In 1960, european real estate giant Societa Generale Immobiliare paid $10 million for the 10-acre riverfront tract that was to become the infamous Watergate complex. When the site's namesake hotel closes its doors and re-emerges as 96 luxury condo residences in 2007, its penthouses are expected to fetch up to $9 million apiece, making it the highest-priced residential real estate in Washington.

“We saw this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The rest of the land along the waterfront is either already developed or is protected by the National Park Service,” says Michael Darby, founder of Monument Realty, a developer known for other upscale infill projects inside the beltway.

CELEBRITY MAKEOVER: Contemporary interiors will complement the Watergate's original mid-mod façade by Italian architect Luigi Moretti.
CELEBRITY MAKEOVER: Contemporary interiors will complement the Watergate's original mid-mod façade by Italian architect Luigi Moretti.

Ranging from 800 to 5,400 square feet (the smallest units will start at $750,000) in size, each residence will offer sweeping views of the Potomac River. The interiors will eschew D.C.'s default colonial aesthetic in favor of a more contemporary vibe, complete with Brazilian maple floors and high-end products.

Monument Realty is sweetening the deal with an on-site spa, a world-class restaurant, 24-hour concierge service, and valet parking. Another big selling point is what Darby refers to as the “friendly ghost” legacy. Nixon conspirators notwithstanding, celebs who have patronized the hotel include Audrey Hepburn, Andy Warhol, and Nelson Mandela, not to mention a slew of politicos. And nothing delights Washingtonians more than talking about who's slept where.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Washington, DC.