As has been noted before, the site at 4600 Wisconsin, its zoning exception, and even the architectural documents were auctioned this week to the Douglas Development outfit. Sold for $5 million, the price was $2.3 million less than Clemens paid for it in 2005. Douglas have a good reputation for redevelopment, executing projects at the Woodward & Lothrop Building, the Car Barn, the Avalon Theater, The Peoples Building, and the building that houses the International Spy Museum.
A few interesting facts emerge from the article in the Current article. First, the requirement to build underground parking apparently was a major contributor to the construction costs that made development unfeasible once the real estate market contracted. Second, the difference in size between the buildings Douglas Development currently own and their plans for the site might indicate that they intend to use the building as a placeholder until a better market for development emerges. Third, much conflict was made over the prior project, at the modest height of five stories. Five stories is within the commissar’s approved height and would have been quite appropriate for an area near a Metro station. Hopefully if my wild speculation in point two comes true, there will be less opposition to future plans that can only benefit the neighborhood. Strong advocacy for transit-oriented development and explanation of why it is important not only for the environment, but also for community is absolutely necessary to make appropriate development possible.