Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Rumor- 'Bout Jo Mamo Property-1600 N. Capitol

Jo Mamo lot 5Sometime this year I was at a gathering and happen to chat with a fellow who was in the construction/ development business for large buildings. We got on the topic of Joe Mamo's (yes, sounds like 'Yo Momma') lot at the corner of Florida Avenue NW and North Capitol. The gentleman I was speaking with asked about the immediate area trying to get a sense of the value and feasibility of retail. I was honest, because as much as I would love that stretch of North Capitol to get cool stuff, there are some challenges that around that location that needs to address. But talking to the fellow one challenge is Joe Mamo, he wants too much for the land. Mamo is willing to sell, if the price is right, for him.
Joe Mamo has also been reanimating a dead PUD. Earlier this year he had a 2009 PUD extended for two more years.
Tax-wise this is not a vacant property, and listed as commercial.  Even though it is a vacant lot, and has been a vacant lot for many years, I gather things are different for commercial properties. Understandably, it is not in Mr. Mamo's name but in the name of the Five Q LLC. The owners pay about $23K a year in property tax. Despite that, I think this will probably remain vacant for many more years.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Waffle Shop- 2014 Update

UntitledYou can search Penn Quarter Living for what's going on with the old Waffle Shop at 522 10th St NW. Right now, nothing. The only thing left is the 'S' from Shop part of the Waffle Shop sign.
You can still see the signage for the Help-Shop a New York City based company that set up a pop-up shop at the old Waffle Shop back in 2012. As with commercial pop-ups, there here then they are gone.
When looking for the tax records I hit a snag. Apparently there is no 522 10th St NW. 504 10h St NW is the Lincoln Waffle House a few doors down, in the tax database it is 504-508 10th St NW( 0347 0826). Then there is 512 10th (0347 0825), various units of 514 10th owned by Ford's Theatre, then 516 10th (0347 0823) owned by the District of Columbia, 518 10th (0347 0822), and that's where the numbers end. I did find 522 10th in the DCRA PIVS. There was a permit issued in 2012.  It seems that it may be part of 1000-1006 F St NW (0347 0023) around the corner, owned by "JAMEL STERLING LP & JAMEL'S UP AGAINST THE WALL LLC".  Jamel's Up Against The Wall is listed as the owner of 522 10th St NW in PIVS.
You know if you just switch up the e and the a in Jamel, you have Jemal, as in Douglas Jemal. Downtown vacant commercial property in no rush it seems to be useful? Smells like Jemal. Looking at the Douglas Development site there is something in their 1000 F St NW info packet that has 10th St facing retail and something about construction starting in 2013. It's hard to say of any work is going on and it doesn't matter if it is taxed at the vacant rate or not. Commercial property taxes downtown are crazy high anyway and Jemal develops a property when he's damned well ready to and nobody can rush him or his company.

Monday, July 21, 2014

1740 New Jersey Avenue NW- under construction?

Construction trucksI took this picture a while ago but the blog "Short Articles about Long Meetings" confirmed what was going on with this property near the intersections of NJ, RI and Florida Avenues. It has been vacant since 2011, if not longer. There was a widow of a physician living in the house previously, but now the current owners are seeking to renovate the property into condos, the details you can read at the SAaLM link above.
Tax-wise the property appears to have been vacant since 2009, when the yearly tax jumped from  $1,564 in 2008 to $7,008 the following year. It has a class 3, which is the vacant rate, exception. The current owner, Newton St Development LLC bought the property in January 2014. In that same month a postcard permit was issued for internal demolition of non-bearing elements.
Considering that the ANC voted against the zoning variances the developers would need, it doesn't appear that anything is going to happen to this property any time soon, and thus will remain vacant.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Langston School- Vacant forever

