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Another apartment project on the boards! Maybe.
For the last ten years, Douglas Development has owned a cluster of empty warehouses behind Mt. Calvary Baptist Church off Rhode Island Avenue NE. Today, they came to ask Advisory Neighborhood Commission 5B’s approval to change the zoning from industrial to commercial on part of the site, which would allow for the construction of a 240-unit residential building. Douglas’ attorney Kyrus Freeman even brought a quickie schematic of how the layout might work, by Antunovich Architects, showing a big building that would at least be obscured from the busy thoroughfare.
Good news for the neighborhood, which has been trying to turn its warehouse districts into places where people can live. But is Douglas serious about the project? Freeman says they don’t have a joint venture partner at the moment, which could mean that they’re bankrolling it on their own—-or that they still need to land financing.
As has become a pattern for owner Doug Jemal, he may also be motivated by an impending tax hike. The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs’ vacant property unit hadn’t noticed the properties until recently, tucked away as they are on a side street, and so Jemal just paid the normal commercial rate. Upon further inspection, though, DCRA noticed that the five separate lots actually qualify as blighted, and last week notified the company it could be in for a near million-dollar tax bill.
Douglas may well have had development plans months ago, but the blight tax finally kicking in sure does accelerate the process.