Dear PoP – An Article Featured A Building You Discussed a While Back


“PoP – wanted to bring to your attention this article in today’s Examiner.

A few months ago PoP featured this building and there was some discussion about it. I live down the street and Jim Graham called me earlier this week to tell me pretty much the same info that is in this article.”

Yup, we discussed this building located at 1483 Newton St, NW back in April. According to the Examiner:

“The District agreed to pay triple the assessed value for a dilapidated apartment building in Columbia Heights that the government plans to preserve as affordable housing, infuriating one D.C. leader who described the structure as little more than a shell.

But Neil Albert, D.C.’s deputy mayor for planning and economic development, put a temporary, last-second hold on the deal Tuesday after The Examiner raised questions about the price tag.

“We’re taking a closer look in the office to make sure that the price and the appraisal adds up, given the current market conditions,” said Sean Madigan, Albert’s spokesman.

The Department of Housing and Community Development struck a deal to pay $3.1 million for a vacant 32-unit building at 1483 Newton St. NW that was recently valued by the city’s tax office at nearly $1.1 million. Another appraisal, this one performed for DHCD, put the market value at roughly $2.9 million.”

Now I have a crazy opinion here. I think this building has been vacant and an eyesore for so long that, well, frankly, spend $3.1 million for it! I know, we shouldn’t waste our valuable taxpayer money. But you know what sometimes it worth it to just get the ball rolling. It sucks being taken advantage of but hell we lose money all the time (just think about the huge DC real estate tax scandal). And if I lived across the street from this building I’d be so tired of the stagnation. I know this is not going to be a popular opinion. Dang, this isn’t a very compelling argument. I haven’t even convinced myself. I’m just frustrated. I know the city shouldn’t throw money away and I’m glad they’re looking into the matter. But dang it would be nice to see this side of Newton fixed up. That’s all I’m saying.

20 Comment

  • IF the market value is $2.9m the city paying $3.1 to get it moving would not sound like a horribly terrible use of money (unless it would just end up staying as it is now but just owned by the city)…

  • Vonstallin

    Man, this building have potential. The current design infused with some of the latest hardware can make this a realy good building.
    What is “affordable housing” ???? I hope they dont mean Section 8.

    I know that sounds bad since I work at HUD 😛

    price wise? im not sure.
    1.1 million seems pretty low and if they are basing it on DC assesment of taxes, well DC tax assement (i can’t believe im saying this) if god awfully low. My taxes are close to 200k below my property vaule assesment.

    2.9 million for a 32 unit…I figure it will pay for itself down the road. I assume they will need to spend the same amount to renovate it also.

  • There’s an identical building next door that has already been renovated and looks really cool. I have no idea what the apartments inside are like, but the exterior is nice. I’ve always wondered what happened here: two (maybe three?) buildings obviously put up as a group, but allowed to diverge so drastically in condition.

  • Couldn’t the city just exercise its’ right of eminent domain and seize the building? (and provide just compensation, which I imagine would be the city’s assessment of its’ value) It’s been vacant for so long that I imagine an argument could made that it is a blight/potential danger to the neighborhood.

  • @vonstallin I said something similar on dcist about this thing. $1.1 mil is way low and everyone knows DC tax assessments are often way off. I couldn’t say if $3.1 mil is too high or not, having no idea how to judge commercial real estate values, but I don’t see the scandal that The Examiner thinks there is… I’m with POP. $3 mil doesn’t seem way out of the ballpark and no reason to throw a wrench in progress over some change.

  • you think they wasted money buying it? wait till they overpay a crappy contractor to “fix it up”

  • Vonstallin

    Jamie Says:
    January 8th, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    yea, I dont see the price problem when we have some SF houses not too too far away going for 1.2 million.

    This place must be deep as hell or have tiny rooms, because i cant imagine 32 units in it.

  • oh boy – you want the CITY to buy this property and fix it up? seriously? you must not live near any city-owned properties.

  • how about they enforce the punitive 10% property tax on vacant buildings until the owner sells to a qualified developer at a market-set price?

  • Vonstallin

    Oh if it was up to me, id rather them sell to a private contractor, but I was just sticking with what is actualy going on.

