Downtown property mogul Douglas Development Corporation isn’t just slow on paying their taxes to the District. They’re also in hock to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, which is suing the company for a rent abatement that they said they’d pay last year.
According to a complaint filed on May 25 in District Superior Court, after a dispute over the lease at the historic Woodward & Lothrop building at 10th and F streets NW related to Madame Tussauds’ tax increment financing from the District and the absence of a functional elevator in the building, Douglas agreed to pay $105,000 as a settlement back in September.
The email exchanges used as exhibits in the complaint almost—-almost—-make you feel sorry for the poor land baron. Under the subject line “Money”:
“As I have had no response we will be starting debt recovery proceedings,” wrote Nick Mackenzie of Merlin Entertainments to Douglas principal Norman Jemal on April 12. “As you seem to not have money to pay we will also be contacting your lender to discuss this debt and the lease content. It’s a shame that it has come to this but we clearly can’t trust you to honour your agreements.”
“Nick, I am sorry that this has become such a bad situation, I can assure you my intentions are good, the road has been very challenging and bumpy,” responded Norman, who is the son of company patriarch Doug Jemal.
“I know and understand but will we get the money we are owed.” Mackenzie shot back. “If not we will pursue it through the channels I have stated below.”
“Yes you will get it and very soon,” responded Jemal, who apparently didn’t follow up.
This isn’t the only bill Douglas has had trouble paying on the building. In February and March of this year, two contractors who’d done interior renovation work on the Forever 21 space filed liens on the property for unpaid bills totaling about $80,000. Neither the contractors nor the Jemals responded to inquiries, but according to property records, the liens are still outstanding.
By this time, of course, contractors should probably know what they’re getting into.