Jemal is a prominent D.C. developer and boasts a portfolio of more than 7 million square feet of office and retail space around the nation's capital. His company, Douglas Development, is largely responsible for the gentrification of F Street NW.
Jemal has been targeted in a recent FBI investigation, however. More than a dozen FBI agents raided his company's headquarters in Chinatown Feb. 23 in connection with an ongoing criminal investigation of Michael Lorusso, the former director of the D.C. office of property management, the Washington Post reported.
Lorusso pled guilty in November to bribery conspiracy charges and confessed to proffering million-dollar contracts to companies for frequent travel, extravagant gifts and perks such as luxury cars. In a deal he struck to cooperate with federal authorities, he indirectly referred to Jemal's company as one he may have had a connection with, the Post reports.
Jemal told the Washington Post he wasn't surprised or worried by the raid and has steadfastly denied any impropriety, saying that the company never has received preferential treatment from Lorusso or the city. A spokesperson for Douglas Development did not return calls for comment by press time.
In Richmond, Jemal's reputation gets stellar praise from fellow developers such as Ukrop. "When he enters a room he gives you a bear hug," Ukrop says. "He's not a suit-and-tie kind of guy." More importantly, he says, Jemal sees spirit in old city sites. "He really loves taking a neighborhood that's underappreciated and actualizing its potential," Ukrop says.
Douglas Development added its first Richmond property to its portfolio in August 2002 when it purchased the former First Union Bank headquarters at 7 North 8th St. The building now serves as offices for the Virginia Department of Social Services. Brandon Walters
Letters to the editor may be sent to: email@example.com