Babe's to become residential?

With the arrival of Best Buy in Tenleytown expected in the fall, developers are turning their attention to other sites throughout the community, including Babe's Billiards Caf? at 4600 Wisconsin Ave. The plans for the Babe's site have come under scrutiny both by the Tenley community as well as by AU students. It calls for a 65-foot structure containing between 40 and 50 condominiums according to IBG Investors, LLC, the developer who currently owns the site. "It was apparent that the property was underused for an area near a Metro [station]," G. Scott Fuller, senior vice president for development of IBG, said. "The opportunity arose to acquire the property. We thought it would best be used as residential." The plan was first announced at the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3E meeting in April. Initial reports, including an article in the Northwest Current, stated that the development would bring the permanent closing of Babe's. At the May meeting, ANC3E Chair Amy McVey said that there were no plans for the business to close. According to Fuller, the plans call for a retail space on the first floor for the continued occupancy by Babe's. "The current plan is calling for retail on Wisconsin Avenue," Fuller said. Babe's, which has been open since 1993, recently signed a 5-year lease according to the owner, who preferred to remain anonymous. This will allow the combined bar, pool hall and restaurant to remain open until 2008 with the possibility of closing only during construction. The plans for development have drawn complaints from the Coalition to Stop Tenleytown Over-development (CSTO). CSTO founder Bruce Lowrey spoke out at the ANC meeting about both the Babe's development as well as a proposal for the Marten's Volvo dealership at 4800 Wisconsin Ave. The CSTO notes that the proposed developments may bring unwanted traffic and construction to the neighborhood. Their website, www.stopibg.org, warns of the Tenleytown area becoming similar to Bethesda, Md. with its tall apartment and office buildings and limited street retail. IBG Investors is currently compiling community input on the proposal and is planning to file a formal application with the D.C. Zoning Board for a Planned Unit Development in the near future, according to Fuller. The plan still calls for the approval by both by the city government, the zoning board and the two affected ANC's, 3E and 3F. In order for the plan to move forward, the site must be rezoned for mixed-use retail and residential. Fuller is hopeful of approval from all the necessary groups, as community input has been positive.

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