Design & Home

GWU to Sell Dorm Once Used as Hideout for Watergate Burglars

The George Washington University is searching for a real-estate broker to facilitate the possible sale of a dorm that was once the hotel where the perpetrators of the 1972 Watergate burglary stayed while planning their ill-fated heist. The school announced Monday that it is considering unloading the Hall on Virginia Avenue, at 2601 Virginia Ave., Northwest, instead of converting into housing for graduate students and faculty.

GWU closed the building, which goes by the shorthand name HOVA, in spring 2014 when it was a crumbling residence hall for graduate students. The now-50-year-old building was notorious around campus for its frequent reports of yellow water and rodent infestations, according to the Hatchet. The $35 million renovation that commenced in May 2014 is designed to upgrade the building with more common areas and 120 studio and multi-room units.

Since the dorm closed, though, GW has been approached with offers on the building, which is surely alluring for its extensive facelift and Foggy Bottom location. “Since HOVA closed for renovation, we have received interest from potential buyers and university leadership believed it was prudent to fully consider all available options,” Alicia Knight, GW’s senior associate vice president for operations, says in a press release.

The university says it aims to find a broker by the end of 2015 and list the building in early 2016, though it has not determined a sale price yet. The building has been assessed at $25.6 million, according to DC property tax records.

Constructed in 1965 as a Howard Johnson hotel, the building was etched into history in May 1972 when former FBI agent Alfred Baldwin checked into room 419 and started scoping out the offices of the Democratic National Committee on the sixth floor of the Watergate office building across the street. Baldwin and future burglars G. Gordon Liddy and James McCord also used room 723 during their planning of the June 17 break-in.

The decision to sell HOVA leaves questions about GW’s plans for graduate-student and faculty housing. “We are pursuing the possible sale of HOVA after receiving interest from potential buyers and in effort to fully consider all available options,” Knight says in an email to Washingtonian. “The university is currently building District House, an undergraduate residence hall, but that residence hall project was developed separately and for a different use than HOVA.”

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Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.