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Historic Former Wonder Bread Complex in Shaw to be Restored and Developed

By P.L. Wolff

Accompanying images can be viewed in the current issue PDF

With the fast-gentrifying sections of the city’s historic Shaw neighborhood proceeding apace, real estate trend watchers who follow the strategies of DC-based Douglas Development which is known for acquiring and restoring vintage buildings, were not surprised when its principal, Douglas Jemal, acquired the abandoned former Wonder Bread plant and warehouse in the middle of the 600 block of S Street, NW.

Like the Progression Place project under construction that will occupy the western end of the north side of the block from the alley to the 7th Street corner, Jemal’s adaptive reuse project will be for office occupancy and street-level retail.

Sacha Rosen, AIA, Principal of Georgetown-based R2L:Architects which is responsible for the project’s design, told The InTowner that its approach will be sympathetic to, and compatible with, historic preservation requirements; an application for landmark status was recently submitted to the DC Historic Preservation Board by the DC Preservation League, jointly with Douglas Development. 

As Paul Millstein, Douglas Development’s Vice-President of Construction, assured the Cardozo-Shaw ANC at its September 1st meeting, the façade along S Street will be restored to its “original historically accurate appearance,” while the third floor will be built up but set back far enough so as not to be visible from the street.

And, although DC regulations do not require landmarked properties to provide off-street parking, there will be some limited number of spaces; the Shaw Metro Green/Yellow lines station is a half-block away.

There was concern raised at the ANC meeting whether delivery trucks and other commercial vehicles would adversely impact the surrounding streets, especially the mostly residential Wiltberger on the project’s east side. Architect Rosen stated that this potential problem can be dealt with by widening the adjoining west-side alley that serves the complex to an allowable 20 feet.

The ANC’s commissioners, acting on their Design Review Committee’s recommendation that the project and its design concept be supported, voted unanimously in favor.