Wednesday, April 23, 2014

1533 9th St NW- Shiloh Shame

There are many churches in the Shaw area, some with real estate beyond their worship building. The United House of Prayer (UHOP) has real property all over the neighborhood, and in recent years have decided to populate the area with Suzane Reatig buildings, for various income levels. Mt. Sinai Baptist Church in the Truxton Circle part of Shaw, uses the townhomes across from it's main building for various church activities and ministries. Mt Lebanon Baptist, though not owning the former MM Washington School has managed to turn the property into senior housing.

1533 9th St NW 4 Sadly Shiloh Baptist Church has proven itself incompetent to deal with it's long held properties. However this post will focus on one 1533 9th St NW. Unfortunately, this property is in as just as poor shape as the church's other 9th St properties.
During our walk around the neighborhood looking at vacant and previously vacant properties, we spoke with Ken R. who lives adjacent to the problem property. He informed us of the various problems he's encountered and efforts he's made to attempt to improve the situation. The city government, in it's various functions have failed him, with police who fail to move vagrants and the tax office which until recently failed to tax 1533 9th St NW at the vacant tax rate. He did praise the Fenty administration for getting the church to replace plywood windows with plexiglass.
1533 9th St NW 6
Plexiglass window

1533 9th St NW was a little hard to locate in DC Office of Tax and Revenue's Assessment database, as the "NW" was dropped. The property at SSL: 0397 0031 has an odd history of tax payments. This year for 1533 9th, the city collected $12,325.40 the vacant rate. Last year, $3,910.70. In 2012, $8,507.61.  2012 is an interesting year, the city charged the church for this property $26,240.70, and credited them $19,671.12. There are various reasons for this but the database doesn't state why. Looking at what the city charges it seems that there are years the city wasn't charging the vacant rate, such as 2013 and 2011, even though the property has been vacant for well over a decade, with no brief moments of legitimate occupancy. The 2011 taxes might be explained with a permit (B0908078/BZA NO. 18059) issued in July 2011 for construction of an addition. The first photo in this post is of the rear of 1533. There is no addition. One could look at the permit as a ruse to put off the vacant tax rate, or more proof that the church is incapable of following through with its plans.
1533 9th St NW 2
Later I will look at other 9th St Shiloh vacant properties.In the meanwhile here's some fun facts.
Shiloh has an estimated Sunday attendance of 2000. In 1957 it had an average attendance of 1200-1500. In 1957 about 97% of its parishioners did not live in the Shaw area, but rather in other parts of DC. Now many members live outside of the District of Columbia.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

1530 3rd St NW- still vacant

1530ish 3rd St NW1530 3rd St NW has been vacant with plywood in the windows for some time. It has been owned by John K Jones since 2003 who lists his address as 1530 3rd St NW.
From 2011-2013 the property was taxed at a higher rate, possibly the vacant and blighted rate since the taxes ranged from $14K to $30K. It was also taxed $33,839.00 in 2009, for all other years between 2005 and 2010 less than $3,000 was owed for those tax years. For the first half of 2014, this year, the property is being taxed at the lower residential rate, not the vacant rate.
Checking DCRA's PIV, the last permit issued was back in 2006. Under "Residential Cases" it appears that it was checked 2/19/2014 and found to be vacant (ID # SVP1400061). But there is a line "Compliance/Housing/Open and Accessible" and "Abated" for 2/6/2014. There doesn't seem to be any logical reason why this is not being taxed at the vacant rate.
John Jones is a very common name, but with the middle initial I looked up the name in the Social Security Death Index. A John K. Jones whose last known residence was Washington, DC 20001, SS#***-52-6003, died September 14, 2004. I gather a bank is paying the taxes. If so the bank, the estate, whomever, is better off selling the shell to a developer.

Extra- Previous blog posts about 1530 3rd St NW
1530 3rd St NW-After the Fire
1530 3rd St NW- Work being done

Friday, April 18, 2014

9th and Q- no vacancy

Ray's ArtThis image is a chestnut from 2008, showcasing guerrilla citizenry or guerrilla government. Ray, an oldtimer who lives near the intersection of 9th and Q, is credited with painting this abandoned. Not just slapping a random coat of paint on, no, he painted on the wishes and dreams of the neighborhood. A wish for a nice cafe, with chairs and a white table cloth and maybe Starbucks like coffee being served would appear where a rotting corpse of a building sits. If you can read French, which I can't, there is some humor in the words painted.
821 Q St NWWell fast forward to today and there is no cafe but rather nice looking residence. On the list on right there was a link to a now defunct blog Off Seventh about the problem area that was the intersection of Q and 9th Streets NW.
Around the mid-00's this area was an intersection of vacancy. Even across the street, opposite of 821 Q NW, was a hole of despair. Ray or some others called it "Lake Woodson", as it would fill up with rainwater. It was not a pretty sight, but if you want to see what it looked like visit and . Now that former hole in the ground is a residential building with a couple of units, as seen in the image below.

