and could well be repositioned as one of the top hotels in town. It was owned by the Moody family of Galveston, also owners of San Antonio's Menger Hotel. I wonder what the future will bring for this property.....Look for lots of upgrades and likely very, very expensive rooms here.

Article from MSNBC

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Hotel Washington to be Sold for $120 M

The grand old Hotel Washington, famed for its roof garden, will be sold to the Westbrook Partners for $120 m. While this isn't a stratospheric price, the hotel needs considerable work. Never as fancy as the neighboring Willard, the building has excellent bones and could well be repositioned as one of the top hotels in town. It was owned by the Moody family of Galveston, also owners of San Antonio's Menger Hotel. I wonder what the future will bring for this property.....Look for lots of upgrades and likely very, very expensive rooms here.

Article from MSNBC

In a way I guess this is good news, although I do lament the lost of yet another median priced hotel downtown. So many middle class folks who come to city have no choice but to stay in the suburbs because hotel rooms are becoming too expensive downtown.

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You are right about mid-priced hotels being scarce on the ground in DC these days. Even places like Residence Inns are charging over $300.00 per night when they can get away with it (most of the time). Hotels are ridiculously expensive here.

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Inova plans massive research facility in Loudoun

Inova Health System will announce Tuesday plans for a 500,000-square-foot research center in Loudoun County for international scientists who will focus on cutting-edge topics such as proteomics.

The facility, just outside Leesburg, will be called the Inova L.I.F.E. Center, short for Loudoun and Inova Future of Excellence.

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A landmark gives way to Glebe Road revitalization

The curtain has fallen on the spacious showroom at Bob Peck Chevrolet, which will shut down April 29 to make way for yet another redevelopment project on the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. Don Peck, president of Bob Peck Chevrolet in Arlington, sold the dealership

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