Founder & President
Douglas Jemal was born in Brooklyn, New York and came to Washington, DC in 1966. Douglas began his career in the retail trade with a small store on 7th Street NW. He soon expanded into the electronics and music business, and by the mid-1980’s had created one of the most successful retail electronics chains in the nation.
Douglas branched into real estate in the early 1980’s, purchasing his first parcel at 425 7th Street NW in 1981. Since then he has focused on purchasing and developing distinctive commercial properties in urban areas, such as Wonder Plaza (the former Wonder Bread bakery) near Howard University, Jemal’s Park & Shop (on Connecticut Avenue, the oldest strip shopping center on the east coast), the historic block of 7th Street between G and H in Chinatown and the Historic Woodies Building at Metro Center. He believes in the hands-on approach to development and is actively involved at the design, construction and leasing of all his properties.
Douglas is particularly noted for his unprecedented success in preserving historic architecture while transforming properties into viable and successful retail, office or residential sites. His retail background provides him with valuable insight into the needs of the eventual tenant while construction is underway, as well as the proper mix and placement of tenants once leasing commences.
In addition to restoring notable buildings and revitalizing historic neighborhoods, Douglas Jemal is an active philanthropist proud to give back to the Washington, DC community. Noteworthy charitable contributions in recent years include donations to the Children’s Hospital, Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Shaw Main Street, Animal Rescue Foundation, Manna Inc., and The Studio Theatre Inc., among several others.
In recognition of his philanthropic work and historic preservation efforts, Douglas has received various honors and awards, including the 2014 District of Columbia Awards for Excellence in Historic Preservation Lifetime Achievement Award, Washingtonian’s “45 People who Shaped Washington” in 2010; the Mayor’s Award for “Excellence in Rehabilitation and New Construction” in 2009; the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s “Hitchcock Humanitarian Award” in 2007; and the Washington Chapter of the American Institute of Architects’ “Merit Award, Historic Resources Category” in 2004 for Historic 7th Street. Additionally, the Downtown BID recognized Douglas as its “Citizen of the Year” in 2010 for his many contributions to the city over the course of his career.
He currently serves on the Downtown Developers’ Roundtable, providing expertise and counsel on important economic and development issues within Washington, DC.