A visionary developer and philanthropist, Giuseppe Cecchi’s impact on the National Capital area and beyond has been extraordinary. More than 26,000 people live in IDI homes in communities that have earned more than 85 prestigious industry awards for design, construction and special programs, as well as for community governance and operation.

A Pioneering History

Mr. Cecchi’s career was marked by many “firsts” as he broke new ground and set new trends: the first mixed use development in the National Capital area; the first resort-style condominium community in Northern Virginia; the first instance of converting a rental community to a condominium community without anyone being evicted from the nearly 1,700 homes; the first planned unit developments in the DC area.

Born in Milan, Italy, to Antonio Cecchi, the head engineer of the city of Milan at that time, Cecchi followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, graduating from the University of Milan in 1955 with a master’s degree in professional engineering. In 1959, he came to the United States to scout real estate investments for the firm Societa’ Generale Immobiliare (SGI). Thus, he first made his mark on the Nation’s Capital prior to forming IDI, introducing the area to its first mixed-use project, The Watergate, and its first resort style condominium, Watergate at Landmark.  In 1975, he started IDI and his team built upon that model of large, residential communities with extensive recreational facilities by developing a series of successful condominiums such as The Rotonda, Porto Vecchio, Montebello and The Belvedere.

In 1977, he pioneered a widely hailed program of tenant-sensitive condominium conversions when the company acquired and redeveloped the 1,684-unit Parkfairfax complex. With no evictions, IDI was able to upgrade apartments and convert them into condominiums at sale prices that were affordable to existing tenants, providing a private solution to the need for affordable housing. Following the model that saw so much success at Parkfairfax, IDI replicated its innovative “no-eviction-conversion” on an additional 1,300 units at Parc East and Belle View. Mr. Cecchi was also part of the creation of new neighborhoods in large planned communities through his role in developing Burke Centre and Franklin Farm. With IDI’s successful condominium communities considered national models for their luxury and abundant amenities, The Washington Post once dubbed Mr. Cecchi “Condo King!.”

In 1980, Mr. Cecchi teamed up with California-based developer Ross Cortese for the completion of the residential and recreational facilities at Leisure World in Silver Spring and then Leisure World of Virginia, now Lansdowne Woods of Virginia. In addition to those large scale residential developments, he was a key part of the economic transformation of both Arlington County and Washington DC with projects such as his Vista International Hotel off of Thomas Circle (1981) and Techworld Plaza in Chinatown (1986), as well as the Rosslyn Center and Ballston Metro Center in Arlington (1977 and 1987, respectively). Giuseppe Cecchi’s impact on the greater Washington area has been and will continue to be significant for generations to come.

An Outstanding Corporate Citizen – and Example

Under Mr. Cecchi’s leadership, IDI is a principled, family-owned company which has, because of the way it conducts business, improved the lives of thousands of area residents who have lived in its communities, worked in its buildings, stayed in its hotels, or worked on its behalf. Mr. Cecchi made certain that IDI is at its heart a caring, family company, where family extends beyond the actual family members who have now taken leadership roles, to include taking care of the people who work for and with the company and the people who buy their products. Loyalty plays a powerful role in the quality of IDI products and its relationships; many of the company’s employees and team members have worked with the company for decades.

Mr. Cecchi provided considerable financial support and at times, board service, to a wide range of industry and philanthropic organizations throughout the Washington metropolitan area.  These included the Greater Washington Board of Trade, the Federal City Council, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, Catholic Charities, Children’s Hospital, all the local building industry associations, and dozens of others.

Most of All, A Family Man

A resident of McLean, VA for 45 years, Cecchi’s pride and joy was his family, including his 55 year marriage to his wife Mercedes and his four sons: Antonio, Enrico, Carlos & Giuseppe (John) and their families, which include 12 grandchildren.

Here is just some of the Washington Post’s coverage of Mr. Cecchi over the last five decades.
ParkFairfax Conversion is Detailed. Washington Post, February 16, 1977.
1,000-Unit Condo Complex Planned South of Alexandria. November 13, 1979.
‘Condo King’ Rules $300 Million Empire. Washington Post, April 18, 1981.
The Senior Suburb: Leisure World’s Busy Life. Washington Post, November 23, 1982.
Plans Unveiled for Complex at Ballston Metro. Washington Post, October 15, 1985.
Good Will, Italian Style. Washington Post, May 18, 1986.
Prominent Developers Form New Partnership. Washington Post, December 4, 1986.
Meticulous, Park-Like Burke Centre. May 28, 1988.
A World of Leisure is Coming Soon. Washington Post, July 17, 1997.
Giuseppe Cecchi, Wasington developer behind the Watergate, dies at 93. Washington Post, April 9, 2024.