Wednesday, December 31, 2014

End of 2014- A few Happy Endings

As the year comes to a close I would like to remark on a few properties that have moved from the vacant list to the occupied and soon-to-be- occupied list.

Back in January 2014 I wrote about 310 P St NW and before that in 2013. This year the property has been fixed up and brought back to the land of the living. In November it sold for $849,000. What is wonderful about this is that there are no longer any obviously vacant homes on the 300 block of P Street NW. That stretch is complete. It is whole.

403 R St NW
403 R St NW
Nearby at 403 R St NW, it too was sold in November. It was a bit of a shell. A long term shell that didn't look that bad by the person driving by. It had no mailbox on it, so no mail piling up. There was no grass in the front yard, the windows had drapes and the front was kept tidy. What a passerby never saw was the hole in the roof, or the damage it was causing for the home attached to it. This property got a write up in May 2014. At this moment there are workmen in the house and fixing the property up. The brick has been recently repointed, something I did not know it needed. As one can see from this old photo, the neat appearance hid the faults quite well.

It is difficult to say what is up with 1617 New Jersey Ave NW, so it will remain on the list until work is done. This property could see a happy ending in 2015. The property was sold in October and there is a permit for work. Unfortunately this house has a history of work being done, and work torn out of it.

Lastly, I'm going to remove 4334 Klingle Street, NW from the list. Though it had Tyvek in May 2014 instead of the black tar paper it had in 2008, it was sold in 2013 and is now taxed at the residential rate. Looking at the tax payments since 2010, there was a period of tens of thousands of dollars paid and now the current amount seems sort of in line with the neighborhood. It's a lot, but them again the house is assessed at being worth about $926K.

There are still vacant properties in the District. Some are privately owned by individuals, some owned by the city, some owned by LLCs and other deep pocketed groups. In the case of residential buildings, those places don't need to be vacant. There is a huge demand for housing in the District, more so in NW DC. There is a need for affordable housing, so the shells that stand, could stand to be rehabbed by motivated people for properties to house people.

Happy New Year. Happy 2015.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Vacant in other places

A reader passed along two site that may be of interest to other readers of this blog (if I have readers... sometimes I'm not sure...). They are sites for Baltimore and Philadelphia, other northeastern urban areas with vacant property problems.

First is from Open Baltimore, their map of vacant properties in the city of Baltimore. That map is based on a table of over 16,000 vacant properties. I love how it is a .gov site and that the city is putting the information out there so citizens and others can view it and make decisions. I just wish the table had a notice date so one can see how long or how new a property has been vacant. The site says the data is refreshed every two months or as needed, so it is hard to judge how up to date it is. Another thing I found was I cross checked with a real estate site and found obviously vacant houses for sale and looked at the Open Baltimore site and found close addresses which made me wonder if the Open Baltimore data was off by one house.

Second is for city owned vacant Philadelphia properties. Sigh. I wish DC had something similar, so DC, it's politicians and citizens could see clearly on a map. The FAQ for the site provides some insight on what the city's goals are and that clarity probably helps make this politically feasible. For one resident homeowners whose primary residence is on the block can buy an adjacent city lot (make the neighbors happy). There are also clear looking steps for developers, small and large. Lower down the list are options for folks who want to lease city property for urban farming or community gardening.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

11th and K St NW- Vacant for over 20 years

This building has been vacant for over 20 years. How do I know this? Back in the 90s when I was going to grad school in New England, some friends and I came to DC for winter break. I stayed with my aunt in Maryland and they stayed at the Youth Hostel nearby. There are two vacant buildings in this photo though one is semi-being used as a billboard for the new iPhone 6.
1015 K Street (0342 0053) and 1001 11th St NW (0342 806) are listed in the tax database as belonging to " JEMAL'S BULLDOG LLC". Seriously Jemal? You're naming projects after pets? Is this project a dog? Anyway, as a Jemal Douglas building they may sit for another 20+ years.
It is taxed at the commercial rate since they are commercial buildings. Though vacant forever, tax records say the parcels came into the Jemal Empire in 2003 and 2005. They are next door to parcels 004 and 005, 1009 and 1011 K Streets NW, also listed under Jemal's Bulldog LLC.
Once seeing the name Jemal it is pretty much pointless to see if it is being taxed at the vacant rate, because it isn't and it doesn't matter, because Douglas Development only develops when they darn well feel like it and no increased taxes will make them budge.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The city's vacant properties in Anacostia

The Washington City Paper's Aaron Wiener has written an article "Is the City to Blame for Anacostia's Vacant Properties?" about some of the District government's vacant (and probably blighted) properties an historic SE DC neighborhood. Art and trash and government vacant properties don't mix.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Vacant lot at FL and Q has a Twitter hashtag

Vacant Q St 4In my day we called them pound signs. The Bates Area Civic Association blog reported about the hashtag, regarding the September 8th meeting where two developers gave presentations regarding the vacant government owned property at Florida Ave and Q St NW. The hastag is #FlaQNW.

