Sunday, December 23, 2018

509 O Street- Rubble-Rubble

Cross posted with the InShaw blog

I'm hoping this was not a hallucination but in a cab, back from the doctor's I spotted a pile of rubble where 509 O Street NW stood. Upon seeing it I exclaimed, "Finally".
I would have investigated further, but I'm contagious and need to avoid people. And stay home and do this thing called resting. So I don't have an updated image of 509 O Street.

If you are newish, you may wonder, what's the big deal?

The problem with 509 O Street was that it was stuck as a vacant property for at least 20 years. That means it was vacant when the neighborhood started gentrifying. It was vacant when shells in the area cost half a million. It has been vacant now, still vacant. Now a vacant lot. It had the resistance to development like a Shiloh Baptist property. And even some Shiloh properties not on 9th, managed to get developed.

I have my opinions. And it was my opinion that the woman who owned the property was crazy. Whether bat-shyte crazy or crazy like a fox, I don't know. But the crazy was the only thing to explain why this property managed to stay vacant despite legal action from the lender, vacant rate taxes and a white hot real estate market.

Just for my records, the lot number for 509 O Street NW is a PITA to locate. In the tax assessment database searching for O St lots on Square 0479, all I could find was lot #0818. In the DC Atlas I found 3, lots 0044, 2001, & 2002. This makes me wonder if the taxes could be wiped out with a shell game of lose the lot number? Looking at the Recorder of Deeds paperwork, that's a confusing mess and introduced more lot numbers. Lot number 0813 for condo unit (yeah it was a 'condo') A. sigh.

So in summary, I seriously hope that pile of rubble was 509 O Street NW. Hopefully, it can move on. Maybe there is a serious developer behind this who will plop another million dollar condo on the spot with quartz countertops and Lutron light switches.
I'll probably cross post this with DC Vacant Properties.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

DC Audit- Report on DCRA and vacant buildings

This is a 2017 report Significant Improvements Needed in DCRA Management of Vacant and Blighted Property Program.This is out of the Office of the District of Columbia Auditor.

DCRA is currently experiencing turmoil as the head left and three officials were fired recently.

I have no comment as I might actually want a permit for something in the future, but I just wanted to put this out there.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Shiloh Properties Update

Shiloh maybe getting their act togetherMy usual path no longer takes me along 9th Street anymore. Trips to Giant stops right at 8th Street. I might wander over to 9th to see if Buttercream has any ho-hos. And so the search for specialty cake products brought me over to the 1500 block of 9th Street NW and I was surprised to see what looked to be work on Shiloh Baptist Church's long vacant properties.

This might be old news to some, as I did notice another Shiloh property on the opposite side of the street appeared no longer vacant. And the poster celebrating Victory Village looks, old. When doing a Google search for Victory Village and Shiloh, I came across a 2010 CityPaper article about the project. That doesn't provide a lot of confidence. What does provide confidence is the scaffolding up along the sidewalk. And the fact that the block is a little less vacant than 10 years ago.

Shiloh maybe getting their act together Next to the National Park Service's Carter G. Woodson House, formerly owned by Shiloh were some 3 story high scaffolding with the banner of a contractor, Thomas Archer on it. That looks a bit more real, and this thing might actually happen. Maybe. Hopefully. Lord willing. I pray that in 5 years the 1500 block of 9th Street NW is as healthy as the 1500 block of 7th St NW. I hope that Shiloh will no longer be known as the church with all those run down vacant properties. I don't expect Shiloh to gain the real estate mojo of UHOP, that would be akin to expecting Keneau Reeves to out act Christian Bale.

This has been cross posted with the InShaw Blog.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Silent Summer

Notice in windowI have a confession. I've been getting very lax with this blog. There were a whole slew of comments dating back to 2017 that slipped my notice that I just published.
Parenthood has taken more of my mental energy than I could have imagined it could.
I have been taking pictures of vacant properties around Shaw and Bloomingdale however, they just never seemed to make it to the blog where they needed to be.
For that I apologize.
I'm sorry.

I would follow up with a promise to do better if I honestly thought I would actually do that. But I don't feel that I could in all honesty say that. So let's see what happens if I can manage to get a little bit more sleep and a bit more organized.

Monday, July 16, 2018

210 P Street NW- Back to the land of the living

I'll make this quick. I wrote about this property back in 2016.
210 P St NW 2016It was as you see it, a vacant DC rowhouse.
Now it is back in the land of the living, and for sale, with lots and lots of space. It has been broken up into 4 units and the 1st unit is, rounded up a million dollars.
I reviewed the open house on my other blog and you can see my opinions of it. I've been through a few million dollar Truxton Circle houses and condos. Unfortunately, it doesn't hit the million dollar mark with features, but has million dollar space.
210 P St NW Open HouseIf you take a look at the image on the right, it looks like the developers kept the turret (yay!) and used the space to the side to expand to the property line on the other side and ate the house next door to make a huge building. But not as huge as the monstrosity a few doors down. 

