The WY18 condos, which are 85 percent sold out at this point, have undergone quite the transformation since Urban Investment Partners bought the former apartment buildings back in 2010. And it looks like the ground floor retail, with the exception of Adams Morgan Coffeeshop, is likely to change as well.
Today, Douglas Development bought the commercial units, ready to capitalize on a brand-new streetscape to bring in some brand-new tenants. And they haven’t wasted any time getting the spaces on the market: Streetsense has flyers out, advertising three out of four retail slots.
That was news to one remaining tenant: Araya Gebremariam, owner of Adams Morgan Hardware, which he says has been there for around 20 years (he bought the business in 2004). He’s been paying $2,798 per month for the 1,286 square foot space, but his lease expired last November, and he says he was notified that the new rent would be just shy of $5,000. “I have to find somewhere else,” he says. “It’s not fair. I don’t know what to do now.”
Norman Jemal, the guy who makes most decisions at Douglas Development, says they’re actually asking around $4,500—-or $42 per square foot, which is on the high end for what the market is running these days. Douglas owns a number of the other retail spaces in the neighborhood, like Stroga, FedEx, the still-empty ground floor retail in the Harris Teeter building, and the Wok and Roll on Belmont Street.
“I happen to think Adams Morgan is going to have a great renaissance,” says Jemal, who used to live on California Street. Even if it’s one without a hardware store.