Housing Complex

Latest Potential Maybe Sometime Use For Wonder Bread Factory

Lease the damn thing already.

Teasing, teasing.

The Wonder Bread Factory in Shaw is a lovely relic, as industrial carcasses go, but Shaw residents have long been ready to see it put to use. Lately, owner Douglas Development has been offering a glimmer of hope: ANC Commissioner Myla Moss said at a meeting last week that she'd heard a group out of New York was interested in putting a boutique hotel on the site. Housing Complex inquired with the company's Paul Millstein, who said that he had "nothing good" to report but that "we're trying."

I would have left it at that, but Millstein told community members at an ANC 1B meeting tonight the same thing: The factory could possibly become a boutique hotel. If nothing's happening, they're sure trying to make it look like something's happening.

As far as actual effort, though, it's unclear how much the company is putting in. Doug Jemal bought the building back in 1997–the deed shows a purchase price of $10–and Chip Ellis wanted to buy it in 2006 as part of his burgeoning Shaw entertainment hub. Now, the factory isn't listed on the company's website (though it features many other vacant retail spaces downtown). They might want to do something with it soon, because tax records show that Douglas is in arrears by $113,916.86 for 2009 and the first half of 2010.

Believe it or not, the United States is littered with old Wonder Bread factories, many of which have found new uses in recent years. Here are some:

1. One in Hoboken, NJ houses tenants including a skateboard manufacturing company, and the owner plans to turn it into condominiums.

2. One in Seattle, Washington was torn down for a 248-unit apartment complex, and re-topped with the historic sign (D.C.'s preservation laws might not allow that, but still, food for thought).

3. With the help of a state grant, one in Columbus, Ohio is slated to become a multi-use complex of artist studios, retail, performance and exhibit spaces known as the Wonderland.

4. One in San Diego, California became a for-lease office/retail space called the Wonderbreadhaus.

And D.C. has a better market than all of them!

Photo via flickr user voteprime.

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