509 O Street - To be razed, hopefully

So I was happy to see this in my Twitter feed.

It is about 509 O Street NW which I have blogged about before.  I'll believe it when I see it. This property has been tied up with all sorts of complications for years, going back to 2012.

Monday, June 4, 2018

218 S St NW gets a hardship exemption

Hat tip to Scott Roberts for pointing out Helder Gil's tweet

Scott has an image of the permit-

Saturday, June 2, 2018

142 Q Street NW

So I was recently told of this house.
I'm not going to do a deep investigation of this, because apparently the house has been vacant for 8+ years. It's not a problem for the neighbors, right now.
It appears that it was bought in 1987 or 1988 by 142 Q St NW Inc... might have been before LLCs were a thing, for what looks to be $80,000. And it looks, because I'm scanning, not really reading the documents, like it was bought at auction. So it has been owned by the owners for a very long time. The owners, are located in Plymouth, NC.

Looking at the tax database, this property is not charged at the Class 3 - Vacant rate. Another quick scan of the documents and maybe there is some legal problem as there are trustees attached to it.... I dunno. Going back to 2005 it looks like they've been charged the normal rate for this multi unit (2 units as far as I can tell) semi-detached townhouse.

From the street it just looks like a duplex that is a tad shabby.
There is another house on the block that looks more vacant than this one. I may do it next.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

121 16th St NE

This is a reader submission.

I am sorry I don't have any photos. I was going to hop into an uber to go over and snap some pix after my spouse got home to take care of our kid, but then the sky opened up, and I said heck no. Didn't help that my husband showed up late, due to the crazy rain. So, no photos. It would be nice if the reader, who contacted me via the comments sent me some photos or a link to photos at mari at inshaw punt com.


This property at 121 16th St NE (Square 1083, lot 40) is owned by a developer, Cameron Properties of DC Inc. It was purchased, according to the DC tax office, in February 2016 for $433K. Now the DC tax database has a new term I haven't seen before to describe the sale, " SPECULATIVE". Huh.

Anyway, the tax office has the 003 code, so it should be taxed as vacant. It must be a new code because the tax payments in the past two years have been ridiculously low. The current tax bill demands payment of $30,614.04. And that's all the city can do, besides stick a yellow sticker of shame on it.

In the message I received, a reader wrote: " It's owned by Jerry Jewell of Madison Properties and Cameron Properties. He has 3 stop work orders and 3 vacant property tags on the building. No one has been there since November 2017 and he left the property gutted and exposed all winter." I sympathize. It is no fun living next to an active construction zone and it is no fun living next to a project that is at a standstill. It is like living in Limbo.

Looking at the permits, there were several permits applied and approved and canceled. Demo permit #D1600695 was accepted 6/21/2016 and a permit was issued on the 28th for interior and exterior demolition. Bump out maybe? Next was permit #B1613231 Alteration and Repair Permit accepted 9/16/2016. That was for a pop up to add a third floor. That application was cancelled, I'm guessing extended? It was replaced with #B1700461 Addition Alteration Repair Permit accepted 10/13/2016, same thing. Next, was D1700594 Demolition Permit, accepted 6/22/2017.  This one had a different contact person, David Edge, when previously it was Cameron Properties. The description for this permit was "First extension to existing permit number D1600695 to expire 12/28/17. Demolition of Interior and some exterior walls." The last permit, so far, is permit #B1713629 for Alteration and Repair, accepted 9/18/2017, with contact person Marquiz Smith. The description reads, "INTERIOR ALTERATION AND REPAIR OF HOUSE AND EXISTING ADDITION INCLUDING MECHANICAL, ELECTRICAL, STRUCTURAL, AND PLUMBING. CONVERT EXISTING STORAGE ROOM IN BASEMENT INTO A BEDROOM WITH NEW ENTRY DOOR AND WINDOWS." A lot of things for review, plumbing, electrical, etc were approved in September and October 2017. It hasn't been a full year yet, so things could still happen. Maybe the developer ran out of money? Who knows?

The property is in ANC 6A08, so the SMD ANC for that is Calvin Ward cward6a08
Being in Ward 6 the City Councilperson is Charles Allen (202)-724-8072
 Contact them or their office so this problem property is on their radar.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

1715 4th St NW- Looks vacant but isn't

1700 bulk of 4th St NWIt was not the scaffolding that has been up since 2016 (looked at Google Street view for October 2016) that made me question the occupancy of 1715 4th St NW. Nor is it the torn plastic in the windows. It was the hole in the roof that I spotted. Too bad the owner didn't finish whatever exterior repairs she was planning in 2016 or early 2017, 'cause that block, the whole block, is now a Historic Landmark. Yeah, that kinda sucks. Well blame the developer several doors down who threatened to tear a structure down if they weren't approved for an ugly pop up.

