Washington REIT (Washington Real Estate Investment Trust – NYSE: WRE) has signed a contract to acquire 600 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, a 309,000 square foot Class A office building on the Potomac riverfront in Washington, DC, for approximately $135 million ($437 per square foot).
The acquisition is expected to close in early April, subject to satisfaction of closing conditions, and based on the company’s newly provided acquisition and disposition assumptions for 2017. Washington REIT is raising its 2017 guidance range by two cents.
Watergate 600, as it is known, is being sold by Katherine B. Bradley and David G. Bradley, who also control Atlantic Media, publisher of Atlantic Monthly and other award-winning publications. Atlantic Media occupies close to half of Watergate 600 (140,000 SF) under a long-term lease. The Bradleys said: “After a dozen years as owners of Watergate 600 and as anchor tenants through Atlantic Media, we are delighted that the building will become part of Washington REIT. Their vision is consistent with ours, both for the iconic building and for the renewal of the surrounding complex. Washington REIT will be an excellent steward for a unique and treasured asset.”
A portion of the consideration to be received by the seller will consist of operating partnership units (OP units). “By partially structuring this acquisition as an OP unit transaction, we were able to execute a transaction that was mutually beneficial to both parties,” said Paul T. McDermott, President and Chief Executive Officer of Washington REIT. “The structure allowed us to create an efficient execution for a private owner of real estate in the Washington metropolitan area. Under a similar structure, we expect to generate opportunities to acquire additional properties and portfolios from longtime private-sector property owners.”
Built in 1972 and renovated extensively in 1997, the 12-story, 309,387 SF Watergate 600 is one of the six buildings that comprise the internationally recognized Watergate complex. Washington REIT’s latest acquisition enjoys a prominent site directly across from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, with panoramic river views and instant access to Interstate 66. Metrorail’s Foggy Bottom station is located just about a quarter mile away.
“The acquisition of Watergate 600 exemplifies Washington REIT’s office strategy of acquiring high-quality, urban, metro-centric assets and further increases our footprint within prime locations in the District,” noted McDermott. “Following the company’s value-add success at 1775 Eye Street, which was acquired and renovated in 2014, 600 Watergate provides Washington REIT with another excellent opportunity to create value for our shareholders through effective repositioning and leasing.”
While the building is currently 97 percent leased, Washington REIT will have the opportunity to lease approximately 90,000 SF when Blank Rome’s lease expires at the end of the 2018. With the recent $125 million repositioning and 2016 re-opening of the Watergate Hotel, the Watergate complex is experiencing renewed interest from both office and retail tenants.
Based on this interest, Washington REIT plans to refine and complete the significant renovations underway including a lobby expansion and upgrade, major systems upgrades, and expansion of the building’s existing restaurant space to meet demand from Kennedy Center patrons. The new ownership also plans to add a state-of-the-art fitness facility and conference center, while expanding and upgrading the rooftop space.
Washington REIT is a self-administered equity real estate investment trust investing in income-producing properties in the greater Washington metro region. Washington REIT owns a diversified portfolio of 49 properties, totaling approximately six million square feet of commercial space and 4,480 multifamily units, and land held for development. These 49 properties consist of 19 office properties, 16 retail centers, and 14 multifamily properties. Washington REIT shares are publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: WRE). For more information, please visit www.washreit.com.