For the last four years or so, the one-story building at 6428 Georgia Avenue NW—-a former Blockbuster in a pretty good location, at the intersection with Piney Branch Road next to a Safeway—-has had a blue-and-yellow sign on it heralding the “Park East Condos” that would sell from “the low $200s.”
Well, that plan didn’t work out.
Here’s the back story: According to DCMud, Ellis Denning Construction had a plan for 43 condos there in 2006. But the District wanted the building to house Fire Engine Company 22, and purchased the building under the threat of taking by force through eminent domain. After doing so, they found that neighborhood didn’t want a firehouse, fearing that it would jeopardize that part of Georgia Avenue’s revitalization, and so the District decided to sell it back to Ellis Denning (now just Denning, after the firm split up) for the same price, if they could proceed with construction.
Instead, the developer burned through its two-year feasibility study period without exercising its option to renew, essentially defaulting on the offer. So the property reverted back to the District, and sat there until Councilmember Muriel Bowser asked the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development what the deal was. They weren’t doing anything with it, so the Department of Real Estate Services was tasked with getting it off the books.
The sad part is that by taking the property back in 2006, the city may have delayed its redevelopment by half a decade, given that it got a lot harder to finance projects in 2008. This time around, DRES is trying out a new process called “community input,” and will have a public meeting on September 9th to ask people what they’d like to see done with the property. It could stay in the District’s portfolio, or be sold again, in hopes of finally creating something more exciting than a squat storefront.