Lamgston School.JPGThe Langston School on the unit block of P St NW has been vacant for-like-ever. This photograph is from 2007. There have been some improvements, like better boarded up windows and doors. According to Wikipedia the school has been vacant sometime after 1997 when it closed and it is on the National Register of Historic places.
At the Bates Area Civic Association (BACA) meeting last night, a representative from Councilman McDuffie's (??) office said DGS had no plans for the building. The BACA president mentioned that the building, which charter schools have first dibs on, is so far gone that it would cost too much for a charter school to try to renovate it and make it functional. Other residents at the meeting pointed out the roof has holes in it, that allow in rain, to water the plants that are growing through the boards.100_0400.JPG On a slightly hopeful note the BACA president mentioned that Munde Verde, the charter school fixing up the Cook school across the street, might have some interest in the Langston building when they desire to expand their campus. But if that ever happens, that will be many, many years into the future.
In the meantime, DGS cleans up the area around the property and keeps the windows and doors and does its version of 'stabilizing' the property. This doesn't exactly fit the neighborhood's idea of stabilizing the building because it looks like demolition through neglect. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

448 Q St NW- Senior Tax Deduction Vacant

UntitledI debated if this house at 448 Q St NW was vacant for years. The stairs to the front door are gone, which I always thought as strange. That doesn't mean that it could have been attached to 450 Q St (which is a huge property) or that the occupants enter from the rear, or that it is just poorly maintained. But then, construction work began on 450 Q St, and it was very clear that the two buildings are not connected with each other, except by party wall.
Looking to see if 448 Q was listed as vacant, I see that it is not. Instead it is " ** Currently receiving the Senior Citizen Homestead Deduction*. " The owner, Andres R. Alquinta's, contact information is a PO Box in Springfield, Virginia. Can you get the homestead deduction as an absentee? I searched the Social Security Death Index and did not find Mr. Alquinta. Looking at the property taxes paid since 2007, Mr. Alquinta's tax bill has been slowly going down and is in the $1,400 range for 2014.
The building, from the front, seems to be fine, except for that missing stair. The stair is no small issue (and I should have taken a picture), go to Google Street view for the address and you can see the door is about 2 feet off the ground.
Interesting.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

1216-1218 9th St NW- being worked on

1200 blk of 9th 1I want to update these properties but the problem is construction is slower than slow sometimes. There is construction going on at 1216-1218 9th St NW. This is improvement actually from the condemnation of the buildings reported in 2008.
There is not just work being done on the facade but construction being done on the rear as well.
According to the tax database 1212-1226 9th St NW is one of Jemal's properties (listed as JEMAL'S 9TH STREET GANG OF 3 LLC ). Douglas Jemal is a huge property owner and developer in Washington DC. It doesn't matter if a property is vacant and taxed at the vacant rate, Jemal will sit on a property and only develop it when he is good and ready to do so. He/ his company bought this back in 2008 and it seems permits and all signs of beginning work began back in 2013.
1200 blk of 9th 2Anyway, according to the Douglas Corporation's website this project is slated to become office and retail. I cannot find a delivery date.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mr. Squatter I salute you

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"International Squatters
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 Licensed under
Public domain via
Wikimedia Commons.



There was a house, actually a set of houses I was going to profile here on the blog as a vacant property. They were the type of vacant property that could look occupied if you weren’t looking closely enough, like 403 R St NW. Then I was told by a person in the know that someone who I was aware of, is squatting in one of the two townhomes. So it sort of isn’t vacant. Sort of.
I had known Mr. Squatter was a squatter, I just didn’t know where. When I was told about him, I had to admire his creativity and chutzpah. He has cable, I do not. And up until recently he also had free electricity and water. He hasn’t damaged the place where he stays and I imagine he keeps a pretty small footprint in order to go fairly unnoticed.
My first encounter with squatting and squatter’s rights was in London in the 90s, when I was looking for a place to stay. A magazine, Time Out London I guess, listed it as one of several options. Also I remember watching some television show where the character was claiming squatter’s rights. It is more a part of the culture there, more so than here. There are some subtle differences between a squatter and a homeless person breaking into a vacant property.
Since it is a range of townhomes, I looked at the taxes for all, and at some point in time each one was paying a higher, and I’ll guess vacant, tax bill. Currently none are charged at the higher vacant tax rate.
The neighborhood is becoming fairly hot, real estate wise, and I don’t know how much longer he’ll stay, particularly since the police had turned off his utilities. Yes, the police turned off the utilities, but did not evict him. Ponder that one for a moment. Anyway, when the absentee owner does finally decide to sell or make it profitable, Mr. Squatter knows of another property, vacant, in good condition, and stuck in the court system, where he can relocate. He’ll be fine, because he’s smart enough and knows how to play the game.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

