This Week’s Horse’s Ass Award Goes To Bacon Funeral Home

DSCN0907, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

We had a Dear PoP about this property, located on 14th Street across from the Allegro, back in February. And you can see there has been no visible progress. I mean if it’s gonna be vacant and construction has stopped maybe they can paint a big mural on it or something. Right?

Ed. Note: I still have some reader requested Horse’s Ass Award nominees and I promise I’ll get to them. If you have more nominations please email them to me.

31 Comment

  • I hope this is being taxed as a vacant property. What an unbelievable eyesore / travesty on an otherwise-booming stretch. This one will be hard to top …

  • This should also garner a horse’s ass award for just being an offensive cinder-block eyesore. If you look in through the window or door openings you’ll see the original building facade, which is very attractive and much more in keeping with the rest of the street. No idea why that couldn’t have been preserved, or at least replaced by something similar in appearance. This looks like an insecticide factory.

  • Yeah, this one bugs the heck out of me since I live just a couple blocks up on 14th. Don’t think you’ll top this one. Is any action being taken by this city on this mess?

  • People need to hang prank posters/banners on this fence such as:

    Coming Soon: Happy Endings Massage Parlor

  • Does anyone know if a funeral home requires special zoning? I would think they could command decent rent with an alternative use and relocate the business to less desirable real estate. Or is this funeral home’s proximity to the Metro part of it’s competitive advantage? There’s certainly no shortage of funeral homes in this part of the city.

  • I’m surprised the architect/ contractor hasn’t taken their sign down in embarassment. Who would want to be associated with THAT?

    I’m guessing that Bacon ran out of money, and that’s sad for them. But there is NO excuse for leaving it in the worst possible state while waiting for the death industry to pick up again. At the very least, they could put some temporary plantings in the trashy, weedy lot. If the chainlink is needed to keep out squatters (and after what happened at to the vacant house on Meridian and 14th, maybe it is needed) at least straighten the damned thing up.

    I don’t see myself needing funerary services any time soon, but if I did, this visual blight on my neighborhood would keep me away from Bacon. It’s obvious they don’t care about the community.

  • This is the greatest feature you could run PoP! Vacant buildings are more than just an eyesore. They can degrade the quality of life, host drug related activity, and destroy the fabric of community.

    These places should pay the property taxes of adjacent properties as well!

  • This is a great way to call out bad businesses. There’s a Chinese place by me that is largely the reason the condos next to it won’t sell. Clean it up a little bit guys, and you’ll get a return on your investment in the form of neighbors no longer afraid to eat your food.

  • Forgetting that this is a total blight on the neighborhood, why on earth does a funeral home need to be this large?

  • This place is ridiculous. I’m also just north of it and it’s one of the worst parts of the walk north on 14th, such an eyesore and depressing. What can we do?

  • Bacon probably enjoyed a period when business was booming and they weren’t able to serve all of the potential customers. So they decided to expand, add extra “parlors”, so that they could run several services simultaneously. But rather than save up for the expansion, they were counting on continued good times to fund it. And then the business boom ended, leaving them with a half-constructed useless hulking monstrosity that destroys the local streetscape, and destroys their reputation with anyone who has eyes.

    That’s just speculation, of course. The proprietors of this establishment could begin to earn back some good will by explaining themselves publicly, and at least taking some symbolic steps towards cleaning their business up. If they don’t, I think we can expect to see them go out of business altogether, and then we’ll be stuck with that concrete-block eyesore for decades.

  • Construction started after the boom times… if they go out of business, they will probably sell the property. Also, as long as the churches in the neighborhood remain, they will probably continue to refer business. My guess is the general contractor had other debts and was taking the funeral homes money for this project and paying his other obligations. Then they caught on.

  • PoP – care to investigate?

  • Prince Of Petworth

    @Triple Nickel. Thanks! I will investigate. Stay tuned!

  • Wow- I walk past here a lot and agree that this isn’t the prettiest thing on the block, but it’s not been like that for YEARS as some of the comments make it sound.

    It’s hard running a small business. It’s great to be a perfect neighbor, but sometimes things like “just putting up a mural” costs thousands of dollars that are- I’m guessing- not available for aesthetics at this point. They’re being a good neighbor by investing in their locally owned small business. Not everyone is in the real estate flipping and development business and has access to investors and financing packages to keep the ball rolling at a nice clip.

    I say give them a break. It would be one thing if it were truly abandoned, but it’s clearly not. Clearly someone is trying to do their best with this business, and sometimes their best might not be able to account for the visual desires of the neighboring DINK condo buyers.

    Okay, done with my rant.

  • Parkwood Person, when you say “clearly someone is trying to do their best with this business” you’re just plain wrong. There has been zero activity on that property for the better part of a year. Maybe more, I don’t remember. And when I say zero activity, I mean they don’t even pick up the trash. How is that trying their best? And how do you figure that it’s “clearly” not abandoned? I have seen no evidence of life there in as long as I can remember. I’ve lived around the corner for years, and I pay attention to this stuff.

    Yeah, it’s tough running a small business. They’re making it tougher on themselves by not communicating with the neighbors (I asked someone standing in the doorway once if he knew what was going on with the expansion– he sneered at me and went inside), and not making even halfhearted attempt to clean that shit up.

  • @neener, I’ll get right on that… no seriously.

