Douglas Development has told the local ANC that it has scrapped plans for a multi-family development in favor of a single-story restaurant. Originally purchased at auction for $5 million in 2009, Douglas Jemal voiced his intention of reestablishing the former Babe's Billiards site as a viable retail corner in the center of Tenleytown. Jemal's aggressive bidding on the property had some speculating that the fix was in for a big name retailer. But nothing materialized, and more recently it was understood Jemal's ambition for the site had grown. Just last month the Washington Business Journal ran a headline reading "Tenleytown warms to higher density developments," citing Jemal's aims to construct two floors of residential atop three floors of commercial/retail. But attendees of ANC 3e's most recent meeting witnessed the presentation of Jemal's "radically reduced" plans, reports the local ANC's Secretary Jonathan Bender.
Shalom Baranes will trash their sketches of a multi-story addition but continue to work with Jemal on the design aspects of the now much smaller development plans. While the dream of increased density at the site is dead, the shrinkage is reportedly financially-driven, not a result of the perceived difficulty of earning community support, as many may assume. Tenleytown has earned a formidable reputation for harboring a relatively small but vituperative group of NIMBYs, routinely cited for extinguishing developer's hopes of high-density development in the area. The group's most recent victims include the currently stalled seven-story Akridge development at 5220 Wisconsin Avenue (deceased) and the Tenleytown Safeway development, which remains indefinitely motionless in planning approval-limbo. Surely, American University students, faculty, and staff are trembling at the thought of receiving the reaction from the Tenleytown ANC when they explain their 2011 Camps Plan and their wish to relocate their Washington College of Law to Tenley Circle.
But according to Bender, Jemal's plans for a six story mixed-use development had not drawn the ire of Tenleytown residents. In fact, the project had the ANC's support, he says. But the necessary PUD approval process, sometimes costing developers upwards of a million dollars, was not financially feasible, compelling Jemal to pursue a more modest project. While the rumors that Tenleytown now has a more nuanced and friendlier attitude towards development may be true, the economy remains decidedly less charitable.
Washington D.C. Real Estate Development News