One of the developers has a email, ( but no website. The other developer was a bit more old school and had big posters of what they hoped to do on the site.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Vacant Property not Unclaimed Property

4 bills and changeLooking at the stats for this website, it appears I get a few people looking for unclaimed or abandoned property, which is not what this site is about. This site is about vacant buildings and land.
If you are looking for unclaimed property go to
Unclaimed property may include: wages, bank accounts, money orders, traveler checks, CDs, overpayments, deposits, life insurance payouts, and stocks and dividends and the like. The District of Columbia's CFO's site has a database (love open government) where one may search to see if they have any unclaimed property. If you got something in the mail from someone saying you or a family member has unclaimed property, don't waste a dime paying them. Get it yourself. Just go to the website, mail in the form, and if you are the rightful recipient, you will get it back for free.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Florida and Q (Sq 0615, lots 75, 149, 152, etc) NW

Vacant Q St 4This is old news, but the city is soliciting offers for several parcels of property owned by the District of Columbia, with the goal of making them into something useful. This includes the lots at Q and Florida Avenues NW, which is across the street from Joe Mamo's lot.
There was a hope to turn this sunny lot into a community garden, but the tide in the city seems to be turning away from green spaces to mixed use development.
Since the property is currently owned by the city, it pays no taxes, and as with the city, it takes a while for things to eventually get developed. Thankfully, it is not a school.
A quick look at the solicitation it appears the city wants a developer-buyer to create a mixed income and mixed use development, with the residential units being 51% affordable (residents at 80% AMI). Luckily, the city defines AMI (Area Median Income) with 1 person household earning $59,920, a 2 person household at $68,480, a 3 person household $77,040, 4 person $85,600 and so forth. The city wants it to be a LEED building, and there are other requirements that deal with the city.
According to the Department of Housing and Community Development developers have until October (10th or 24th) to submit proposal applications.

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, they're 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.

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

"International Squatters
 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.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Bunch of occupied properties that were once vacant

These are all properties reported on the DC Vacant Properties blog that are now all occupied. I just want to take them off the list.

 1227 1st St NW- It was featured on the InShaw blog on December 20, 2007. Where it was reported that an owner acquired the property in 2007 for an unknown amount. Work was done in 2009 resulting in a stop work order or two. This was prior to the current owner who is receiving a homestead deduction, buying the property that same year. There is no record in the DC PIVS of a certificate of occupancy, though it appears occupied enough.

312 P St NW- This was also featured on the the InShaw blog in 2008 with the title "Crap House 1/2 Off". There was some minor drama about a private lender dying and the work couldn't be completed, blah, blah, blah. There were several permits issued for work late 2009 and in 2010, about the time when the current owner bought the property. It looks occupied.

219 P St NW- Is from a December 15th 2007 InShaw post. It was a mess, broken windows, and plywood doors. Now it is a occupied two unit residence. I guessed that from the young lady on the stairs on the phone. It was a nice evening to be out. When the 12/17/07 post was written the first permit was only a few months old, followed by a second permit for electrical work. There is no occupancy permit, not a big deal for the other P St house (which doesn't have one per PIVS) and the 1st St property, 'cause when it is your house and you're living in it forget the CofO dammit. But these are two units, rental units I gather from the owner living in Dun Loring. Just a little thing the owner may want to fix, this being a super tenant friendly (landlord hostile) city and all.

226 N St NW- The Mt. Vernon Square Neighborhood Association post for this is no longer, but it's 7/11/2008 title was "Hole for Sale." It is occupied. The permits are interesting. There are a few for 2003-2005, then three for February 2010. If I were to guess, work was done between 2003-2005, then undone afterwards, leaving a hole in the ground in 2008, work was done creating a new building in 2010, then sold as 2 condos in 2011. There is an old post on Greater Greater Washington with a before picture of 226 N St, showing it as a vacant lot surrounded by jersey walls.