  • To answer a question asked above, funeral homes are an ‘assembly’ type occupancy, requiring very clearly defined exits and wide exit corridors to accommodate large crowds of occupants that would be unfamiliar with the layout of the space.

    Even if the owners could get an occupancy permit for another use like retail business, a funeral home has a pretty unique layout. It isn’t likely that the space could be built as intended and rented out for another purpose in the meantime. It isn’t likely the owners could get a loan to finish construction based on future potential rental income either–not in this economy.

  • Anon 12:13 – is a restaurant considered an “assembly type” occupancy? All commercial property requires clearly defined exits. They haven’t built the place yet. There is no existing floor plan, just the exterior walls. This property could easily be converted to another use, occupancy permits are granted upon completion, prior to occupancy. All they need to do is revise their plans and re-apply/be granted approval for a building permit. As for financing, one would assume that the Bacon’s already own that piece of land (it is actually two parcels, one was vacant land, the other dilapidated building). If the land is pledged as collateral, and the proceeds of the loan are restricted to improvements of the property, they would have no issue obtaining financing (assuming they are solvent and have adequate records for their business).

    PoP – if you’re looking into this section of 14th and care to expand the investigation, you may want to get in touch with Avanti RE Services – they own several pieces in the vicinity. Thanks for all your efforts.

  • sigh. Yes of course all commercial buildings require properly defined exits. Just not to the degree that assembly occupancies do. Restaurants are A-3 occupancy and funeral homes are A-4, so not the same thing.

    Because a restaurants have ill-defined aisles (because of mostly moveable furnishings), low light levels, cooking equipment that could start a fire, etc, there are much more stringent requirements for the A-3 occupancy permit. The funeral home permit would not cover it. And the daunting cost of re-engineering the building to accommodate the additional required sprinklers would probably prohibit such a conversion. And that isn’t considering the mechanical required for a restaurant kitchen.

  • To make matters worse, this cinder block atrocity was built in front of, and on top of, a well-preserved, early 20th century Flemish-styled, stucco townhouse with a beautiful red-tied roof. It seriously pisses me off that the city allows (I assume they did) this type of historic defacement.

  • By no means am I advocating for a restaurant at this location, the Chinese carry-out on the corner does enough for me. My point is, you have an empty shell, an enterprising person could make many things work in this site and part of that would involve changing your plans. The daunting cost of re-engineering an empty building is your imagination and an architect and the cost of the additional materials. It must be quite the pain in the ass, I mean DC has so few restaurants and so little development.

  • Triple nickel, have you ever hired an architect? Do you know what their fees are? I was speaking from first-hand knowledge, I would have thought that was obvious from my demonstration of code knowledge. Clearly you are not.

    I don’t like seeing an empty shell there either but as others have pointed out, this place hasn’t sat like this for all that long. With the economy in the dumps, it is logical that some development plans will be abandoned. It is unfortunate but it is also the way the world is.

  • I have hired an architect and I am speaking from first hand knowledge. One of my earlier questions was, does a funeral home require special zoning? It sounds like – no, but they require a unique occupancy permit. You still fail to articulate why this property can’t be converted to something other than a funeral home. If they were 60% complete, I would agree, but no demolition would have to occur to change. The plans (though ugly) were approved once, they can be changed. It costs money, yes – is it easy, no. Are you getting defensive because you are experiencing your own frustrations with the city, or can’t get financing? I commend you for at least trying and clearly you have learned something. Pick yourself up, keep working hard, it’ll happen.

  • triple nickel–yeah you’ve got me pegged all wrong, but nice guess. If the owners wanted an architect to draw up a new concept and immediately approved the concept and had the architect move into construction drawings, you are still looking at at least $25k in design fees alone. I think it is probably safe to assume the owner of this property doesn’t have that kind of dough sitting around.

  • $25k? really? They own (presumably w/ no debt) 3 adjacent parcels of commercial property in an emerging area, and you’re telling me they couldn’t find $25k to get this thing back on track… not very enterprising…

  • Oakie– what I mean is that it’s boarded and fenced- there’s at least an attempt to keep people out and follow the rules. It’s not an inhabited building, but the project itself has not been abandoned. Parkwood is just down the street- I know it’s ugly. Yes, it has been several months but it hasn’t been sitting there as-is for years. Maybe saying that they’re “doing their best” was an over statement- heck, I don’t know their situation, but I don’t think the owners deserve to be vilified for struggling with their business which has, in the past been a functioning member of the community. I struggle to sit at my computer and call a small business owner a “horses ass” when, well, I don’t really know what he or she is dealing with, and I don’t feel like they are willfully of negligently trying to hurt or exploit the neighborhood.

    I guess I’d rather direct my public shaming efforts elsewhere.

  • Indoor paintball! Laser-tag! Something, please!

  • well, how about a space for artists and their studios? like this fabulous renovation of the old streetcar barns in Toronto? If we really want to enhance Petworth, let’s develop some of these empty buildings for making art.

  • The “Funeral Home” business is a huge swindle anyway. No other country in the world (OK, except for Canada) does this macabrely profitable embalming-and-make-up thing as a routine part of their death rituals. And it’s disgusting how used-car-salesman-like “Funeral Directors” use the worst manipulative techniques to peddle their ridiculously overpriced caskets.

    The ill-conceived, ugly facade on this funeral home is quite an appropriate reflection of the morality of their business model: guilting poor people into spending extravagant sums on grossly overpriced and utterly un-needed products.

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