Residents of the well-to-do Tenleytown section of upper Northwest Washington showed their organizing skills last year when they protested construction of a large office-theater complex at 4000 Wisconsin Ave.
Their antidevelopment campaign failed to stop the building but apparently generated plenty of Ward 3 votes against Mayor Marion Barry in his successful reelection campaign in November.
Now the same community organizers -- including lawyers, accountants and other professionals of all stripes -- are preparing to launch a new war against another project next to the office-theater project that they contend is out of scale with their neighborhood: a new headquarters and broadcast facility for television station WUSA (Channel 9).
"Our picket signs are ready," said Joel Odum, president of the Tenley and Cleveland Park Emergency Committee (TACPEC), which is organizing the drive. "We don't want to do battle, but if forced to, we will."
The developer of the planned $15 million, 163,000-square-foot building on the site of the J.T. Ribbs restaurant is the Donohoe Cos., the same one that drew residents' ire for its adjacent project, which is still under construction.
Representatives of WUSA and its corporate parent, Gannett Co., could not be reached for comment about their move seven blocks south on Wisconsin from their 1950s-vintage headquarters at Brandywine Street. But they have been aware of Tenley concerns, meeting repeatedly with the protesters to calm the waters.
"They keep saying, 'Channel 9 doesn't want to make people mad,' " Odum said. "We keep saying, 'Don't you realize this is a hotbed here?' "
The protesters want the station to reduce the size of its structure and find a new entrance other than one from Glover-Archbold Parkway, a new road that some residents believe should be scrapped and designated part of the adjoining Archbold-Glover Park.
The developers have a right to build the project under current zoning, but the D.C. planning office is expected to release a report about it soon and can make recommendations.