Holladay Corp., a Washington-based residential building firm, has signed a contract with Chicago-based Stein & Co. to buy 9.4 acres of vacant land along Wisconsin Avenue at McLean Gardens.

The land had been rezoned last year to allow Stein to build a controversial $60 million project which was to include 625 new condominium apartments in a series of six- to 10-story buildings, plus an office and shopping center with a minimum of 772 new parking spaces.

Leroy Eakin III, senior vice president of Holladay, said the firm would propose modifications to the approved development plan but declined to describe the proposed changes or the character of the plan.

"We have some preliminary ideas for what we intend to propose for the development but we want to discuss those ideas with the neighborhood," he said.

Holladay has been in business here almost 30 years, Eakin said. Some of Holladay's recent development projects include the 300-apartment complex at 4100 Massachusetts Ave. NW, which one resident described as "a first-class building"; Connecticut Heights Apartments at Connecticut Avenue and Davenport Street, which included both new and renovated apartments; and Kenwood Forest townhouses in Chevy Chase.

"We've done mostly residential work," Eakin said.

The vacant property purchased by Holladay, along Wisconsin between Idaho Avenue and Rodman Street, was part of the original McLean Gardens development, a group of 31 three-story brick buildings of World War II vintage scattered on 43 acres. The complex was one of the largest concentrations of moderately priced rental housing in Washington until its conversion to condominiums amid a protracted and stormy battle.

Earlier this year, an investment group agreed to buy 411 condominiums that were still vacant, more than half of them still needing renovation at the time, and to rent them out. Julie Koczela, assistant vice president of a management subsidiary of Stein and Co., which continues to renovate and manage the rental condos, said that 276 of the units have been rented to date. A section with about 120 units is still under renovation, which will be completed by the fall, she said.

Holladay's Eakin declined to reveal the price paid for the land. Stein officials in Chicago couldn't be reached for comment.