Newseum Projects Still On Track

Posted August 10, 2007 at 3:57pm

Delays at the Newseum haven’t stopped progress at the museum’s upscale restaurant and 12-story residential complex.

The Source by Wolfgang Puck, a three-level fine-dining restaurant headlined by the celebrity chef, is slated to open in the fall, perhaps as early as October, according to museum officials. At the Newseum Residences, the apartment building situated behind the museum, new tenants already are moving in.

Construction delays forced the public opening of the $450 million Newseum to be pushed back from Oct. 15 to the first quarter of 2008, a Newseum spokesman confirmed last week.

Officials said that actual construction on the 643,000-square-foot complex near the Capitol on Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest should be finished by September. After that, Newseum workers will need time to prepare the exhibits, stock the gift shop and get ready for thousands of visitors.

But by the fall, Washington, D.C., locals should already be able to enjoy some of the tasty highlights of the new facility.

The Source restaurant will be the first headlined by Puck in D.C. and will be a mix of upscale and casual dining catering to locals and visitors alike.

On the ground floor, guests will be able to dine in a bar-and-grill setting, which will feature a menu designed for a work lunch or quick bite after work. In the upstairs dining room, the menus will evoke recipes from Puck’s other upscale restaurants and new creations using East Coast ingredients.

Of the 135 spots available at the Newseum Residences, 18 have been reserved, according to Lisa Battaglieri, the property manager for the facility, which is being overseen by Bozzuto Management.

“Everything is moving along really fast,” Battaglieri said. “We’re getting a lot of interest from a lot of people who work on Capitol Hill, we have a lot of lawyers, venture capitalists, people like that.”

Workers are now putting some of the finishing touches on the residential building, such as wrapping up drywall work in some units on the top floors of the complex, Battaglieri said.

Nine units already are occupied by tenants, she said, and four more are expected to move in this week. Because the apartment complex is detached from the museum itself, construction noise is minimal, Battaglieri said. But other than that, things are ready to go.

Spots available include a range of studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units, Battaglieri said. Studios start in the $1,700s, with one-bedrooms going for about $2,500 and two-bedrooms averaging about $3,800, she added.

Many of those interested in the building are people who frequently come to D.C. for business during the week but head home on the weekends, Battaglieri said.

“We have such an amazing location. We’re central in the middle of Penn Quarter, right on Pennsylvania Avenue,” she said. “Being associated with the Newseum is huge.”

The views also are a highlight, she said.

“You can see the [National] Gallery of Art, you can see the Washington Monument in some units, and you can see the Capitol.”

The Newseum, under construction since its groundbreaking in December 2003, had been working toward a fall 2007 opening until the delay was confirmed last week. Attendees of the 2007 Associated Press Managing Editors Conference were even set to visit the Newseum as a highlight of their three-day trip to the nation’s capital.

(In a memo released last week, the APME said the delay is not expected to affect conference plans, since the construction should be completed by October.)

When it eventually opens, the Newseum will feature 14 main exhibition galleries, 15 theaters, two broadcast studios and an interactive newsroom. It has been billed as one of the most technologically advanced museums in the world.

An array of topics will be featured at the museum, from the First Amendment (which is engraved in marble outside the complex) to a journalists memorial to a gallery dedicated to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.