Normally when I look in the DC Property tax database and see a Senior Citizen Homestead Deduction, and a house that is in some disrepair, I think, the person is a) dead or b) in a nursing home. The owner had an uncommon name so I plugged it into Google. No, the owner is very much alive and active. She's got an active Twitter page. Actually, she's a notable activist. I've never spoken to her but I've seen her around the neighborhood and she is quite spry.
 I'm guessing she has better things to do than repairing stuff. But that turret roof, really needs to get fixed.

Popup on 4thI started writing this prior to seeing who the owner was, but this gave me an opportunity to point out the historic landmarking. If only, if only, the developers of 319 R St NW had taken the example of the house 1721 4th St NW, a few doors down, we might not have had this landmarking mess.The third floor is a pop up. It looks great, and when that was negotiated, I'd hoped that it would provide an example to others on the block, should they decide to pop up one more floor. But that chance is gone. The developer at 319 R St NW played chicken and we all lost.

Okay, I'll get back to vacant properties....

Friday, April 13, 2018

234 Florida Ave NW- 1/2 occupied

So there is a commercial property that a landlord is holding on to and seems to have little interest in actually having a commercial tenant. That place is 234 Florida Ave NW, in Truxton Circle. I've reviewed it before, and today I'm taking it off the list, even though there still isn't a tenant in the commercial space.


Kitty in the upstairs window.

Across the street from 234 FL Ave on 3rd St NW is a lovely establishment called ANXO. It was a warm day, and I was in the mood to sit out on the patio with my infant. While I was there I observed the landlord with a gentleman. They may have just reviewed the space. Then my eyes gazed upward to the upstairs, where there was a black and white cat doing what cats do. That looks occupied enough for me.

As far as I know he could be Airbnb'ing the place as a unique space, with cat. I've seen that kind of ad when we were staying in San Francisco. We could have stayed at this gal's Mission District studio apartment but we'd have to take care of her cats during our stay. I support Airbnb, I've used that platform as a guest and as a host, but mainly as a guest.

However, I digress.

It is unclear to me how the vacant thing works with commercial properties. And even more unclear as to how occupied a building needs to be. I'll have to stay beyond Happy Hour to see if the lights come on and there is more than a cat living upstairs.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Langston- A failure of DC Govenment

I'm cross posting this with the InShaw blog.
There is no point to using an updated photograph of the Langston School. It was rotting away 10 years ago when the picture was taken in 2007, it is still rotting away now and the way things are going, it may be another 10 years before the city actually brings this property back to the land of the living and legit.
This property is a vacant school in the DC government inventory. It was a school from 1902 til the mid-1990s. In 1997 it was a homeless shelter. By the time I moved here in the 00s, it was a vacant husk and only a homeless shelter when the homeless and others broke in. In 2013 it got on the National Register for Historic Places, so there is that. Around 2012 Langston was offered to charters, who have 1st dibs, and nobody wanted it. No charter wants it because it is an unmaintained structure with a rotted roof that is in need of a serious rehab work. Even Mundo Verde Charter School, across the street, which took over the still functioning Cook School building and built an addition, hasn't seriously pursued it. Langston is too far gone as a building to be of any use to a school.
Another complication is in the Slater School, another building that shares a playground with Langston. It is A.R.E. ARE is a social service organization and a daycare and it looks like they are also getting in on the Pre-K thing too. Slater is a poorly maintained building, but the tenant ARE holds on tight to its location. I strongly suspect ARE has powerful friends that are protecting ARE to the detriment of the Langston building. I suspect this because for at least a decade now, when residents bring up the nuisance property that is Langston to city councilmen or the council staff or city staff who show up to the local meetings, they seem to have no idea it exists and fail to get back to residents with a satisfactory answer.
The civic association for the area BACA, has recently formed a committee to try to figure out what could be done with Langston.
This is DC Government property. It is the Government of the District of Columbia's responsibility. Any demolition by neglect would be purely the fault of the local government. The DC government has failed the residents of the unit blocks of P and Bates.  But then again, the DC government is a crappy property manager.
Previous blog post about Langston-
Langston School Registration form-
Ward 5 Councilman Kenyon McDuffie- and

Friday, February 23, 2018

46 R Street NW

About a week ago when the cold cold winter gave way to one glorious day of 70 degree weather, I took a walkabout with my son and noticed a yellow vacant sticker for 46 R Street Northwest in Bloomingdale. I also noticed a bunch of fliers and mail piling up in the storm door. Curious, I decided to look into it and I have some guesses.

