If any one thing comes to embody the zeitgeist of real estate skepticism, it may be the comeuppance of would-be developments, outlived even by their own ephemeral marketing life. First among that class may be the sad story of Babe's Billiards, purchased and shuttered by Clemens Construction to make way for the Maxim at Tenley, a condominium development at 4600 Wisconsin Avenue, NW that will go to auction as a recent victim of foreclosure.
Popular watering hole Babe's was prematurely closed by the new owner - an easy sacrifice for the nearly 70 condo units intended for the site. Clemens began their pursuit of the elusive project in 2006 and had their intentions reaffirmed when the DC Zoning Commission ruled in their favor the following year.
But the approval was only the beginning of a long and arduous - but eventually mortal - debate with the community. In a coup de grace similar to what may befall neighboring Tenley-Friendship Library/Janney Elementary project – the project was downsized past the point of viability, ultimately ending at approval for a 36,000 s.f. building with a maximum of 42 units and a puny retail component fronting retail starved Wisconsin Avenue.
The combination of the real estate market and reduced scale proved fatal, leaving the blackened building skinned in "coming soon" signs for a prominent epitaph.
Now the entire 12,661 square foot lot, including the store fronts at 4600-4608 and 4614 Wisconsin, has been bundled for the auction, along with its Cunningham & Quill Architects’ designs. In addition to the blueprints, the high bidder will also inherit the development’s previously approved status – meaning that a well financed developer could resurrect the project (or bring back Babes, we hope).
At this time, Clemens still owns the property; the auction is being sponsored by a third party and will take place at the DC offices of attorneys Ober/Kaler (1401 H Street, NW) at 11 AM on February 5th. The winner will be required to provide a deposit in the form of a cashier’s or certified check for $100,000 at the time of sale.