Choice Hotels International Inc. (NYSE: CHH) has struck a deal to bring its Cambria Hotel & Suites brand to a planned development site in Buzzard Point, the Southwest D.C. neighborhood where D.C. United plans to host the first home game at its new Audi Field stadium later this year.
The Rockville hotel chain has signed on with an affiliate of Michigan-based Kouza Cos., which plans to develop a 154-room, nine-story hotel at an assemblage of residential properties on the northwest corner of Half and Q streets SW. The project would be the first locally for Kouza, whose company owns or manages two dozen hotels in other parts of the country, though it is familiar with the D.C. area. The hotel will be developed by Kouza affiliate Koucar Management LLC.
“This is a pretty big undertaking with this project, and we want to get it done and make it a great success, we want to do it right,” said Kouza principal Joe Caradonna, who declined to disclose the project’s development costs.
Kouza has retained architecture firm BBGM for the development, which is slated to open in 2020 and will feature a gastropub and rooftop bar, among other amenities. The hotel, which would be Choice’s second Cambria in the District, will also include a 2,500-square-foot multifunction space and a fitness center catering to business and leisure travelers.
Kouza helped another one of its clients expand into the D.C. area, and Chris Kouza, of the Kouza Cos., said that exposure alerted the company to the energy building in Buzzard Point. There are a number of other projects planned for the area, where a development team including Akridge hopes to launch its $250 million River Point development in the second quarter, and Caradonna said he sees the area as ripe for a new hotel offering.
“We were checking out the various different areas of development and found it very interesting how everything was coming together around the new soccer stadium,” Kouza said. Choice has been seeking to expand its higher-end Cambria and Ascend lines, and Caradonna said it picked the Southwest D.C. neighborhood as part of that expansion given the area’s potential.
“We think the area’s going to continue to gentrify and be redeveloped there,” Caradonna said. “We see, in the next five years, this area, the Buzzard Point area, is going to look like the rest of downtown. We think it’s going to be a premier location.”
Kouza hopes to close later this year on its acquisition of the nine-parcel real estate assemblage as part of a deal brokered by Marcus & Millichap’s Zupancic and Feldman groups. Kouza declined to disclose the sale price, but the properties are assessed at a combined $3.3 million, according to D.C. land records.
Marcus & Millichap brought Kouza into the picture after another developer decided the proposed assemblage was too big for it. The idea for a hotel project wasn’t the obvious choice from the start but evolved over time in consultation with Kouza, said Christian Barreiro, who brokered the deal along with Dennis Cravedi and Marty Zupancic with the Zupancic Group and Ian Ruel and Josh Feldman with the Feldman Group.
“I wouldn’t say the site was assembled with the knowledge that it was going to be a hotel, but at the end of the day, we always knew that it was a good market and a market that was ready for a hotel,” Barreiro said.
D.C. United will officially open Audi Field on July 14 in a match against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
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