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.