Monday, April 02, 2012

Babes Billiards Redevelopment Plan Heading to Zoning Commission

Within two weeks, Douglas Development intends to submit to the Zoning Commission its plans for a 60,821-square-foot, mixed-use retail and residential development on the old Babes Billiards location at 4600 Wisconsin Ave., NW. Douglas will request a zoning change, from C-2-A to C-3-A, for the planned unit development (PUD) to allow increases in height and residential space. The new building will be just under 71 feet tall and have a residential lot occupancy of 76 percent. With the lot's current zoning, residential lot occupancy caps at 60 percent and height at 50 feet.
View from Wisconsin Street. (All rendering provided by Douglas Development.)
The new category allows parking, but no parking is included in the design, and Douglas will ask for relief from the parking requirement. Residents raised concerns about parking early on, but given the design options and a Douglas parking study finding adequate parking in place, the final plan includes additional retail spaces in lieu of parking spaces. Paul Millstein, vice president and head of construction for Douglas, said he hopes to have the project on the agenda for a zoning hearing in July or September. If all goes well, he expects work will begin about eight months after the hearing. Architecture firm Shalom Baranes Associates designed the building that Millstein said will have about 60 residential units of various sizes. The final PUD outlines more than 47,000 square feet of residential space on five floors above nearly 12,000 square feet of ground-level retail space and lobby. Millstein said there was an additional 10,000 square feet of subterranean retail space, but the PUD lists only 2,200 square feet.
View from Brandywine Street.
The building will include a variety of materials and features such as a terracotta, aluminum, glass and brick on the facade, with a green roof to cap it off. Millstein said the company plans to keep the new development as a long-term holding. No retail outlets have formally committed to moving into the new space, but Millstein said interest is "strong" among many retailers including owners of Matchbox Grill. He said he wants a mix of retail including restaurants, coffee shops and sporting goods stores. "I think once we start construction we'll see leases signed quickly," he said. "I think we'll have tenants waiting for construction instead of us waiting for tenants."
Alternate view from Brandywine Street.
Before new construction begins, crews must raze two smaller structures on the property. The frame of the main structure on the corner will remain with new construction built around it. Millstein said he anticipates a minimum of LEED Silver certification for the property. Douglas Development acquired the property three years ago at auction for a reported $5 million. After considering several different options, the company settled on the current plan.
View from the intersection of Brandywine and Wisconsin streets.
"I think it's going well," Millstein said of the process that has included a sometimes contentious ANC review with community input. "It's taking time ... but I think it was important to bring everyone together and have an open dialogue that we've had." Washington D.C. real estate development news


Anonymous said...

Where have I seen that design before...oh yeah, everywhere!

Anonymous said...

Jemal trots it out whenever he's threatened with the vacant property tax rate. The list came out last week and Babe's was on it.

Anonymous said...

This has to get built! The building is a blight in the neighborhood!

Anonymous said...

I am very excited to see that this project may get underway. It is time for the old Tenleytown guard to step aside. Enough of the complaints about "traffic and parking, traffic and parking, traffic and parking." Here's news...YOU LIVE IN A CITY! This project is appropriately scaled and programmed and, having actually worked with Mr. Millstein before, I'm confident Jemal's team has done their due diligence and outreach.

The agree with the comment that this design can be found everywhere in DC. However, I don't think that speaks to who the developer is but rather who the architect is. Same ol same ol Shalom Baranes. Nonetheless, it is development and density where both are badly needed. Personally, I don't see any reason why Tenleytown shouldn't be as dense as Friendship Heights. A collection of 2-story buildings sitting around a Metro station is a travesty! I'm confident that many of those complaining about "traffic and parking, traffic and parking, traffic and parking" have enough room in their backyard off the alley for 9 x 19 foot parking pad. Instead, we'll basically squash everything with the attitude of "how dare you park in a public parking spot in front of my house!"

Mr Jemal...please let me know when I can testify in support of your project at the Zoning Commission. And then lets meet to discuss rebuilding the Whole Foods block so that Whole Foods fronts, and has more of a presence, on the back side with an improved center median as a beautiful new linear park down the middle of that street and an infill building to replace the gap in Wisconsin Avenue. Oh...and we'll put some office and residential on top of it all but let's just keep that our secret for now.

No NIMBY said...

@Anonymous 7:30 AM

I'm looking forward to new restaurants, new retail and more DC residents being able to live a very close walk to the metro station.

If this is just a ploy by Douglas Development as you suggest, however, I hope we don't hear the Great NIMBY Panic about how there will be three more cars per hour on Wisconsin Avenue, how this is a huge six story building that might create a shadow, or that the Babe's building is some great historic treasure comparable to the Egyptian pyramids.

Anonymous said...

The $64,000 question is whether the PUD application will hasten or delay progress at the site.
If it leads to another exemption from the vacant property tax rate, it (once again) removes the most powerful financial incentive for prompt redevelopment. I think that the rules have been tightened up enough that DCRA could (and should) deny any request for an exemption. The PUD could still go forward, while keeping the economic pressure on Jemal to either put the site back into active use or sell it to someone who will.

No NIMBY said...

@Anonymous 10:19 AM:

"A collection of 2-story buildings sitting around a Metro station is a travesty!"

2-story buildings around the metro station would be an improvement. Instead, there are detached Ashburn-style homes with driveways on Ablemarle right next to the metro station.

This building, with the Cathedral Commons further down Wisconsin Avenue will some some much-needed vibrancy to Wisconsin Avenue, help create jobs, and expand DC's tax-base.

Anonymous said...

Let's see, there are 4 blocks surrounding the Wisconsin & Albemarle intersection (which is the location of the Tenleytown/AU Metro station). The SW block houses the city's most used neighborhood library, two elementary schools with a combined enrollment of around 800 kids, and a large Catholic Church. The SE corner has a neighborhood-serving commercial strip that includes a couple of good restaurants (Neisha and Masala Art) and a popular martial arts studio among other things (fast food, offices, Xtreme Fitness). The NE corner has the Whole Foods/Guapo's/Starbuck/Panera/Robeks shopping area, which is very busy and the block behind that is Wilson HS (which has over 1000 students, probably more like 1500) and the Aquatic Center. The NW corner has a mixed-use building with Best Buy, Container Store, Tenley Hardware and a couple hundred condos on top.

It's a transit-oriented neighborhood with a good mix of institutional, retail, residential, and office uses. No lack of vibrancy (or jobs, for that matter).

Anonymous said...

It's an ugly, hackneyed design for a prominent corner. Would be better if the architect picked up on some of the art deco elements of the Friendship Animal Hospital next door.

Anonymous said...

The architect won't pick up on any art deco elements or anything else remotely attractive becasue they only do glass boxes.

They keep it real! (real ugly)

Anonymous said...

Hmm, mixed-use with a ground floor burger joint. That worked out so well in Dupont Circle:

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