1719 & 1721 4th St NW- Longest reno so no vacant rate

1721 Fourth st NWBack in 2008 both 1719 and 1721 4th St were vacant properties. Recently 1719 4th St NW was sold for $682,500 in May or April of this year. Looking at the photos on the Redfin page for the property, it has been improved since it and the neighboring 1721 were highlighted in 2008 on the InShaw blog.
There is some history with 1721 4th St NW. I forgot when Mr. Hosseinkhani bought the property, but I did fight his zoning variance back in 2009. The first drawing had a pitched (suburban looking) roof. The roof was changed to the mansard roof, which blends the popup a bit better. It worked out. The concern I, and a neighbor who at the time lived across the street, was what impact would this have on the row of Wardman houses. This was a real concern with a vacant lot that is currently sporting new construction. After that the owner has been working on the property very, very, very, very slowly. About 4-5 years slow.
In that time, as far as I can tell, it was not charged the vacant rate, rightly so. If work is being done, then it technically isn't vacant. The work was done in drips and drabs. Nothing, then a lot of activity, then nothing, and some activity. Permits are one way to hold off the vacant tax rate, but those have limits. But permits with intermittent work seems to work in holding it off. 1719 4th St NW paid the higher rate for one year and that was 2008.
1721 4th St NW has been divided into 2 condos and both are for sale.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

2200 32nd Place SE

Front of 2200 32 PL.jpgThis entry comes from a reader in who alerted me to a project which looks to be going nowhere. The property is 2200 32nd Pl, SE, in the Hillcrest neighborhood of DC.
It has several problems, one being it is not secure. There are unsecured windows and unsecured doors in the front and back. These unsecured entry points allow allow for the elements to enter, which in time can damage the structure.  This also allows for vagrants and vermin to enter. The other problem is there is no fence in the front or back to discourage vagrants or any other curious human being to enter.
Back 2200 32 PL SE.jpgProperties such as this are a blight on the neighborhood.
The owner is listed as a Richard Cunningham Sr and the mailing address for Mr. Cunningham is the vacant property. Mr. Cunningham obtained the property in August of 2012 for $300K, according to the DC Tax database. According to neighbors he got it in a tax sale. After gaining control of the property Mr. Cunningham (or his agents) began tearing out the interior, as if to renovate the property. There is a permit D1200811 issued in July of 2012 (???) for interior demo and there is a second permit issued January of this year B1403650 for interior renovation. The agent for the recent permit is Killette and Associates, which I could find as the agent for 2012 work proposed for a property in Le Droit Park and other places around DC. The phone number attached to the permit is a DC AT&T mobile number.
2200 32nd Place SE Gutted Interior.jpg
Hopefully the 2014 permit is not a ruse to attempt to thwart the vacant tax rate, because so far that isn't working. It is currently being taxed at the higher vacant rate. The city came out in 2013 and found the property to be vacant. According to the DC Tax database taxes were paid in April 2012 and in February 2014. Despite what was paid earlier this year, the owner owes the city $8741.40 in taxes, $897.25 for a special assessment, and $389.85 for water as of May 24th. What would work is doing some substantial work on the property.
I looked on the out of date Blockshopper for a Richard Cunningham and it is a fairly common name. Despite that I also looked at the Social Security Death Index and alas, too many Richie Cunninghams. Besides, the recent payment of taxes in 2014 hints that he might not be dead.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Two more off the list

I want to get rid of properties on the list no longer vacant so here are two more:
1006 M St NW, was featured here back in 2007. It was in the process of becoming something else, but it was vacant. Now it is 4 units, two are at least owner occupied.
1225 10th St NW is also occupied receiving the homestead deduction. It was last sold in 2011 for $815K.