800 blk Q St 2
The area has gentrified and there are still vacant holes along 9th Street needing to be filled, which displaces nobody, unless you count homeless squatters and rats. Just around the corner are vacant and possibly vacant properties, those I will deal with next week.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

1314 and 1316 9th St NW- No Vacancy

Yesterday I wrote about what a great location 1316 8th St NW was, being steps from really cool places, such as a bar. Former vacant spots featured here were 1316 9th St NW and 1314 9th St NW over at Renew Shaw. My predecessor Ed described 1316 as such in 2008:
This former barbershop was bought by a developer on 09/13/2007 for $300,000. The developer's presentation at the ANC2f meeting on 1/9/2008 was very encouraging and I wish them luck.

It should be noted that the building is in horrible condition due to the negligence of the previous owners and the city government's inaction. Remarkably, it is not listed as vacant by OTR or DCRA. The current owner is entitled to an exemption though.  
Renew Shaw wrote of 1314 in 2007, "Between be bar and Long View Gallery and adjacent to an alley of Naylor Court, it seems to sit a prime lower 9th location. Sadly, it appears to be falling into disrepair and largely vacant."
1314 9th St NW 2Today 1314 is the A& D bar and 1316 is the Thally Restaurant. In between them at 1314 1/2 is the innovative Seasonal Pantry. And around the corner and in the alley, in possibly the same building as A&D is Sundevich. All of these commercial enterprises make this area a concentrated spot of foodie heaven.
A&D Neighborhood Bar opened in 2012 on Repeal Day. I, myself have been in once. It's a Shaw bar with pretty decent Yelp reviews. I'm sure everyone is happy it is open and a viable business.
Around the alley is Sundevich. It is a fancy sandwich shop. The sandwiches are fancy, not the shop, which can get crowded. It opened in 2011.
At 1314 1/4 is Seasonal Pantry, which is part special foods store part supper club and the minds behind this shop brought forth Sundevich. This also opened around 2011, but was engaging in a CSA like business before that. The Supper club is quite popular and seating is VERY limited. Looking at April's supper club availability, there is only one seat available. It is very popular.
1316 9th St NW 21316 9th St NW is a regular sit down restaurant with wait service. Thally opened in 2013 and got decent reviews. I've eaten there once, and had an enjoyable meal once the waitress acknowledged our existence. It does get a bit loud once the crowd comes, but it is the same with other new restaurants that have come along 9th St (Table/ Baby Wale).
Back in 2007-2008 none of us could have imagined what a wonderful tasty corner this has become. Life has been shot back into a section of 9th St NW. It is more attractive and makes the neighborhood more desirable. So with that I remove 1314 and 1316 9th St NW from the list on the right of vacant properties.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

1316 8th St NW

1316 8th St NWI feel kinda bad about this, but not that bad. A neighbor mentioned that when she was looking for a house, she looked into 1316 8th St NW. But her handyman/contractor/friend said the foundation had a crack or some deal-killer like that. It could be someone's home if I gather that foundation thing got fixed or accommodated. The block is getting better, it is steps, literally steps away from the new Giant and a future Starbucks. When the Scripture Cathedral around the block finally pulls up and out and the developers put a cool new building where the church and the parking lot (partially shared with Immaculate Conception Roman catholic Church) sits, it will be even steps closer to cool stuff. But for now, it is a vacant house.
I know it is vacant for it has no drapes or anything on the 1st floor. I have been looking through the front window with a clear view of the back for at least a year or two or three now. It isn't a problem property. The yard is minimally kept up.
Looking at the DC tax office website, this was bought in 2009 for $425,500 by Martin E Hardy of McLean, VA and as far as I can tell, he has been paying the normal tax rate. According to DCRA's PIV application the last permit issued is from 2012 for some repair and construction reading as "Removal of paint from existing brick masonry using gentle chemical cleaning; tuck pointing to match original mortar color; repair of existing metal wall coping; repair of damaged brick arches. Removal of existing vinyl windows to be replaced with new, wood, two-over-tow, double-glazed, double-hung ..." Next time I walk by I need to check out the windows, see if they are wood. As I mentioned in other posts, one way to get from being charged the higher vacant tax rate is to get permits for work. Sometime work is not done, and a permit is way cheaper than the higher rate. 
Shame really because it is in a really great location. Steps from a grocery store, a good bar, a great restaurant, a pilates studio, the metro, a dry cleaner, the metro, bus routes, and you could walk to the Verizon Center. This location is wasted on being vacant.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

