Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Plan in Queue for Babe's in Tenleytown

Plans for the former Babe's Billiards site at 4600-4614 Wisconsin Avenue NW in Tenleytown have been knocked around, and ultimately scratched, since early 2004, three years before the well-known neighborhood hangout was forced to give its final last-call-for-alcohol. The site, dormant now for four years, is owned by Douglas Development, and the developer plans to rekindle an earlier vision for the parcel: a six-story, mixed-use development with a significant retail component.

Douglas Development, flying as Jemal's Babes LLC, purchased the site at auction in February of 2009 for $5m - in what many insiders considered an overly aggressive bid - after previous owner and developer, Clemens Construction, went into foreclosure and was forced to fold on its plan to turn the site into the 70-unit Maxim Condominiums, first conceptualized in 2006.
In 2009, Douglas asserted it would re-establish the site as simple retail, but then filed a request with the Zoning Commission in September of 2010 to rezone the property and develop the site into a significantly more dense mixed-use project incorporating anywhere from one-to-three floors of retail topped with residential.

This plan, however, was scaled back in December of 2010 - back to a one-story, one-tenant redevelopment of the existing structure, likely to be occupied by a restaurateur.

Following through with this downsized plan would have allowed Douglas to forgo the PUD and rezoning process and develop by right, in line with the property's current C-2-A zoning (low density, maximum height of 50').

Yet, eight months later, with the corner building still empty, Douglas is opting to go big again and has returned to the six-story, mixed-use plan for five stories of residential above 12,600 s.f. of ground-floor retail, confirms Paul Millstein, head of construction-related activity at Douglas (the rendering above is just a concept). Plans are currently in Shalom Baranes' design queue, although there are no active renderings yet, per the architect. The PUD-plans will be submitted to ANC 3 "by September" said Millstein. "If not September, October for sure."

Meanwhile, anyone looking for pool can head to Babe's new home in Silver Spring, where the watering hole relocated in November of last year. Anyone looking for vestiges of the neighborhood's seamier days of the '60s and '70s will have a harder time finding it.

Washington D.C. real estate development news


IMGoph on Jul 13, 2011, 10:24:00 AM said...

...and anyone looking for the NIMBY shitstorm won't have to wait long...

Anonymous said...

This is great news. It will be satisfying to once again have this dead corner in Tenleytown reactivated. Plus, we have the added benefit of months of the handful of NIMBYs fighting it out on the neighborhood listserves and before the Zoning Commission.

Ben said...

This is great news. It's boom times on the Wisconsin Avenue corridor with this proposal, the development of the site next to the Western Union tower across Wisconsin Avenue, the Tenley library (even if it didn't include the residential part as a public-private partnership), the relocation of the American U. law school to the Tenley Circle campus, and construction soon to begin on the Giant/Cathedral Commons development.

Anonymous said...

Build something nice on top. One of the earlier versions was a wood-framed piece of junk on top of the existing shell, like that crap they just built on Harrison and Wisconsin. I'm all for it if you build something good, if its a wooden suburban plop on top of Babe's I'll be vocal in opposing it.

Anonymous said...

more likely more smoke and mirrors to get out from under the vacant property tax rate. Don't hold your breath waiting for Douglas to actually follow through

Anonymous said...


Financing and construction of the Cathedral Commons/Giant development near McLean Gardens is on hold pending the outcome of an the appeal before the DC Court of Appeals. Although many initially discounted the appeal, apparently the DC Attorney General (which represented the Zoning Commission) in its brief basically conceded the case to the various appellants. Thus, the odds that the court will throw out the PUD and send the whole thing to the BZA (because, the appellants say, the zoning overlay at the site requires a special exception) are increasing.

Anonymous said...

How is this news? Baranes might draw pictures for Jemal sometime early in the Fall? Wow -- stop the presses!

The property's on the tax sale list with $67,000+ in arrears. Maybe Douglas should pay the city before he shells out $$ to an architect.

Anonymous said...

$67,000 in unpaid taxes for Douglas. If that is true that would make him a dishonest person. Shame on him and others like him who try to stick it to DC. If you have an opinion on this you can call Douglas at 202.638.6300

AU, GW and Georgetown U. are also some others who don't pay any taxes and use the city. They do it in the name of being non profit, but act as for profit businesses.

Time to get tough with these people.

Anonymous said...

Non-profits pay taxes on the buildings they rent commercially. The Universities, unlike Jemal, are living up to their legally-defined obligations.

Anonymous said...

@Jul 14 12:20 PM

Not only do you not understand the appeal process but the opposition to Giant statement has conveniently left out sentences like “The Commission properly refused to refer the PUD application to the BZA for special exception review under the Overlay regulations.” from the DC Attorney General (OAG which represented the Zoning Commission) Brief.

Manipulation such as this on a message board is intellectually dishonest.


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