Tenants at the Columbia Plaza apartment complex in Foggy Bottom will soon know whether the city will allow a Canadian partnership to convert their building into condominiums, a move the tenants have fought for months.
Representatives of the developers will present concluding arguments Thursday in their appeal to the city to grant them an exemption to the condominium conversion moratorium. The city twice denied them an exemption.
The tenants and the developers, the Vancouver-based Daon Corp. and the Toronto-based Cadillac Fairview Corp., participated in five days of hearings beginning April 22. After concluding arguments on Thursday, a hearing officer of the Department of Housing and Community Development must render a decision within five working days, according to Mimi Jones of the department's staff.
The Canadians "will present their case as to why the city was wrong to deny their application for conversion," Jones said.
If the hearing officer rules against the Canadians they can appeal to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Jones said. Most of the time the hearing officers uphold the city's decision, Jones added.
In March 1979 Doan-Cadillac signed a contract with the owners to buy the buildings under an arrangement in which the owners will retain the land and the commercial parking spaces. Daon-Cadillac will lease the land for, about $600,000 a year, according to court documents.
The tenants had been vying with the partnership for months over who had the right to buy the $50 million complex and convert it to condominiums. Both sides eventually sued the owners to try to determine who had the right.
Daon-Cadillac is currently working toward a settlement of the proposed sale and expects it shortly, said a lawyer for the Canadians. No settlement date has been set yet, he said, adding "The contract is still alive and well." d
Last January D.C. Superior Court Judge William E. Stewart Jr. cleared the way for the foreign corporation to purchase the 800-unit complex. The judge ruled that Columbia Plaza's tenants, who also tired to buy the building, didn't reach a sales agreement with the owners within the time allotted by city law.
Columbia Plaza, five buildings between Virginia Avenue and E and 23rd streets NW, currently is owned by a limited partnership whose general partners are parking magnate Dominic F. Antonelli Jr., investor Edward Mernone and surgeon and real estate enterpreneur Laszlo N. Tauber. e
The buildings are located at 2400, 2440, and 2450 Virginia Ave. NW; 2301 E. St. NW and 500 23rd St. NW.
Meanwhile, rumors are flying around the complex.
"We have heard absolutely nothing," said Barbara Otis, tenant association president. "There are tons of rumors going around. We don't know anything." p