508 M St NW- Occupied but odd tax thing

508 M St NWThere was a lot of back and forth on the 3D MPD listserv back in September 2007 about a shooting that had occurred near 508 M St NW. There is a photo of a bullet hole that pierced a window at the address.
Looking at the DC PIVS, the building was at one time condemned and had been vacant up until 2011. Between 2009-2011 there were permits issued. The DC Tax database for the address looks, weird. The entry for 0482 0071, 508 M St NW is in the name of International Group LLC, the owners mentioned back in 2007. They have not paid any taxes since 2009, but have been credited after that and currently have a negative balance. Maybe the unit was broken up into condos? It is several units as there are a few different electrical meters. however a look at the block reveals, no other 508 M Streets NW unit anything.
This is the DC Vacant Properties blog, not the DC Property Tax Watchdog blog, so the only thing I'm going to say is this is occupied.

438 N St NW- occupied

438-440 N St NWThe old link for 438 N St is no longer active. Walking by 438 N St NW, the place looks fine.
The property was last sold 2013 to an owner claiming the homestead deduction. According to the DC PIVS permits were issued in 2010 and 2011 for work done, which I'll gather was the work that took the property from vacant to occupied.
So moving on, nothing to see here folks.

Friday, May 16, 2014

925 5th St NW- vacant and charged

925 5th St NW.. but not taxed at the vacant rate. Probably doesn't matter much since it is $132,827.64 in arrears. Last year the owner Anthony Cheng, also known as Tony Cheng, owed $97,326.43 for the 2013 tax year. The same amount was taxed to the property for 2012. Mr. Cheng may have been a little too preoccupied with his indictment to pay much attention to this vacant piece of Mount Vernon Triangle property.
This property came to this blog's attention back in 2008, when a reader submitted a question, commenting that Mr. Cheng had removed the roof. From the street, it is hard to see a roof. And yes, this is just around the corner from where there was a recent roof collapse, but the buildings are not connected.
There were two recent permits issued, which maybe the last one is a reason for a lower 2014 tax rate. The first one, B1214203 issued 9/26/2012 was for "paint,repair door remove plywood from windows". The second, B1305270 issued 3/29/2013 was to "Brace facade wall to secure, alteration and repair."
Recently Mr. Cheng and his son plead guilty to the bribery charges. There may be some jail time and fines. At the end of the year it should all be over an done with, and the Chengs can get back to paying the property tax and ignoring the property.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

1256 New Jersey Avenue NW- Occupied

1256 NJ Ave NWThis is just a quickie post. Back on June 20, 2008 this building was a vacant building according to a page that is no longer on the site. I can't find the address on the DC tax website, but since it is occupied, it's not a biggie.
The property photographed was once an empty building, but not for very long. I have memories of seeing a guy come out from this building's vicinity to beat up another guy with a 2x4 in front of the firehouse across the street. I called 911, because I remember telling a dispatcher that a housing police cruiser showed up to break up the fight. Somewhere there is a fuzzy picture of this.
The building has gotten upscale since this event. 

1417 5th St NW- occupied

1417 5th St NWBack in 2007 blogger DaddyFiveOh posted "Buy Me", a look at the shell that was 1417 5th St NW.  It had been one of many problem properties in the area, but now it is occupied.
According to the DC Tax website, the property was bought in November 2007, by someone who lists an address several doors down. In early 2007 the house was on the market, as a shell, and it appears that there was a complete renovation. Looking at the old photo taken by DaddyFiveOh, the job done to bring the house back looks amazing.

Monday, May 12, 2014

420 Warner St NW- Occupied

420 Warner St NWThe list to the right of vacant properties is a little out dated. Some problem and vacant properties are now occupied and part of the positive neighborhood fabric. In 2007, back when the ANC Kevin Chappel had a website, one of the October posts was titled "Vacant and nuisance property on Warner". I can only gather that 420 Warner was once that vacant property.
It isn't vacant any longer. It was most recently sold a few years ago to its current owner and resident.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Vacant Property Response Form: The exemptions

