Jack Olender is DC’s best-known medical-malpractice attorney. But after living in the Watergate East co-op for 15 years, he has a new cause: saving the Watergate Hotel from a condo conversion.
Olender and others in the co-op own 25 percent of the hotel, including the ballroom and some of the space where Jean Louis Palladin’s restaurant once was. The hotel leases the space for $12 a year.
Olender says that before the hotel’s new owners change the zoning from hotel to condos, his approval and that of his neighbors is required. And that approval is not going to come from Olender. He is one of the hotel’s most loyal patrons, reserving rooms for clients, family members, and the celebrities who attend his annual Olender Foundation dinners.
The issue is now being battled out in the DC Court of Appeals.
When Olender enters a courtroom against a doctor, it is hard to bet against him. But in the zoning field, he is probably a long shot to stop the condo project, which will ultimately result in the end of the stores and shops that hotel visitors support.
There are some powerful people living in Watergate South, including Condoleezza Rice, Bob and Elizabeth Dole, and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; however, they’re not a party to Olender’s cause. “The famous people all live in the other building,” he says.
Which goes to show, Olender says, that even at the Watergate he ends up representing the little people.