Councilmember Jim Graham Responds To Concerns Over Building Security at 14th and W


This is of course the location of the recent building fire that closed down so many streets the other day. Councilmember Graham responded to concerns about the building security in an email:

I share your concern about safety and security in and around the Perseus YMCA/housing development project. This is an especially important project for the revitalized 14th street corridor in Ward 1. The project will redevelop the historic Anthony Bowen YMCA, creating a new 45,000 square foot facility, including a 25-meter pool, gym, day care facilities, and community meeting space. The project will include 231 units of rental housing, of which 18 will be affordable units at 60% or less of the area median income, 12,200 square feet of ground level retail, and 170 below grade parking spaces.

On December 16 I sponsored an emergency bill to provide much-needed tax relief for the Perseus YMCA development. The emergency the Council adopted provides a real property tax freeze for the next ten years, with a ramp-up to full taxation over the following ten years. This law also provides immediate sales tax relief on construction materials for the project.

Perseus purchased the 14th street townhouses almost one year ago. Since then, Perseus Reality, through Clark Construction, has invested thousands of dollars to keep the property secure. I am told that the recent fire at the project was allegedly started by a homeless person with an outstanding arrest warrant for starting fires at vacant properties. Since the fire, the property has been secured.

Over the next few months, my colleagues and I are committed to securing funds to pay for this tax relief. In the meantime, I am assured by Perseus that they “will continue to be vigilant about propert[y] security, appearance and cleanliness prior to construction.” My office will also remain vigilant.

After the jump check out a timeline of security measures taken provided by John Wood Bolton, Jr., Executive Vice President & Principal, Perseus Realty, LLC.

14th Street townhouses, site security

1/31/08 Settlement date for property purchase.

2/1/08 Met with seller at site to receive townhouse door keys and confirmed that all door locks were operational.

2/7/08 Long Fence Company installed 390 lineal feet of modular chain-link fencing. This fencing completely encircled the five townhouses, starting at the southwest corner of the north office building, and continuing counter-clockwise until the fencing reached the southeast corner of the north office building. Total fencing costs will approach $5,000.

2/1/08 – 5/20/08 Numerous site visits for design purposes found the buildings secure.

5/20/08 During an onsite meeting on 5/20/08, several door locks were observed to be damaged and difficult to operate, so Clark was tasked with installing surface mounted hasps and padlocks immediately. Clark directed Aceco to install hasps with padlocks on all doors for both increased security and convenience of one key for all units. Total costs are approximately $1,000.

5/28/08 Clark made extra copies of padlock keys for distribution.

5/20/08 – Nov 08 Numerous site visits for design and bidding purposes found the buildings secure.

Nov.08 During the month of November, Clark and their subcontractor were onsite most days excavating 14th Street sidewalk for removal of townhouse water and sewer services.

11/26/08 Clark alerted us to a townhouse break-in the afternoon before Thanksgiving Day, and temporarily secured the openings for the holiday weekend. Total costs are approximately $500.

12/1/08 Started Clark on winter boarding-up of all doors and windows. This scope of work included securing all doors and windows with wood framing and plywood because access for design and bidding purposes was no longer necessary. The cost for this work was $4,000.

1/5/09 Mike Terwilliger was onsite to inspect the condition of the signage banners following the long holiday weekend. One door (2203 14th) was found to have it’s plywood removed, otherwise all doors were securely closed with plywood. Clark was notified same day.

1/6/09 A Clark representative was onsite to inspect the 14th Street sidewalk area, and call us to advise that the fire department was responding to a fire in one of the townhouses. Mike Terwilliger went to the property and met with the following City personnel before speaking with the Fire Department personnel: Police Officer Travia Kyle Deborah Thomas, ANC Chairwoman Yaiza Garabito-Burrell, Mayor’s Office, Ward 1 – Outreach & Services Specialist

Police Officer Travia Kyle noted that MPD was looking for a homeless person with an outstanding arrest warrant for starting fires in vacant buildings, with one incident near the View14 project occurring as recently as last week.

