Buy High, Sell Higher

Continental Profiles, by Jeff Shear

Developer Mohamed Hadid’s quest for the best.

There’s no question that Mohamed Hadid belongs here, in the posh precincts of the Jockey Club in the capital’s Ritz-Carlton hotel where power eaters do lunch: He owns the place—-the club, the hotel, and about $400 million of the surrounding Washington real estate.

He would like to think that he is Washington’s version of Donald Trump: the city’s preeminent developer and high roller. And he well may be. Certainly he lives the part, with a plush estate equipped with a landing strip for his twin-engine plane on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, as well as another mansion in Virginia, an easy drive in his white Rolls-Royce to the Jockey Club.

Hadid’s business is developing real estate, buying up parcels of land and putting up properties, usually office space. Developers are the ultimate Monopoly players, mortgaging Park Place against Boardwalk. It’s a dicey game whose requisite skill is raising money.
May 1990 – Continental Profiles, by Jeff Shear

Recently Hadid has turned his attention to the resort business, buying and building hotels managed by the Ritz-Carlton corporation. In fact, it was a Ritz project that brought Hadid head-to-head with Donald Trump. He and Trump were both after the same property, the choicest piece of resort land, in the choicest little ski resort in the West: the diamonds-and-ice burg of Aspen, Colorado.

Trump had invested in a parcel of land at the very foot of famed Aspen Mountain. But the 41-year-old Hadid discovered some hidden liens on the prized property. As it turned out, the liens held the key to ownership. Pay off the liens, get the land; it was as simple as that. All Hadid needed was $42.9 million. He managed to raise that before Trump realized that there was a problem.

“I like Donald,” Hadid says of Trump, his voice soft, accented, making him sound a bit like Peter Lorre. “Personally, we are good friends, despite our legal problems.” Trump is suing Hadid, charging that the Washington developer pulled the slope out from under him in the Aspen deal. It is a legal squabble that could go on for some time, long after Hadid has finished building his Ritz-Carlton Hotel on the Aspen site.

One of the issues in the recent, highly publicized vote to ban furs from Aspen’s streets was a referendum on Hadid’s Ritz. Since the hotel was to be built in the very heart of Aspen, the locals wanted it to be in keeping with the old mining-town spirit of the resort. In February, tourist town voted resoundingly favor of both: putting up the Ritz and doing it in their fur coats.