Watergate: Symbol of Two National Crises

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When someone mentions Watergate, I instinctively think of the Nixon scandal and how that event highlighted and even symbolized the problems our country faced. Government was not to be trusted and our leaders were, contrary to their protests, crooks. Even though the event itself was relatively minor and as the subsequent 1972 election results proved, completely unnecessary, it was a microcosm of all that ailed the nation.

Today I read another story about Watergate, this one about how the hotel part of that complex is about to be sold for around $40 million after its previous owner, “an affiliate of Monument Realty, a Washington D.C. developer, and an affiliate of Lehman Brothers Holdings inc.” defaulted on their $43 million dollar loan. They had planned to redevelop the property “into a boutique hotel with some condominium units”. This story seems to feature all the major players of our current crisis: defaulting loans, foreclosure auctions, and of course Lehman Brothers.

The tale seems all too common and unfortunate, a group over leverages itself on a loan for a building, attempts to redevelop it, then defaults as the credit crises hits. Except here it takes place in our nation’s capitol, with regard to an iconic building, which at one point in time was the symbol of high end property. It is an amazing microcosm, reflecting the fall from grace that has befallen our real estate industry. One has to wonder at how a singular building can find itself mirroring the woes of a country so perfectly on two separate occasions.

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