If the city has determined your property to be vacant, and you disagree, you will need to fill out DCRA's Vacant Property Response Form (PDF).
Before we get to the exceptions, the part where one checks "YES, MY BUILDING IS VACANT and I certify that it meets the Vacant Building Maintenance Requirements in D.C. Code 42-3131.12. Please REGISTER MY BUILDING AD VACANT. I will be taxed at the Class 3 rate." And there is a registration fee of $250.00. $250 on top of the higher rate, seems to create a dis-incentive to quickly register property.
Anyway, there are two other options to agreeing a property is vacant. The first is checking the box "NO, MY BUILDING IS OCCUPIED" and two most recent water and any other utility bills. If the building is commercial then add a Certificate of Occupancy. The second box is "MY BUILDING IS EXEMPT" and there are 5 options.
The first option is for buildings under active construction. Instructions read as "List building permit number(s). Permit(s) must have been issued, renewed, or extended within 12 months of the required registration date." The issuing of a permit doesn't always mean work done, but it is a legitimate exemption. Problems arise when work starts, and stops, and starts and stops over a lengthy amount of time. This is frustrating for neighbors, and probably no fun for the developer either.
The second is, "THE OWNER IS ACTIVELY SEEKING TO SELL OR RENT THE BUILDING". This requires, according to the form, a "listing agreement with realty agent contact information AND MRIS or MLS electronic listing." There is nothing saying the price has to be reasonable.
The third is, "THE BUILDING IS THE SUBJECT OF A PROBATE PROCEEDING OF THE TITLE IS THE SUBJECT OF LITIGATION." This requires proof of ownership, and a copy of a Letter of Assignment and court documents showing the case is active. Probate and court cases can take time.
Fourth is, "THE BUILDING IS THE SUBJECT OF A PENDING APPLICATION BEFORE A D.C. DEVELOPMENT BOARD". This requires a copy of a filed application for a hearing with a particular board or commission. This is another process that can take time.
Lastly is, "I AM SEEKING A SPECIAL EXEMPTION FROM THE MAYOR". This requires documentation. I have no idea what this is, but just seeking it seems to be an option, regardless of getting it.
There is nothing on the form as to how long an exemption to the Class 3 rate may continue.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

403 R St NW- Still vacant

403 R403 R St NW is still vacant. It has nice drapes and no mail slot. The front is bricked over so there is little need for upkeep.
Back in 2008 I blogged about this house at the InShaw blog. It was in worse shape then. Now the windows have been repaired and it blends in a bit.
It is not taxed at the vacant rate and doesn't seem to have been taxed at a higher rate for years. It has been owned by Dorothy Farr of Seattle, WA since 2003.
UPDATE 6/16/14: I've been informed that part of the rear of this house has collapsed and is letting in the elements.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

919 L St NW- Is sooo vacant

919 L St NW 1This looks very vacant.
It's the lack of windows that's the tip off. This building is across the street from the newly opened Marriott Marquis hotel.
The DC Tax office does not have this listed as a vacant property on the assessment database, but it is paying some pretty high taxes regardless. In 2013 and 2012, $29,182.62 was paid each year in property taxes at the class 1 residential rate for a property assessed at $4,156,280.  The owners are listed as the Square 369 Hotel Associates LLC of Bethesda, MD.
A quick Google search of the the Sq. 369 Hotel Associates show that they also own other nearby properties. The semi-out of date Blockshopper shows the LLC owning 911 and 913 L St NW. Taking another look at the DC Tax Assessment page, searching on Square 0369 and L for the street, reveals connections to 915 and 929 L St NW, lots with no address number, 0369 0848 and 0369 0805, as well as 1100-1114 Shepherds Alley NW. None are listed as vacant, only one has a Class 3 exception. Several of the properties were bought in 2003. In 2007 Rob Goodspeed documented some of the properties' vacant status in a 9th Street Vacant properties survey.
There haven't been any recent (in the last year), permits for 919 L St NW. Other properties have had some permits for work relating to holding a construction trailer and other hotel construction whatnot have been issued.
Though the DC Tax database has some misspellings and leaves off the 'NW' on occasions, it doesn't seem to be too much of a leap to see that Marriott has some connection with the properties across the street from its shiny new hotel. The listed owner for 929 L St NW is "SQUARE 369 HOTEL ASSOCIATES LLC MERRIOTT INTERNATIONAL INC". So one could gather that at some point the owner will deal with the other side of the road to make its completed property more attractive.

