Demolition to Begin at Former Marrakesh Site

According to last week’s permits demolition is set to begin at the former Marrakesh site at 617 New York Ave NW. The restaurant closed in September 2012 and the property was sold to Douglas Development in March 2013 for $12.75 million. The raze permit indicates Douglas Development will demolish the majority of the structure leaving only the principal historic facade and elements intact.

Marrakesh and the Midas building Douglas purchased in 2009

Marrakesh and the Midas building Douglas purchased in 2009

I would presume these buildings are part of the assemblage for the massive spec office building we reported Douglas had in the works back in 2012. But they own nearly the entirety of the block and at one point were planning both an office building and a residential building.

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Final WOD at District Crossfit NW

District Crossfit NW at 635 New York Ave NW will close its doors after its final WOD (workout of the day) tonight. Their landlord, Douglas Development, is intent on moving forward with redeveloping the block.

Please join us on the evening of Tuesday, November 26 for the final WOD at District CrossFit NW. As you all know DCFNW will unfortunately be closing in November, but we can’t send the ole’ girl out without a bang. Join us for a workout (and of course some refreshments) to celebrate the best damn gym this city has ever seen. ’The Final WOD’ will actually be any of the regularly scheduled Tuesday evening classes (5:30, 6:30 & 7:30), so pick the class of your liking and stick around to have a drink and trade a few stories.

District Crossfit opened in 2010 at 624 New York Ave NW. One year later they were displaced by the AAMC headquarters development and choose to relocate across the street to a much bigger space at 635 New York Ave. The membership of the gym rapidly grew and they responded by adding a second 10,000SF location at 1525 Half Street SW.

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January MVSNA Meeting

This month’s MVSNA membership meeting will be held on Tuesday January 18th at 7:30pm in the community room of the Yale Loft condominiums (437 New York Ave NW). A discussion with Douglas Development regarding two proposed developments on Square 450 & 451 will be a major topic of interest.

The latest edition of the MVSNA newsletter is available for download from

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Douglas Moving Forward on Squares 450/451 **UPDATED*

Over the years Douglas Development has assembled a majority of properties on Squares 450 and 451 (see map below for Square boundaries). In both 2008 and 2009 we learned from Paul Millstein of tentative mixed use plans Douglas had for the sites including a rumor of a major entertainment anchor and relocating The Waffle Shop. But development groundbreakings across the city were at a standstill and nothing came to pass. The economic cold front seems to be thawing across the city in 2011. We seem to be closer than ever to action on these parcels including recent news of a partnership with Kettler for an apartment project at 6th & L.

Boundaries of Squares 450 & 451; click to enlarge

Lydia DePillis of the City Paper got the very latest scoop from Douglas last night at an ANC 2C meeting.

Douglas plans to sign a lease this month with a large association headquarters that will take the entirety of a 300,000 square foot office building, with ground floor retail. The mystery entity looked at 24 sites in the region, Millstein said, and chose square 451 for a flagship location. He expects a groundbreaking next year.

UPDATE [1/6/11 5:25PM] – Tierney Plumb of the Washington Business Journal reveals that the future tenant, who aims to occupy the property by the Q4 2013, is the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC).

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Douglas Development update concept for Squares 450 and 451

According to Jeff Parke’s notes for last night’s MVSNA meeting Paul Millstein of Douglas Development provided an update on the concept he presented last November for Squares 450 and 451.

RED=Square 450; BLUE=Square 451; ORANGE=Convention Center Hotel; GREEN=Old Convention Center
  • Aim to lease properties on 1000 block of 7th Street in Square 450 for retail and restaurants very soon. No need to wait.
  • Square 451 will be mostly office with 20k sqft retail.
  • Assemblage of historic structures at 6th and K.
  • Shalom Barranes is the architect.
  • Square 450 mass will be broken up to prevent one wall effect on NY ave.
  • Originally were going to put Waffle Shop (formerly 10th st) to 7th but think it would fit in better over by AVs at 6th and NY.
  • The Square 451 office building will be curved along K to let historic structures elevations and facades read better.
  • If successful the Square 451 office building will be occupied by 2013.
  • Do not yet own the doctor’s office on the Square 451 but expect to work something out.
  • Park service owns park on south block but Douglas will make sure it’s improved.
  • Waffle Shop might be 2 years from completion

Does anyone have any additional interesting details to share that were not in these meeting notes? Was there any mention of the entertainment venue Millstein previously alluded to?

