After nearly 60 years, The Inn of Rosslyn is permanently closed.
The Green family, which owned The Inn of Rosslyn and the Americana Hotel in Crystal City — the sale of which was previously reported — has sold both hotels to developer JBG Smith before the new year, according to one family member. The family also sold two apartment buildings: Fern Gardens and Williamsburg Apartments.
“The whole COVID-19 thing has basically bankrupted our businesses,” Katherine Green, whose father built the hotel in 1957, told ARLnow. “There was no other option. There was no end in sight.”
Business looked good, pre-coronavirus. The hotels were generating income, and the general manager of The Americana told Washington Business Journal that 2017 was its best year. But when the economy crashed, Green said she had no income from April 1 until mid-December. (The County records the sales on Dec. 18.) She said a small business loan covered payroll for a few months, but the siblings still emptied their bank accounts to keep the hotels open for a paltry 10% occupancy.
“We were hemorrhaging money,” said Green, who is 60.
A spokesperson for JBG Smith confirmed the purchase of the 38-key Rosslyn hotel and the two apartment buildings, but declined to comment further. The company has been on something of a buying spree in Arlington; an affiliated nonprofit just bought the Crystal House apartment complex with funding from Amazon, as part of a $2 billion commitment by the tech giant to support affordable housing in Arlington, Nashville and the Seattle area.
The Inn of Rosslyn is assessed at $5,070,900, and the two apartment buildings are together worth $8.7 million, according to county records.
Prior to these sales, JBG Smith’s Arlington properties were cumulatively valued this summer at nearly $4.5 billion, according to Arlington County.
“This is an end of an era,” Green said of her family’s business. “It’s hard for the employees. Some have worked for us for 20-odd years. Many were housed in family property and we don’t know if they’ll find jobs.”
The coronavirus was not Green’s only worry. Some of her siblings are too old to be involved, or have died recently, leaving only Green and her sister, Carole Newman, poised to keep the doors open.
The Green’s story is playing out statewide. COVID-19 has crippled the hotel industry statewide, with hotel revenues down 51% from 2019, and the percentage of rooms booked down 33 percentage points, Virginia Business reports.
Still, Green considers herself lucky.
“My father built his businesses in an area that is so valuable that we could sell,” she said.
William Green Sr. quit his electrical engineering job with General Electric to build the hotels.
“He didn’t want to work for a big corporation — he wanted to give his family financial independence, and give them freedom,” she said.
And her father, a child of the Great Depression, chose the D.C. area, she said.
“He knew that if the economy crashed again, D.C. would be more insulated than anywhere else,” she said. “Arlington is really the center of the universe in some ways.”
Today, Green lives on more than one hundred acres in eastern Oregon, and even mulled investing in hotels two years ago — but is glad she did not.
“What is going down is a travesty unlike anything in my lifetime,” she said.
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