Washington Hilton completes $150-million restoration

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Nearly three years to the day after announcing plans for a top-to-bottom overhaul of the iconic Washington Hilton near Dupont Circle, property owners Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds and Lowe Enterprises joined with Hilton executives today to mark the completion of a $150 million renovation encompassing all guest rooms, common areas, ballroom complex and exhibition spaces.

CJUF and Lowe acquired the property on May 31, 2007 in what was one of the largest hotel acquisitions in Washington D.C. history.  CJUF is a joint venture between Canyon Capital Realty Advisors and basketball legend-turned entrepreneur Earvin “Magic” Johnson.  Based in Los Angeles, CJUF is one of the largest private real estate funds focused on the development and repositioning of urban properties in the United States.  Los Angeles-based Lowe Enterprises is a leading national real estate investment, development and management firm with extensive experience in the hospitality industry.
“When we purchased the hotel in 2007, we made a commitment to make the necessary investments to restore this hotel and position it for success for decades to come,” said CJUF Managing Partner Bobby Turner.  “Today, we celebrate the realization of the promise we made to restore this tremendous landmark.”

At a news conference, Johnson joined with Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and other executives to roll out the red carpet for a new generation of guests to the iconic hotel that has been the site of prestigious gatherings hosted by U.S. presidents, world leaders and other prominent figures since opening in 1965.

“We made a significant commitment to this property and to the entire Washington D.C. community, and we delivered on the promise,” Johnson said.  “This goes to the very heart of what Canyon Johnson is all about – investing in urban communities and serving as a catalyst for more redevelopment,” he said.
The Washington Hilton is located in a densely-populated urban neighborhood and employs hundreds of people. Set on five acres on Connecticut Avenue near Dupont Circle, the Washington Hilton is in the heart of one of the area’s most desirable and distinctive shopping, dining and residential neighborhoods.  Its proximity to government and cultural institutions also make it a premier destination for both business and leisure travelers.  

“The District applauds Magic Johnson, Canyon-Johnson and Lowe for honoring their commitment to invest in the District of Columbia, despite the dark economic clouds during this three-year renovation,” said Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty.  “Not only have they breathed new life into the hotel, but they’ve also secured its role as an economic driver for years to come.”

Executives from Lowe Enterprises oversaw the extensive renovation program from major new construction to detailed design features.  The hotel’s new interiors highlight the property’s historic mid-century modern style and distinct features and amenities while introducing fresh, functional and timeless décor.  

“Lowe Enterprises has been an owner and investor in D.C. area real estate for decades and we appreciated the rare opportunity to restore and enhance this irreplaceable property. Our team’s extensive experience in both commercial and hospitality development and operations was the ideal combination to lead the renovation of the Washington Hilton,” said Robert J. Lowe, chairman and CEO, Lowe Enterprises.

The restoration of the property included a makeover of all 1,070 guestrooms, meeting rooms and function spaces, the lobby, restaurants and all public areas.  All guestrooms have seen wall-to-wall updates including new color schemes, window treatments, bedding, floor and wall coverings, as well as new flat-panel HDTVs and updated bathrooms. The hotel’s renewed 110,000 square foot function space now features a new 30,000 square foot multi-purpose addition, named Columbia Hall.  The hall has a network of moveable walls, allowing for maximum flexibility to create areas ranging from 900 to 7,800 square feet of social and exhibition space.  

Also, the new Heights Executive Meeting Center includes nine meeting rooms designed to accommodate the latest technology, 24-hour food and beverage service and new restroom facilities.  An adjacent courtyard offers amazing views of the nation’s capital.
Extensive modifications have also been made to the hotel’s 36,000 square-foot International Ballroom complex, the site of the only official inaugural ball for President Barack Obama.  The ballroom complex was reconfigured to handle multiple groups and events simultaneously, and can now hold up to 4,200 people for a reception, and 2,600 for a seated dinner.

 From its location at the original district line separating Washington City and Washington County during the development of the Nation’s Capital, to its listing as a place of significance within the Washington Heights neighborhood on the National Register of Historic Places, Washington Hilton has a place in history unrivaled by other D.C. hotels,” said Ted Ratcliff, senior vice president, Operations East, Hilton Worldwide.”

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