Landlord wants to reconstruct vacant Fresh Grill, Red Tomato Buildings

The shuttered BCC Automotive garage would be demolished in  a redevelopment proposal revealed ThursdayThe latest redevelopment project proposed for Woodmont Triangle is of an increasingly rare variety — a low-rise, retail- only retrofit that would bring a relatively minimal amount of extra space.

Greenhill Capital, based just next door, wants to reconstruct the Fairmont Avenue building that used to house Fresh Grill and the vacant St Elmo Avenue building that used to be home to Red Tomato Cafe.

Todd Brown, an attorney representing Greenhill, said the project’s first step would be the demolition of the auto garage in the middle of the property that used to be home to BCC Automotive.

In the proposal, Greenhill would also build a brand new 1,500-square-foot building connecting the former Fresh Grill (4905 Fairmont Ave.) and former Blackfinn (4901 Fairmont Ave.) buildings. None of the new development would be any taller than two stories.

Both BCC Automotive and Red Tomato Cafe vacated their properties in January amid an ongoing legal dispute between Greenhill subsidiaries and developer Bainbridge, which has nearly finished its 17-story apartment building next door.

The property owner alleged that shoddy foundation work on the Bainbridge apartment building led to cracks and structural issues in the Fresh Grill and Red Tomato buildings. The LLC that officially owns the vacant Fresh Grill building was awarded $3.2 million in damages for a lawsuit against Bainbridge and its construction contractors.

At a required public meeting on Thursday before submitting a preliminary plan for the project, Brown said reconstruction of the vacant Red Tomato building would happen in a later phase.

Earlier this month, Greenhill founder Lenny Greenberg said the start of the Red Tomato building reconstruction depends largely on the outcome of the lawsuit.

The proposal also includes an additional 5,400-square-foot building that would be built behind the reconstructed former Red Tomato building.

The Fairmont Avenue side of the project could start construction in spring 2015 and take 8-10 months to finish. Brown said the relative light density of the project “clearly is an interim use,” hinting that a larger-scale redevelopment could be in play down the road.

A separate property owner controls the 4906 St Elmo Ave. (Bangkok Garden restaurant) and 7820 Norfolk Ave. (Hanaro Restaurant & Lounge) buildings, putting a full-block redevelopment proposal just out of reach for Greenhill.

The former BlackFinn building — which also houses the popular Bold Bite hot dog, burger and breakfast restaurant — will remain unchanged in the proposal.

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