Dear PoP – Boarding House Going Up in Shaw?

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“Dear PoP,

I recently heard that what I thought was a welcomed new residential building is intended to be a boarding house once the renovation is complete. This is the large gutted red-brick building across from the playground near the corner of P and 6 St: 605 P. St.

Here is a link to the petition: There was a hearing last night with the local council member at the JFK community center at the corner of P and 7th at 7PM.

This could be a huge set back for the Shaw neighborhood and those nearby.”

Wow, they set up a whole Web site about this property.

City Paper’s Housing Complex reports:

“DCRA director Linda Argo—who said that there appeared to be much “confusion” over the process. She dispatched chief building inspector Dan Masoero to last night’s meeting of the Convention Center Community Association, where over the course of a 30-minute sparring session, he firmly told neighbors that the developer was fully within his rights and inspectors had found no problems on the site.”

16 Comment

  • I’m confused. What do the neighbors feel they are entitled to vis a vis this property? The petition on the link largely makes no sense. Why is someone that is going to spend upwards of a $1m to renovate the place (that’s what they claim on the petition) going to let it devolve into a crack house (implied by the petition, b/c that’s what happened before)?

    • They are entitled to have their voices heard.

      • But they aren’t entitled to derail a developer’s plans just because it doesn’t fit into their vision of a perfect little white, upper-class neighborhood.

        • white? Have you been to Shaw or DC lately. We are hardly a white city, until you pass over Rock Creek.

          • I know the neighbors. The house to the left is a rental with different floors rented out to different people and other houses include a real estate agent. The block is pretty gentrified and the boarding house would be great. It is just gonna add more bodies, less cars, and more safety to the area… safety in numbers. Condos would have needed parking and would have led to congestion. These people are complaining that someone is developing? I could understand if it was a great looking rowhouse that was turned into a rooming house, but this is a blighted property in an up and coming neighborhood that will be transformed!!!

        • I’m a resident near here. The folks protesting this are not the new, “white, upper-class” folks that have come in through the recent waves of gentrification (I, though, am in that category). Rather, the vocal folks are the ones–of all races–that have lived in the neighborhood for decades and are tired of the city’s forgotten attitude toward Shaw. They are folks who truly care about the area. And although they squawk some, they are a surprisingly effective group for helping better the area in small ways.

        • Poor people can’t keep half way houses out of their neighborhood too?

          You assume that poor people want a bunch of criminals and drug addicts in their neighborhood.

  • MAybe the $36K on the Raze permit pertains to just the cost of tearing down the old structure…although I would tend to think it would cost more than that.

    If there really are plans to build a boarding house, I would be pissed too. I wouldn’t want that on my block.

  • My fiance went to the hearing, so please excuse any errors in this retelling. First, the building was apparently already zoned as a boarding house. The owner (who sounds like he could use some charm school classes) claims that he is going to rent to young professionals rather than turn this into a halfway house that pays him “$30 a month.” There is, of course, no way to know or influence who he will rent to, within the confines of that zoning.

    Rick, it sounds like you don’t make it over to eastern Shaw much.

  • Still confused. Do the neighbors think the developer is flushing $1m down the drain? I don’t have a $1m laying around to renovate a blighted property, but if I did, I would want to make sure that I can make back my money and (again guessing here) that usually doesn’t involve an illthought out plan renting rooms for $30 a month and doing other things that would allow the place to quickly tunr into a crackhouse.

    There is obviously some kind of unstated motive on the part of the neighbors, but I just can’t figure out what it is.

  • I thought that it wasn’t legal to have boarding houses anymore (meaning more than 5 unrelated people living together)? Or are they OK if specially zoned?

    A question for Mike Ruppert from DCRA if he is reading today….

    • Prince Of Petworth

      I asked DCRA on twitter and they responded:

      “It’s illegal to have an unlicensed boarding house. And boarding houses are only allowed in certain zones. Code is no more than 6.”

  • NIMBYism isn’t just a suburban phenomenon.

  • Our neighborhood is just turning around it seems. I think there’s a lot of paranoia around having an NEW undesirable development take place when were so excited to see the old undesirable developments bulldozed. The crime from the subsidized housing projects is all around us. There’s a house just a group sex-offender house just a few blocks from there. We want this stuff gone; not more of it.

    If the dude is just going to make rental properties, then more power to him. How big is that place? $1m buys you a lot of $/sqft on a renovation.

  • When a builder’s own real estate agent and contractors tell you they are deeply concerned about the plans for the boarding house in question and its management, you would be worried as well. Add to that lies, misrepresentations, attempts at coverup (telling residents you’re spending $1M on luxury boarding house while telling DCRA’s Don Masoero again, just yesterday, some figure much lower; trying to appease neighbors by claiming publicly you’re in talks with the World Bank to make this corporate housing when it appears you weren’t) and this project just plain calls for some much needed oversight. That’s what the neighbors are concerned about.

  • I don’t know the ins and outs of the revised Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act, but it might be that the developer believes that keeping the “boarding house” zoning in place would enable him to rent apartments without having to comply with any of the tenant opportunity to purchase act requirements and new inclusionary zoning rules. If that’s the case, then I can understand why the developer would want to cling to that zoning category. Maybe POP could ask Griffin & Murphy that question.

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