New York Avenue Northeast has proven too difficult for more than one developer.
In the past 10 years, two companies planned grand remakes of the 15-acre site at the corner of New York Avenue NE and Bladensburg Road NE, a highly visible site to thousands of drivers every day. Neither panned out.
Now it’s Doug Jemal’s turn.
Jemal’s Douglas Development has signed a contract to purchase the property, previously pegged for a Wal-Mart store, his son, Norman, confirmed Thursday. Norman Jemal, a principal at the company, said he and his father had not yet closed on the deal or finalized their plans. He did not disclose the price.
“There are a number of different options we are considering for that property,” he said. The owners’ broker for the deal, Gerald Trainor of Transwestern, confirmed the contract but declined comment.
Jemal is betting big on New York Aveue, the northeast gateway to the city, picking up properties other companies dropped, often at a pennies on the dollar. He is already at work on a remake of the historical Hecht’s Co. warehouse a few blocks west, turning the building into a mix of apartments, retail and parking after a previous owner nearly allowed it to fall into foreclosure. A few blocks south, Jemal is rehabbing the Uline Arena (also know as the Washington Coliseum) into a mixt of retail and office space that is attracting the attention of tech companies.
The 15-acre site now under contract has long been considered a grand opportunity to remake the corridor, but previous efforts at developing it withered. Long owned by the Schaeffer family, one of the biggest taxi cab owners in the city, the land was home to a mix of mostly industrial uses when developer Jim Abdo plotted a $1.1 billion project there last decade that he called Arbor Place. When the market collapsed, Abdo walked away, and the Schaeffers kept the property.
Then developer Rick Walker gave it a go, getting Wal-Mart to commit to opening a store there. The rest of his plans never came together though, and when the deal fell apart, the Jemals swooped in.
Will they become the latest victims of the corridor or the ones to finally conquer it?
Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz