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Posted at 5:10 PM ET, 03/29/2010

Judge dismisses convention center suit

By Washington Post editors

7 P.M. UPDATE: A court ruling issued Monday appeared to dismiss a complaint that threatened a new convention center hotel in the District.

An order by D.C. Superior Court judge Natalia Combs Greene, made public Monday, dismissed two counts of a lawsuit filed in September.

Original post: D.C. Attorney General Peter J. Nickles announced Monday that litigation that threatened a new convention center hotel has been put on hold for three weeks while the parties negotiate a settlement.

“I’m quite hopeful that within three weeks, all the issues will be resolved,” Nickles said.

Last fall, the District’s 11-year quest for a high-end hotel to draw convention visitors seemed to be a go after the city agreed to finance the project with $206 million. But a company controlled by developer JBG Companies sued the city in D.C. Superior Court, alleging favoritism in the bidding process. The city selected Bethesda-based Marriott to develop a 14-story Marriott Marquis across the street from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Wardman Investor claimed the city acted illegally by negotiating exclusively with Marriott.

This isn't the first time there have been disputes between JBG and Marriott. JBG bought the Wardman Park hotel with another company in 2005, and planned to convert hundreds of rooms to condominiums. JBG managing partner Ben Jacobs said in an interview in January that a flat hotel market and competition from a convention center hotel would threaten the Wardman.

Marriott countersued JBG in January, alleging that the company’s lawsuit is part of an "extortionate plan" to stop construction of the convention center hotel and force Marriott to renegotiate Wardman Park’s management agreement.

Nickles said Mayor Adrian M. Fenty asked him three weeks ago to get the parties to the table to discuss a settlement. “The District has played the appropriate role as facilitator,” he said. But while the city has an interest in preserving its deal with Marriott, Nickles said any settlement will involve the hotel chain and JBG only. “The District is not going to put any more money into this hotel.”

— Lisa Rein

By Washington Post editors  | March 29, 2010; 5:10 PM ET
Categories:  DC  
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