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Famous Richmond Cookie Factory Condemned

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The former FFV-Interbake building, owned by Washington developer Douglas Jemal, was condemned by city officials last week.  Photo by Scott Elmquist
  • The former FFV-Interbake building, owned by Washington developer Douglas Jemal, was condemned by city officials last week.  Photo by Scott Elmquist

The city has condemned the former FFV-Interbake building near Broad Street and the Boulevard.

Responding to complaints about homeless people and skateboarders using the building, city inspectors visited last Wednesday and found that it was “open to entry and the elements,” city spokesman Mike Wallace says. Doors and windows were broken.

“Utilizing the normal code-enforcement process,” Wallace says via e-mail, “the property was condemned so that the property could be secured.”

Recent visitors also reported parties taking place in the building and copper wiring being stolen.

For decades the factory filled the area with the intoxicating smell of cookies (and occasionally the noxious smell of a burned batch). Interbake, a major maker of Girl Scout cookies, moved its operation to Front Royal in 2006.

In 2005, Washington-based developer Douglas Jemal bought the building and its 6.3-acre surroundings for $6.7 million. Various development proposals were floated, but nothing stuck.

Jemal's company, Douglas Development, specializes in renovating older buildings. Jemal owns more than 30 properties in central Richmond, totaling nearly $82 million in assessed value.

His holdings include the art-deco Central National Bank tower property (assessed at $2.9 million), the former United Way building and parking lot on Broad Street (assessed at $2.1 million), and office buildings at 405 E. Franklin St. ($15.8 million) and 110 S. Seventh St. ($12.1 million).

In August the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that Jemal owed Richmond $293,777 in real estate taxes, including $65,658 for the cookie factory. Records indicate that he's paid up almost all he owes. Future plans for his properties, most of which he bought between 2002 and 2008, remain unclear.

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