A 239,862-square-foot challenge

Mark Douglas will try where others have failed.

The Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer broker last month picked up the listing for the 239,862-square-foot Central National Bank building on Broad Street downtown.

Douglas said he is looking for tenants to lease the art deco building, which sits in a blighted neighborhood and has been empty since 2005, shortly after Washington-based real estate magnate Douglas Jemal purchased it for $5.3 million from local owners.

Eagle Commercial Real Estate had the listing on the building before it went to Thalhimer in April.

Douglas also picked up the listing on three other Jemal properties across Richmond: the 40,000-square-foot Chesterman Place building at 100 W. Franklin St, a 30,000-square-foot building at 730 E. Main St. and two adjoined office properties at the corner of Eighth and Main streets totaling 190,000 square feet.

Douglas said Jemal is not looking to sell but wants to fill the buildings with tenants.

“In Douglas [Jemal], you’ve got an owner who’s got money and is willing to renovate,” Douglas said.

“I’ve already shown each of these properties between three and nine times,” Douglas said. “These range from single-floor users on up. Things are going to be different.”

Jemal sold two big buildings in Richmond last year, both for losses. In December he sold the Interbake cookie factory on Boulevard for $6.1 million to Richmond-based Rebkee.

In August, he sold 111 S. Sixth St. for $5.5 million to Dominion Resources, which hasn’t determined a use. Jemal bought that building in 2007 for $11.8 million.

Mark Douglas will try where others have failed.

The Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer broker last month picked up the listing for the 239,862-square-foot Central National Bank building on Broad Street downtown.

Douglas said he is looking for tenants to lease the art deco building, which sits in a blighted neighborhood and has been empty since 2005, shortly after Washington-based real estate magnate Douglas Jemal purchased it for $5.3 million from local owners.

Eagle Commercial Real Estate had the listing on the building before it went to Thalhimer in April.

Douglas also picked up the listing on three other Jemal properties across Richmond: the 40,000-square-foot Chesterman Place building at 100 W. Franklin St, a 30,000-square-foot building at 730 E. Main St. and two adjoined office properties at the corner of Eighth and Main streets totaling 190,000 square feet.

Douglas said Jemal is not looking to sell but wants to fill the buildings with tenants.

“In Douglas [Jemal], you’ve got an owner who’s got money and is willing to renovate,” Douglas said.

“I’ve already shown each of these properties between three and nine times,” Douglas said. “These range from single-floor users on up. Things are going to be different.”

Jemal sold two big buildings in Richmond last year, both for losses. In December he sold the Interbake cookie factory on Boulevard for $6.1 million to Richmond-based Rebkee.

In August, he sold 111 S. Sixth St. for $5.5 million to Dominion Resources, which hasn’t determined a use. Jemal bought that building in 2007 for $11.8 million.

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Drew
Drew
10 years ago

In the second picture, is that the first floor? If so, it could make a great event venue. It is beautifully appointed.

Freddie
Freddie
10 years ago

Mr. Jemal, at last, has the right man for the job

Maggie Yehl-Oh
Maggie Yehl-Oh
10 years ago

The style of design in the 2nd picture looks similar to the National Building Museum in DC. Beautiful – lots of potential, as Drew said. Too often, we forget the hidden jewels when bright shiny, new buildings come along. I guess Jemal saw potential in those properties but saw that Richmond’s economy had little pulse. He probably focused his resources in DC where his profits outweighed the losses he took on the Richmond properties. If he had taken a chance in Richmond, would life come back to the blighted neighborhoods?

Zach
Zach
10 years ago

Maggie, I think we can look at the Bottom and see how successful developers have been at rehabbing old buildings over the past 5 or so years. Jemal has sat on most of his holdings in Richmond for the better part of a decade now – and though he may talk the talk, he has done nothing with them. Only over the past year, as he has sold these properties off, have we seen anything done with them (Dominion occupies a building downtown, the Interbake building becoming apartments). He was a huge barrier to redevelopment on those buildings and he… Read more »

Brett
Brett
10 years ago

In his defense he has rehabbed quite a few buildings on Broad St. He just hasn’t been able to lease them yet. There are signs in the windows, there’s just probably no one willing to pay the rent that a nicely rehabbed building requires. Also, there is already life coming to this blighted neighborhood, although he may have been a bit early starting 10 years ago. Nearby there are a number of future and recently completed projects. The face of downtown Richmond is changing rapidly.

K Street NW
K Street NW
10 years ago

Jemal has done some great projects, but this news from DC is troubling:
http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/housingcomplex/2012/05/09/blight-flight/

Jay
Jay
10 years ago

Among the (sometimes frustrating) things that people forget or don’t understand about Jemal and DDC is that he has the patience (and money) to just hold/sit on a property for years and years at a time before ultimately flipping it or redeveloping it.

Who knows how long he’s willing to sit on the CNB tower. Hopefully redevelopment comes sooner than later.

To be honest I’d like to see the property in the hands of a local developer but if Jemal can get it done, more power to him….