  • I DO live across the street, and frankly, I’d rather live with the eyesore than a DC-owned, DC-renovated, DC-run affordable housing unit. Call it a case of the devil you know being better than the devil you don’t.

  • Ah crap … this is just what we need. Subsidized or Section 8 housing on Newton St. Just an FYI…I was really looking for someone to come in and make that building beautiful again. It has so much potential…and I was talking private contractor, not DC government of DCHA. Section 8 = crime, loitering, and depressed housing values. Just what we need.

  • Affordable housing often means “workforce housing” for teachers, firemen, govt employees, etc. I don’t think this is supposed to be section 8 or low income housing, but rather housing for those that make a living wage but just can’t afford to buy in the city. DC will make these affordable for purchase by those that couldn’t otherwise buy a place in this area. If it was section 9, the reference to Fenty wanting to preserve 500 such units in the city wouldn’t make any sense.

  • I used to live in Mt. P (1996-2002) and walked by this building frequently and thoutght it was a travesty that while neighboring buildings were renovated, that this one sat fallow. I think paying them over the assissed value is allowing absentee owners to make a profit that they don’t deserve. Charge them the vacant property rate and wate until they’re forced to sell, or use emminent domane.

  • Vonstallin

    Chris in Eckington Says:
    January 8th, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    You want to see a travesty…take a walk to 1000 Quebec PL and look at the boarded up house.

    It’s been boarded up since 1987’ish… DC is being a dick about the taxes owed and will not let anyone buy it to fix unless the back taxes are paid up ontop of the selling price.

    From what I remember the taxes was in the 50k range about ten years ago. On a block that where houses can fetch 400k-mid 500k DC needs to let this one go.

    Its called the Rat House.

  • The Washington Times estimates that the final cost of Nationals Park is actually $693 million. That number has gone up from older estimates of $611 million. That’s $82 million more, for those who don’t do the maths. For that price, we could have just bought 24 of those buildings.

  • The irony of this is that the developer of the Allegro condos offered the owners of this building a significant amount for the property (not sure of the offer, but this was circa 2006) and couldn’t get a response from them. If the city wants the building, it should begin condemnation proceedings, which it should have done long ago. Bailing out the two idiots who own this piece of sh*t and only do anything to it when forced to by the govt is a slap in the face to taxpayers. There were lots of inquiries about buying this heap back in the real estate market, but I guess the owners thought they could do better. Now that they can’t, rather than letting them realize that they cooked their own goose, the city is going to bail them out. That is an outright slap in the face of the taxpayer — for those of us who’ve had to live next to the dump all these years now to get stuck with the bill for paying off the @$$holes who left their sh*t on the sidewalk in our neighborhood?? Incredible.

    Also, I still can’t think of anything worse for this property than a DCHA-controlled development. This whole thing just reeks of every reason I hate DC. Sweet jeebus, Jim Graham … don’t let this happen!

  • “Affordable housing often means “workforce housing” for teachers, firemen, govt employees, etc. I don’t think this is supposed to be section 8 or low income housing, but rather housing for those that make a living wage but just can’t afford to buy in the city. ”

    is that what really happens? anyone live near a building developed by the city as “affordable workforce housing”? are you living by a building full of teachers and firemen? I’m genuinely curious.

    what needs to happen to the building subject of this post is the owners get the crap taxed out of them until they sell or the government seizes it and auctions it off. spend my tax dollars to enrich them? are you serious?

  • Eric — I agree with you re: what should happen to the owners of this building. They should be taxed and/or fined until they can’t pay anymore and are forced to sell at a market price.

    As for “affordable workforce housing,” allowing that I have no basis for this other than my own cynicism paired with anecdotal evidence from observation, I suspect that is just the way politicians have decided to phrase it to spend less of their political capital to build low-income housing. I seriously doubt that this place is going to end up as a teacher/fireman/cop/nurse dormitory of goodwill and public service.

  • I agree with the other Newton street dwellers that although it is frustrating to live across the street from this thing, it is even more aggravating that after receiving 80 citations in five years the owners will come out with a windfall (particularly after rejecting other offers years ago). This would seem to create the worst kind of incentives.

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