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Former home to Ruppert’s Restaurant available for lease

In mid 2008 the Ruppert family, which has owned property on the 1000 block of 7th Street NW since the 1880s, had begun to ramp down their Warehouse Theater and Cafe operations in anticipation of selling their properties to Douglas Jemal. With the real estate slowdown this fizzled and Douglas Development is looking to push ahead on the development concept for Squares 450 and 451 solely with properties they presently own.

With the change in plans the Warehouse Theater (1021 7th Street NW) has reopened for business. However as Paul Ruppert focuses on the launch of his new Room 11 wine bar in Columbia Heights the former Ruppert’s Restaurant space at 1017 7th Street NW has been placed on the market for lease.

From the Craigslist ad (which has rates and contact info):

A total of 3000 SF for lease. First floor (2200 SF) and basement (800 SF) in a historic building across the street from the Convention Center. Home to the acclaimed Ruppert’s restaurant for many years. Dining room currently seats 65. Spacious kitchen allows for any cuisine.

Lease 5 years + 5 year option

Ruppert’s Restaurant opened in 1992, and was sold to chef John Cochran in 1994. Cochran operated the restaurant until 2002, turning it into one of Washington’s best restaurants. Since the restaurant closed the Rupperts have been using the venue as a music and performance space. They hope to attract an independent restaurateur to lease the space.

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Douglas Development presents concept for Squares 450/451

Paul Millstein of Douglas Development shared a concept his company has for Square 450 and 451 at this month’s MVSNA meeting. The Triangle had speculated about these squares in the past and it was good to hear plans straight from the developer.

RED=Square 450; BLUE=Square 451; ORANGE=Convention Center Hotel; GREEN=Old Convention Center

Douglas Development has spent 15-20 years in assemblage on these blocks. They presently feel they own or have under contract all the properties they are likely to be able to acquire. Because of this they are now ready to design their concept around those holdout properties.

Below are my long list of notes. Please remember all this is preliminary:

  • Plan is for high energy mix of retail and office
  • Seeking CLD to build mandated residential elsewhere in city
  • Shalom Baranes will be the architectural firm
  • All but 1 property on the 1000 block of 7th Street NW are owned or under contract
  • Plans are solely to restore these 7th Street NW properties rather than build over them (similar to DD’s past project on the 700 block)
  • On NY Avenue the plan is to move the DC Eagle building next to the Avenue/Lux building
  • Will not acquire Marrakesh or corner of 6th and L
  • Two office buildings with ground floor retail will occupy the remainder of the square 450
  • Square 450 office buildings will be roughly same height as the convention center and have windows on all four sides
  • Square 450 loading docks and other curb cuts will be on L Street
  • Douglas will relocate historic properties south on Square 451 to a cluster on K Street
  • Square 451 will have massive office building with ground floor retail
  • Plan to rebuild The Waffle Shop on K Street
  • Plan to embrace K Street’s wide sidewalks with retail and restaurant uses
  • Will not acquire the rowhouse at 628 New York Ave NW or the small parking lot on the SW corner of 6th and NY Ave
  • In discussion with an entertainment anchor that will have an entrance on 7th and NY Ave and below grade venue. Would not name the anchor but said “It will blow your mind.” Could it be HOB?

Douglas will spend the next year in the entitlements process including presenting this concept to HPRB in December. Another year after that would be spent filing more documents. Ground breaking would still be 2+ years out. You can then of course add another 2+ years for construction. They plan to continue dialect with the MVSNA and present at another meeting in the near future.

UPDATE (11/19/2008 2:00 pm): Cary Silverman’s blog has also posted on the presentation. Cary questions the lack of residential with mixed feelings.

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WBJ reports on Jemal development today

DG-Rad, of Anacostia Now, has informed me that the Washington Business Journal ran a story about Jemal and Square 450 and 451 today in their print edition. A coincidence or did our coverage prod them into contacting Jemal to see what’s up? =)

In the article it says Jemal plans for the project to include 800,000 square feet of office space, 400,000 square of retail, 500 residential units, a boutique hotel and an entertainment attraction such as House of Blues. The article hints that the city’s requirement for housing to be included, given the residential real estate market, has slowed the time frames down for the project as Jemal is “waiting for the storm to go by”.

Two take aways for me: 1) Good to hear House of Blues still being mentioned as I wasn’t sure if Live Nation’s interest had evaporated given their recent deal in downtown Silver Spring. 2) If inclusion of housing is slowing this down the city should ease up on that requirement. The Mount Vernon Triangle will still have the greatest concentration of residential units of any BID even if these two squares have none. Let’s not stall this for years over more residential units.

Near the very bottom of the article WBJ also reports bidding is underway for headquarters of National Public Radio, which NPR will be vacating in 2011. An NPR spokeswoman told WBJ a deal is expected in coming weeks.

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