1549 9th St NW-possibly vacant or just poorly maintained

1549 9th St NW 3
1549 has a brick problem. A portion of the brick facade over the first floor window is falling out or has fallen out. As you can see in the image. The rest of the house looks like it has crappy windows, which I totally understand. I have crappy windows, windows which I hope to replace soon. There is that winter plastic in the upstairs windows, it does very little good after one season.
It is possible that 1549 is not vacant, but rather is just poorly maintained. Amazingly none of the brick appears to have harmed the windows. It is taxed at the regular rate.
According to the DC tax office website it is owned by a Rose Chapman of Glenarden, MD. A quick look on the internet ( seem to hint of a Rose M Chapman of a certain age in Glenarden, MD and a Rose Marie Chapman who died in 2005. The deceased RMC was 90 and lived in Washington, the Maryland RMC seems old enough to be a member of AARP but I am not confident enough to say she is the same person and may be alive.
Back in 2011 condos were supposed to be coming to this stretch of buildings, between 1549 and 1539, according to an article in the MidCity magazine. It's 2014.

Monday, April 14, 2014

1209 4th St NW

1209 4th St NW 4 sale
I was very happy to see that I can take a property off the vacant list with a nice "Under Contract" sign in front of 1209 4th St NW.
The Mount Vernon Square Neighborhood Association once had a 2008 posting about this property titled "1209 4th Going Down". Don't know what that was about. But the street has seen some new properties popping up since 2008.
It appears that 1209 are two condos and according to the DC Office of Tax and Revenue page, they were last sold in 2013 for well over 1/2 a mill each. And according to my very quick calculations collected about $4575 in property taxes from this plot of dirt in 2013 and received $4362 so far for the 1st half of 2014. With at least one resident I can guess the DC government is also getting income taxes.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Vacant Update Walk

Today my spouse (the Help) and I took a fun walk around Shaw and Mount Vernon Square to take pictures of houses previously listed on DC Vacant Properties and/or written about on other blogs and found extras that will get their own posts.
I'm happy to say many houses that were once vacant are now occupied or in the process of being renovated or are up for sale. 1314 9th St NW and 1316 9th St NW which were written about in 2007 are now hip cool commercial establishments housing the A&D bar, Seasonal Pantry, Sundevich, and Thally. I've enjoyed all of these fine places and their presence on 9th Street have given the area a positive foodie vibe.
In the coming days and weeks I'll take on each property. For the properties that returned to the land of the living, gold stars and kudos to those who made it possible, and they will be removed from the list on the right. For those houses and lots that continue to rob their neighbors of their piece of mind, that are a blight on the block and just don't do anything good, they will get the spotlight. We pray that eventually, those vacant properties will also become homes and vibrant businesses, that bring tax revenue and neighborly good will to the city.

Also if there is a property in your neck of the District that needs the spotlight please contact me at mari at inshaw dot com with the subject line "Vacant property".

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

326 T St NW

The Washington Post had an article about a long vacant home of an African American notable, which goes with the Black History Month theme here at DC Vacant Properties.
The property has been owned by Howard University since 1998 and at one point money was raised and spent to deal with the bricks and roof. It sits in an historic district and it has been designated an historic home due to its former tenant Mary Church Terrell. According to the article it will cost 1.7 million to renovate. Considering Howard University's present financial problems, it doesn't look like they are going to raise the money anytime soon. But who knows, the Howard Theater was in poor horrid shape for years with impotent leadership, then change happened and eventually real improvement happened and now it is a place where you can get some overpriced food while watching entertainment on the stage.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

1251 4th St NW

 Here is a story of how to avoid the vacant tax rate. There are two little tricks to buy time. One is to get a permit to do work on the vacant property. The property won't be taxed at the higher rate while significant work is being done. To the left is a permit for repairs of the Hoagie House (see image above). Windows were put in, but not much more. There is a long story of the ever vacant Hoagie House and the blighted tax rate has been a part of that story. The permit sports the name of a person who has been involved with other projects that have taken far longer than normal to get off the ground, such as the North Capitol firehouse. The permit is also set to expire in a few days, which brings us to the second way to avoid the vacant tax rate.
Putting a vacant and blighted property on the market is the second method that holds off the vacant tax rate. A few days ago 1251 4th St NW, was put on the market for $2.4 million dollars. This includes lot 0858 and lot 0873 and it is a commercial property. According to whomever is selling this they are awaiting zoning approval to divide into 3 lots and they say the structure has a certificate of occupancy for four units. Any buyer should verify that last statement, as DCRA's online permit application didn't show any certificates of occupancy. Other headache for any potential buyer is this property is that it is in an historic district. Looking at DCRA's PIVS, it appears that the property was found to be vacant, but is being taxed at the commercial rate.