UPDATE 10/21/2014- Short Articles About Long Meetings mentions that 911 L is historically protected.  The owner want to raze the building.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

460 Ridge St NW

460 Ridge St NWThere is not much to say about 460 Ridge St NW. It is owned by the DC government, I gather. It is a vacant lot. It has a sign and a fence. It is long and thin. It is not in the DC Tax office assessment database, as far as I can tell.
The sign hints it belongs to the DC Department of Housing and Community Development. Or maybe DHCD just puts signs up for properties like this.
I have noticed long vacant skinny lots like this are getting townhomes thrown on them in recent days. DC could turn it over to a developer, or turn it into an alley or make it a skinny community garden. With the grass growing, I gather there is enough light for such a thing.

Note- Apparently around November 26, 2007 there was a  house on this lot that collapsed. There is a Flickr photo of the damage here and here. A blogger Ninjamonkey posted something about the collapse. In 2012 developer Blue Sky Housing LLC applied to do something with the lot and the neighboring property (PDF).

Monday, May 5, 2014

1000 M St NW- 2014 update

1000 M St NW11000 M St NW gets a good number of hits for an old post and so I figured it might be occupied by now. Walking by on a Sunday afternoon, I'm not sure what it is. It could be a decently maintained vacant property, or poorly occupied. The Christmas wreath is still on the door and a fair amount of mail in the mail box. It is also being charged the vacant rate by the DC tax office. It currently owes $23,060.13. The property assessed value is a little over 1 million dollars.
The owner is listed as a M Angelidou with a Washington, DC P.O. Box. This is the same owner listed back when Ed wrote up the 2007 post on this vacant property. A quick check on the Social Security Death Index revealed nothing.
Checking DCRA's PIVS application, the property is in the Shaw Historic District, and there is a zoning overlay for the Downtown district. There have been several permits issued over the years. The last one was from 2012 (F1200419) for window/door grills.
It looks as if it could become occupied. Permits look as if there might have been electrical work, roofing and other work done. However, experience has shown that a permit filed, does not mean work done.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

1534-1536 9th St NW- Shiloh's Historically Vacant Property

Vacant Builds on 9th1534 9th St NW and 1536 9th St NW sit next to a few other vacant properties on the northern end of 9th St that do not belong to Shiloh Baptist Church, the Carter G. Woodson complex, owned by the National Park Service.
Although all the vacant 9th Street Shiloh properties sit in an historic district, there is nothing compelling the church to restore them other than the vacant property tax, which thus far has produced little.
Since 2005, the yearly taxes paid for the property at 1534 9th NW has ranged from $8,238.62 to $48,238.00, the higher amount being from 2009 like so many other Shiloh properties on 9th.  In total for the years 2005-2013, Shiloh Baptist Church has paid $156,203.58* in property taxes.
1536 9th St NW, like 1534, is listed as vacant. Payments from 2005 to 2013 range from $4,083.98 to $50,178.00. The lower amount was followed with a higher payment of $36,153.45 the next year. The total paid for those years is $164,049.32*. The 2005-2013 tax total for both properties is $320,252.90*.

*Taxes only calculated once.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

1617 New Jersey Ave NW- Still vacant

Rear 1617 NJ Ave NW
Rear of 1617 NJ Ave NW
1617 New Jersey Avenue NW is being sold, maybe. According to a mailer I received from some Sotheby's agents 1617 is "Cntg/Ko", which means it is in limbo. The sale is contingent on something. I do remember seeing a sign out front to have it sold but never seeing it listed on my favorite go to real estate website. The list price was $270,000.
Looking at Redfin's page for 1617 NJ Ave NW, it shows this property on and off the market. 2/26/10 it was listed and delisted 3/24/10. Listed 5/2/12 and delisted the same day. 5/14/12 it had a pending contract, and then delisted 6/22/13. Listed again on 3/12/14.
This listing and delisting has not recently held off the vacant tax rate. In 2010 the property got a huge tax credit of $21K and wound up paying the normal rate that year. Two large payments were made in 2008, hinting that it must have been taxed at the higher rate that year. 2009 saw normal residential tax payments and there were no payments in 2010. About $10K was paid in 2011, a little over $18K in 2012, and about $10K in 2013. The property as of 4/27/14 owes a little under $10K for this year so far.
Selling the property might have been difficult for the bank that supposedly foreclosed on owner Cory D. Chase, as the property is still in his name.

