Last week's auction winner of the Tenley condo site will build a new retail venue, according to the new owner. Douglas Jemal of Douglas Development Corporation tells DCMud that he will pursue retail usage at the Tenleytown storefront once home to Babe’s Billiards, but more recently as an aborted residential project called the Maxim Condominiums. Jemal picked up the 12,661 square foot parcel at 4600 Wisconsin Avenue, NW for a reported $5 million at auction last week, after the Maxim’s original developers, Clemens Construction, bowed out.
There is no word on when Tenleytown will see the property open for business, but Jemal contends that his company will repurpose the shuttered pool hall at the site, instead of aiming for new construction. With underwriting for residential projects increasingly wanting, residential development was never likely, at least in the short term. More distantly, project approvals for the Maxim, as well as project plans by Cunningham & Quill Architects,’ transfer under the terms of the sale, leaving a clear path toward residential development for one of DC's few developer that seems capable and inclined to buy and hold.But at least one executive of a prominent developer that examined the site thinks the only real strategy is a long term retail plan. "The problem with the site is that anyone picking it up needs to carry it for a long time. Doug Jemal, more than anyone else in the city, has a greater ability to bring in high profile retailers...You can't pay that amount ($5m) and get a short term lease; I think in a way it could be good for the site. The FAR price was high by any standard, [Jemal] was bidding like a guy who had an idea for how to utilize the site; its certain to remain retail for at least a decade." And with the tax rate on vacant property jumping from 5% to 10%, Douglas has an obvious disincentive to idling the property.
Other current Douglas projects in some phase of development include the former Wonder Bread factory at 641 S Street, NW, a mixed-use development at 9th and N Streets, NW, the redevelopment of a Pennsylvania Avenue, NE site that neighbors the proposed Hill East project, and the Addison Row at Cheverly Metro just over the District line in Prince George’s County.