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Douglas Development Acquires BET's Former D.C. Headquarters

The former BET headquarters building at 1901 W Place NE.

The former headquarters of Black Entertainment Television, a shiny office building that looms over New York Avenue in Northeast D.C., has sold to a prolific local developer. 

Douglas Development Corp. acquired the four parcels that make up the former BET campus for $16.4M, according to two deeds posted Thursday in the D.C. Recorder of Deeds.

Douglas Managing Principal Norman Jemal confirmed the acquisition via text message but declined to comment. Savills, which represented BET in the sale, also confirmed the deal closed. 

The 7.8-acre complex campus sits near the intersection of Brentwood Road and V Street NE. It consists of the six-story, 99K SF office tower, a 57K SF studio-flex building and a 39K SF warehouse, all of which are vacant, according to Savills. 

BET was founded in D.C. in 1979 by Robert and Sheila Johnson and was acquired in 2000 by Viacom. In 2017, it shifted its headquarters from the Northeast D.C. building to New York, where Viacom is located. 

The company then retained Savills to market the property for sale, and a Savills broker told Bisnow in 2017 it was close to a deal at the time, but a sale didn't materialize.

Savills' Parker Lange, Vernon Knarr, Art Greenberg and Kelly Givens represented ViacomCBS Realty Corp. in selling the property.

The brokerage firm said that a majority of the property is subject to a ground lease, adding a layer of complexity to the deal. It said it marketed the property globally to investors, developers and owner-occupiers before Viacom selected Douglas. And it noted the property is located in an opportunity zone, providing potential tax incentives for a redevelopment. 

Douglas hasn't unveiled its plans for the site, but the company has been one of the most active developers in Northeast D.C.

It spearheaded the growth of nearby Ivy City with its Hecht Warehouse redevelopment, surrounded by a host of retailers, restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries and a winery. The developer also transformed the historic Uline Arena in NoMa into a mixed-use project with office and retail including an REI store and a brewery. It also developed a 296-unit apartment project in Brookland and a 28-unit project on H Street NE. 

Near Ivy City, Douglas has for years planned the huge New City DC mixed-use development, though the project hasn't moved forward and it sold a portion of the site last year. In January, Douglas filed plans for a 557-unit project next to the Dave Thomas Circle intersection in NoMa.