Monday, April 28, 2014

1526-1532 9TH ST NW- Shameful Shiloh

Shameful Shiloh Vacant Buildings
Shiloh Baptist Church, which sits at the corner of 9th and P Sts NW owns a number of vacant properties on the western side of the 1500 block of 9th St. NW. The church owns 1526, 1528, 1532, 1534, and 1536 9th St. NW. This post will just be about the buildings seen here in the photo, 1526-1532 9th St NW. 1534 and 1536 will be featured in a later posting.
1526 9th St NW, sits next to Shiloh's Family Life Center, which houses the church's cafeteria and other event spaces. It is currently taxed at the vacant rate for 2014. From 2005-2013 the church has paid between $8,513.34 and $50,191.00 a year on property taxes for lot  825 on square 365. The total taxes paid, according to the DC Office of Tax and Revenue from 2005 to 2013 is $158,794.52.
1528 9th St NW (0365 0824) is also listed as vacant and currently taxed as such. Between 2005 and 2013 it has paid from $9,408.30 in 2010 to $54,954.00 in 2009. Last year, 2013, the tax office records a payment of $20,098.00. For 2005-2013, about $175,768 in taxes were paid.
1530 9th St NW, the green building shown, is not vacant and is not owned by Shiloh Baptist. It is an active commercial enterprise and pays the commercial tax rate.
1532 9th Street NW is vacant and is owned by Shiloh. The property on lot 822, is currently taxed at the vacant rate and has a balance of $11,751.60 that has not been paid, according to the tax office's public database. Between 2005 and 2013, the lowest amount of taxes paid was $5,580.24 in 2008, and the highest was $65,329 in 2009.
The properties are being taxed and have been taxed at the appropriate rate (though 2009 seems a bit excessive). The main church building at 1500 9th Street, NW is exempt from property taxes as it serves the organization's primary non-profit purpose. The adjoining Family Life Center at 1510 9th St NW does pay some taxes, even though the building serves some church functions.  So the right buildings are taxed at the correct rates.
Unfortunately, the vacant buildings are not benign. Homeless men sleep and loiter in the entryways of the Family Life Center and the vacant buildings. Unkept rear yards harbor rats. Sadly the condition of the vacant properties have changed very little since I have lived in Shaw since 2000. Below please find posts from print media and local blogs about the problems with the Shiloh properties along the 1500 blk of 9th St NW.

2001- “Neighbors Label Church ‘Slumlord'” Washington Post April 12, 1990 (part on Renew Shaw 2007 post)
2001 Perennials- Who Cares About Vacant Properties? DC Watch
2007 Shiloh Properties Condemned- DCist
2007 Shiloh Properties Watch: Day 1- DCist
DCist articles on Shiloh Baptist
2007 Goodspeed Update- has map of properties
2007 1998 Grant to Shiloh for 1533 9th St, NW ReNew Shaw2007 Condemning a Church's Property- Washington Post
2009 Shiloh Baptist to Present Plans For Its Vacant Properties- Washington City Paper
2010 Washington Biz Journal "Evans withdraws Shiloh Bill" "Shiloh Baptist's promises earned proposed tax break" and article with same title.
2012 Why Shiloh Baptist Church Hangs On to Those Vacant Properties- Washington City Paper

2013 Worship, abandoned properties coexist, American Observer

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 -not vacant

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.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

1538 9th St NW

  by In Shaw
, a photo by In Shaw on Flickr.
For Black History Month I present 1538 9th Street NW, home of Carter G. Woodson, the father of Black History.
As you may notice this and the adjoining building are surrounded by a high chain linked fence for pedestrian safety. It has been like this for awhile. Years really. The historic home and adjoining property are owned by the National Park Service who have plans, but apparently no money to do anything. The plans have been around for years, so long so that original plans included another adjoining property the federal agency did not own and was bought by private citizens, who fixed it up and made it their residence. When the NPS dragged out the plans again to show that they had plans, the owners of the house that was part of the plan were alarmed.
UntitledRegardless of a plan or not, this and the next door property are vacant, and have been for years. Let's hope that this will not be featured in DC Vacant Properties' 2015 Black History Month profile.
See also Renew Shaw's 2007 post about 1538 9th St NW, and the National Park Service's failure to rehabilitate this property.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

310 P St NW

300 blk of P St NW by In Shaw
300 blk of P St NW, a photo by In Shaw on Flickr.
This is a blighted property.
It has been a blighted property for as long as I can remember. But notice the pop up on the left. It was a vacant shell at one point. Now it is a residence. I don't remember the story for the pop up on the left.
The story here is for Jan 2014 the owner Allison Bennett of Largo, MD owes $185,204.39 in real property taxes, a little less for sewer and trash. Blighted properties are charged $10 for every $100 of value. The land it sits on is valued at about $200K. Ms. Bennett came to the property in 2006. According to Redfin, she purchased it for $180K, according to the DC government, it was $380K.
I've blogged about this property before,  here (and the neighboring house here  and here) and not much has changed.