16 Comment

  • Ah the standard DC gov’t form letter. The essential parts:

    1) “I share your concern about safety and security” establishes commiseration and camaraderie.

    2) “On December 16 I sponsored an emergency bill” indicates paper has been pushed to address your concern.

    3) “Perseus purchased the 14th street townhouses” lays the blame on Perseus, though the arsonist is a repeat offender who wouldn’t be wandering the streets in most civilized cities.

    4) “my colleagues and I are committed to securing funds” makes vague promises of some future improvement.

    By the time you realize you’ve been bamboozled, you’re probably concerned about something else. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

  • Vonstallin

    Dammit….Uncle Pookie was that you?

  • Do people really take that response seriously?

  • I remember a few pictures from the “ground breaking” for this new development. From Graham’s statement, I couldn’t determine if they halted demolition until he can secure tax breaks for the development?

    If that is the case, until tax breaks can be secured, Perseus (the developer) will just sit on the property and do nothing with it?

  • why exactly are tax breaks “much needed” in the still-booming 14th and U area?

    and how much did Perseus contribute to Mr. Graham’s campaign?

  • That area is completely unsecured. Not even close. The fence is knocked down about 1/3 of the time. The number of folks hanging out loitering (outside of the fast food joint and the supermarkado) spiked after the buildings were all abandoned. They need a security person there all the time. The fence and plywood barriers are clearly not enough.

  • That man cannot write an email where he doesn’t take credit for something. It really is stunning…”I did this” “I did that”

  • BTW “Eric in Ledroit” hit it correctly when he inquired as to how much the developer has paid into the Grahamstander’s campaign fund…or his “exploratory fund” that he set up a couple of years ago when he was thinking about running at large and didn’t. Exploratory money falls under much different guidelines than regular campagin money. The Grahamstander’s biggest contributors are developers and ABC establishments (and all the LLC’s that they can come up with avoid the donation maximum).

  • Jim Graham has been very upfront on peoples concerns; for Metro related issues he’s on the Metro board; for local issues, Ward One; for water bills, he’s on the board at WSSC/WASA.
    He serves the DC metroplolitan area well.

  • @ Anonymous 1:37: Hi Jim Graham!

  • Nawww, that’s John De Taeye

  • Right, on the Metro Board, but doesn’t take Metro, drives everywhere, even to Metro Board meetings.
    Ward One, the issues that get him re-elected
    WSSC/WASA, um, what does he do there exactly?

    I think Anon 1:37 meant to say that he “DC serves Jim Graham well”

    Maybe he had a fire recruit type that response up for him, another recruit folded the letter, another recruit licked the envelope, and another mailed it for him.
    But don’t worry, the DC tax payer made sure the recruits were paid for their service. . .

  • People agree to disagree on Jim Graham, that’s OK, somewhat amusing, that’s what makes it more interesting, more for a greater good when people can disagree in lieu of the stifling “go with the flow” as only time will tell whether Jim has been responsive with words backed with deeds or not.
    This hopefully will lead to compromise.

  • Sad to see that someone thinks that the unfortunate state of a city and the self-serving nature of it’s “leaders” is “amusing” to somone.

  • really, does anyone really believe that “time will tell” on this issue?

    Graham’s statement, unlike some things he’s done for me and my area, is completely toothless.

    The response is crap, total crap. It’s not a believable response.

    I’m no Graham-hater, I’ve voted for him and donated money, but this really is a crappy non-response. He doesn’t get housing and building-related work done.

    See how nothing has happened with the MT Pleasant building destroyed in last year’s fire- it’s a dangerous shell that still blocks the sidewalk. Graham has promised action, but whatever he’s trying is not working. He’s just not a credible voice on these kinds of issues and if he needs to assign someone else on his staff to work this, he should, because whoever he has working on it is incompetent. No resident should accept that toothless statement above without chuckling.

    As the joke goes, if it was a nightclub with a stabbing, Graham would have fixed it by now.

    I named John DeTaeye above, but I can name lots of names of people on Graham’s team who worked with me before.

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