A District government agency yesterday denied a request by a Canadian development firm to convert two condominiums the Columbia Plaza apartment complex in Foggy Bottom.

The Canadian developers, the Vancouver-based Daon Corp. and the Toronto-based Cadillac Fairview Corp., had requested an exemption to the city's condominium moratorium legislation, claiming that they had made a financial investment in the five-building complex large enough to qualify for the exemption. However, the hearing examiner from the Department of Housing and Community Development who decided the case ruled that the developers hadn't made the necessary minimum substantial financial investment of $250,000 as of March last year when they signed the contract with the owners to buy the buildings.

David Kuney, an attorney for the Canadian firm, said the decision will be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Tenants of the 800-unit complex had been vying with the partnership for months over who had the right to buy the $50 million complex and convert it to condominiums.

Columbia Plaza, five buildings between Virginia Avenue and E and 23rd streets NW, is owned by a limited partnership whose general partners are parking magnate Dominic F. Antonelli Jr., investor Edward Mernone and surgeon and real estate entrepreneur Laszlo N. Tauber.