509 O St NW- Still Vacant, Still Falling Apart

509 O St NW by In Shaw
509 O St NW, a photo by In Shaw on Flickr.
There is a little less of the building since this photo was last taken. It is a study in how a building can slowly fall apart.
I pass by it often, at least once a week. It is still an eyesore that apparently no princes nor principalities can redeem.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

454 N St NW

454 N St NW by In Shaw
454 N St NW, a photo by In Shaw on Flickr.
Sometimes DC government can help with the problem. Sometimes DC government is the problem.
According to the DC tax database, the blighted property 454 N St NW, is owned by the District of Columbia, Suite 307. As you may hazard a guess, it pays no taxes so there is no point of having it taxed at the vacant rate.
The thing with these DC owned properties is eventually (10-20 years eventually) they do make their way back to the tax rolls as an occupied property, but not any time soon. In the meantime, neighboring properties suffer.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Follow-up: 1002 M St NW

This blog was started sometime back in 2007 by Ed. I inherited it in 2010 and so far have done very little since then. There are some links and posts regarding some properties that were blights and eyesores at one point in history, that are now a part of the fabric of the neighborhood. In the right column there are addresses that I'll take a quick look-see to discover if those properties have joined the ranks of the normal properties or remain blights of the street.

Today I looked at 1002 M St., NW. It was featured by Ed May 23, 2007. It was a Class 3 then later Class 1, vacant property in 2007. Today it is a set of 4 condo units with 3 of those owners receiving the homestead deduction. What this means is this former vacant property has become a home to about four households, who in addition to paying property tax add to the income tax rolls as well.

According to Redfin, the first unit was listed in July and sold in August 2012 for $529,999. Looking at the other units, they were sold either in July or September in 2012 between $449.9K and $630K. The building was converted to condos in 2011, which I'll guess the building was renovated in 2011-2012 and made available for sale.

This is what I hope can happen to many units featured here. That the vacant rate taxes or other incentives will get owners of vacant properties get inspired to make them occupied dwellings once again. So with this I remove "1002 M St, NW" from the column and add the tag 'occupied' to this address.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Not too keen on DC Council's "Senior Citizen Real Property Tax Relief Act of 2013"

Vacant house that was
receiving the
Senior Citizen
Homestead Deduction

Every so often I like to check up on a property in SE DC that was once owned by my late great-aunt in the tax roles. She died 2 years ago. Before she died, she was in a nursing home for years in Maryland. She had a will and though it has been 2 years now, the house is still the deceased's name, empty, and her homestead status reads: "** Currently receiving the Senior Citizen Homestead Deduction*." The yearly tax is equal to dinner at Marcel's for two.
Last year the District of Columbia introduced legislation B20-0318 Senior Citizen Real Property Tax Relief Act of 2013. On the 7th of this year it got it's first vote/reading. Though the city can afford the loss of tax revenue however, the city's record with the plain old Senior Citizen Homestead Deduction has been poor in practice. My great aunt's house is an example of this. To the best of my knowledge the house is vacant but not blighted. Unfortunately, I've encountered a blatantly vacant house receiving the Senior Citizen Homestead Deduction that was endangering the surrounding houses. My concern is without the tax, seniors will either move or die, leaving properties to fall into disrepair, and damaging the neighborhood. Yes, there is language about qualifying and alerting the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) about periods when the owner no longer qualifies, but that is too dependent on the owner, the estate and survivors, who have zero incentive to pay up and will have less incentive to repair properties. The law is great for co-operatives and possibly condos, horrible for single family homes and townhouses.
This blog's interest is in vacant properties that are blights and harm the neighborhood. This is well meaning legislation, however, because of my observations with enforcement (or lack thereof) with the homestead exemptions (senior and non-senior) I see problems.