Developer Doug Jemal purchased the old Atlantic Building site in downtown Washington yesterday, saying he plans to combine it with property he owns next door to create a new office and retail project.
The Clover Cos. sold the property at 926 F St. NW to Mr. Jemal, a longtime Washington developer. Terms were not disclosed.
Clover demolished much of the 1880s-era Atlantic Building in November 2000, except for the building’s historic facade. Mr. Jemal said he will combine the property with property he owns next door, the Lane Bryant building, to create a new office and retail complex.
The Atlantic’s original facades will be incorporated into the new project, Mr. Jemal said. He said he does not know when redevelopment will occur or how big the new project will be.
“I just bought it today. I’m not a magic man,” Mr. Jemal said.
Downtown development activists, who have been upset that the Atlantic’s facades have sat vacant along F Street for more than a year, said they hope Mr. Jemal will begin redeveloping the Atlantic property soon.
“Hopefully Mr. Jemal will restore the building to its original glory and pull together a mix of uses that will continue the revitalization of F Street,” said Terry Lynch, executive director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations, a church-backed group that pushes for redevelopment in the District.
Mr. Jemal is one of Washington’s prolific developers. He also owns the eight-story Woodward & Lothrop building at 10th and F streets NW, a strip of storefronts in Chinatown and other property in the city.
“Jemal is a good property owner, and I know we will get a good project from him,” said D.C. Council member Harold Brazil, at-large Democrat and chairman of the council’s Economic Development Committee.
The eight-story Atlantic Building opened in 1888, the largest commercial building in Washington at the time and one of the first office buildings with elevators. A group of Washington businessmen, including lawyers, bankers and the editor of the old Washington Star newspaper, developed the property.
President Benjamin Harrison used the building as his inauguration headquarters. For several years, beginning in 1940, it served as the headquarters of the U.S. Forest Service.
The Atlantic later became home to local art studios and the old 9:30 Club bar. Eventually, tenants drifted away and the building sat vacant for many years.
Clover purchased the property following the opening of the nearby MCI Center in 1997.