The listed owner is Mavilla Bradley who is receiving the Senior Citizen Homestead Deduction and has mail delivered to a PO Box. As soon as I see that I wonder if the person is dead. I did a quick search and did not see anything saying she (I'm going with she, I could be wrong) was dead. But a Google search brought up something saying she was 95 years old. That same site also claimed that her aliases are " Odessa Cauthorn, Mavilla O Docks, Maville O Biggers, Bradley Havilla, Bradley Mavilla, Odessa M Bradley, Odessa Bradley cauthorne, Mailla Bradley, Maville O Grantt, Maville O Gantt, Maville O Docks, Mavilla O Bradley, Maville O Cauthorne, Maville O Bradley".  This will come in handy when trying to figure out when the family or the person came to possess the property.

As far as taxes go, Ms. Bradley seems to have been paying the senior discounted rate from as far back as 2004 up until 2016. In 2017 the rate jumped up to look like what a non-senior citizen pays. The vacant tax rate has not kicked in yet. She might be in a nursing home, if she is still alive.

As far back as 1985 there is a Odessa B Cauthorne who with Hugh Cauthorne bought the house.  In 1990 it appears Catherine Odessa Bradley took out a $20K loan to rehab 46R Street. I don't know if this is the same person or a relative as Mavilla Bradley. Mavilla Bradley appears in 1998 in the land records settling a mechanic's lien, and in 2000 became owner. Refer back to the name salad of aliases... yeah.

No records of permits.
So I'm sticking with my theory that there is a nursing home in this story.

As people get older these lovely two and three story townhomes with narrow or steep stairs are not good or practical for aged bodies. There is a romance of aging and dying in one's home. Sometimes it can be done, but other times, various ailments from thinning bones, arthritic hips and knees, swelling legs, and whatever side effects from the cocktail of meds prescribed by dozen of doctors who seem unaware of each other's tinkering, make that impossible.

Hopefully the owner has family who will take control of the situation. Maybe they can rent out the house to provide income to offset medical expenses. Or sell and be done with it. In the meantime that door needs to be cleaned out.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

1316 8th St NW- Still vacant

In December I noticed this FINALLY got a vacant property sticker.
About a year or two ago I had run into Alex P who said the owner was going to do something. Well, that was wishful thinking.
This has been vacant a long long time.
It's 2018 and it is still vacant.
A look at the DC Property Tax database shows, who look to be regular non-resident taxes, not the light a fire under yer butt vacant tax rate. The database doesn't give a date when the listed owner, Martin E. Hardy, obtained ownership. From other searches it appears he bought it for $425,500 in 2009. 
Maybe the problem is this address seems to be under two different lot numbers. I gather the old lot number is 0070, the new is 0830.
Anyway, it is 2018. The last permit I can find using DCRA's website....[grumble], was issued in 2014. It is to repair the earthquake damaged walls and change from a single family to multifamily. There were some permits prior to that, but my memory of visually inspecting from the sidewalk for several years this house, I haven't seen any changes. It looks the same since 2014 when I blogged about it earlier.
What's happening around it? Well Scripture Cathedral is gone and there is a hole in its place where some fancy schamancy condos/apartments for hipsters will be built.
Let's see if the city gets around to charging Mr. Hardy the proper tax rate because he's had 9 years to do whatever the heck he was going to do with this.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

DC Auctioning Off a Bunch of DC govt owned property

Big ole hat tip to Scott Roberts of the Bloomingdale Blog regarding this big ole auction.

As far as I can tell this is totally legit. I've been to an Alex Cooper auction in Baltimore. It was a great house but just not on the block that would have made sense for me. As I remember no one bid on it, I don't believe that will be the case with DC properties, even the vacant lots.
It is an on-line auction which starts on January 18th and ends 1pm on the 23rd, and these are vacant lots, unfinished properties, multi and single family properties in NW, NE, and SE DC.

These are not like the old $1 auctions back in the Barry years. No, the deposit for almost all of them is $5,000 and the starting bid is $20K. It'll bet that everything west of the river will go for several times the opening bid, possibly around $100K at the least, even for lots.

I think this is a wonderful thing. The problem with properties that sit in the government's inventory is that they sit. And sit. And sit...... and...... sit. Right now the iron, or the DC real estate market is hot. There could come a time when it was like the 90s and you couldn't give away houses (crack, murder capitol, nightly gun fire and a high risk of getting beat up walking home, good times), so now is as good as anytime.

The ones that aren't vacant lots need a good contractor. There are strings. Many mention "Sold Subject to Covenants: The properties in this auction are being sold subject to an affordable housing covenant as well as a construction covenant. Failure to abide by these terms will result in the forfeiture of your deposit before closing or potentially the property itself once you have taken title. Please review the documents section for the full terms." So, you just can't buy it and sit on it and I'm not sure what the affordable housing thing is. If I were so inclined, I would want a property for my own personal use.

Hopefully, this will bring several properties back into use.