605 Florida Ave, NW- Owner’s Perspective

Back in mid-March the “easygard house” at 605 Florida Ave, NW in Ledroit Park was nominated for a horse’s ass award. Following is an email from the owner’s son providing a different perspective:

“I am the son of the owner of 605 Florida Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 2001. Since you ran a story regarding my mother’s property in March 2010, I would like the opportunity to respond.

My family has owned 605 Florida Avenue N.W. Washington, D.C. 2001 since 1987 — 22 years. There is still a mortgage on the property. My parents purchased the property with the goal of one day making it into their office. During the drug laden 1980s and 1990s, when very few of the individuals–who are now so interested in DC properties–would invest in the area, my parents bought the house from the descendants of the family who built the house — the Lynches. It had been on the market for more than a year. Back then, they rented the house to college students. College students can be difficult tenants and sometimes, indifferent to old properties and destructive. My father took over as his office, after retiring from the District Government in 1991. He worked on many notable projects as an architect public and private, including what was then-the new Dunbar High School and Howard University’s Law School Library.

Nevertheless, my father got sick, lung and throat cancer. He underwent a operation in 1998 and died in 2002. I had personally begun working in 2000 while he was sick. I am a lawyer by training; however, my father was and mother were both architects. My father was raised by this grandfather a carpenter, he could be build decks, etc., and I am a reasonable hack and can frame.

Continues after the jump.

Still, my mom drafted the plans for a basement apartment. I worked the permit through the D.C.’s office, and I concentrated on the basement. Working in the evenings and on the weekends, I gutted it, I did the framing, I brought in Barry Plumbing in December 2002/2003 to upgrade the radiator system and to improve the work supply and waste system throughout the house. A Judge Advocate General reservist in the Army, I was involuntary mobilized to Ft. Stewart, GA in April 2003. 2004. I hired Springfield Roofing to redo the tin roof in the Spring 2004 when I returned. I hired an electrician friend to upgrade the old 90 amperes to 200 volts. I hung drywall, laid tile, install all ceiling fans, install every appliance and fixtures, dishwasher, stove, kitchen sink, basin, ball and crawl tub, garbage disposal, sump pump! By the summer of 2005, I was finally done, I rented the basement to a nice couple who say about a year before moving out, it flooded terribly in the Summer 2006 and I helped the move and upgrade the sump. I even saved the original windows and had re-glazed them where need in the front part of the house. I rented it the basement to students figuring it would not flood in winter.

The day the property was hit November 12, 2006, the driver knock out two windows on the first floor and a good part of the wall. Still, the entire second floor was still intact. Albeit, there was a cracked in the wall. I pleaded with the inspector on site, NOT to tear down the house. Nevertheless, the city tore it down the façade and turret next day before 11:00 am. I believe it was arguably in violation of its own historic preservation statutes. One commentator noted that historic preservation guidelines should keep it from being torn down; it did not stop them before!

In March 2010, one commentator, stated it was such as “a sweet property.” That is the part of our problem. It was and still is a “sweet property.” Some people don’t really want to see us fix it. They want to see us sell it! A lot of people want it! To be blunt, our insurance company, affiliated with the mortgage company did not even cut us the first check until November 2007 — approximately a year after it was hit. Perhaps they were hoping it would foreclose before they had to pay. Still, we had a contract in place for the restoration of the entire wall and turret in July 2007, with a Cory Jones of First Choice Masonry. In August 2007, I had deployed to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. Because our insurance did not even cut the first check until November 2007 (winter); we did not commence the job until April 2008. While Mr. Jones framed up the house, after accepting the second payment, he promptly walked off the job! He just walked off the job and took our electric generator with him!

Another commentator incorrectly suggested that a stop work permit may have been issued regarding this property. That is incorrect. A stop work notice was never issued on 605 Florida Avenue, NW. Likewise, we did not instruct Mr. Jones to do anything short of put it back like it had been built! He subbed the job and simply walked off! In fact, the house has a valid building permit up right now! We have paid the vacancy taxes — though onerous, and we still hope to repair the house! We currently have two bids pending; hopefully, one of them will work out and we will be able to bring back some of 605 Florida Avenue NW’s former glory, God willing!

Now, a few finally comments from this Soldier, and if you are truly brave enough, you will publish this story with all of the attached pictures. I believe the pictures tell the truest story! Indeed, there are two pictures: “Car hits 605 Florida – Full view of intact second floor”, and one that I’ve called “only turret remains at a distance.” Publish the pictures and ask yourself and your readers these questions. Why did the city tear down the second floor, instead of shoring it up? Why would the city tear that turret down?

Mr. Jesus Flores-Cardenas killed two people — Simon Asfaha and Yonas Gebrehi — before hitting the house. I believe he received two consecutive sentences (not concurrent) for 38 months for involuntary manslaughter or a total of 72 months.

Finally, in 2006, Mr. Flores-Cardenas was driving a recently purchased 2004 SUV, with an air bag and seat belts. There was no evidence in the police report regarding his blood/alcohol level, and there was also was no evidence of drug use.”


Pre crash Photo

32 Comment

  • Thanks for sharing this story.

  • Best Wishes.

  • This is a great reminder of how easy it is for us to judge and call names from a distance. Would we ever walk up to this gentleman and tell him his property deserves the horse’s ass award? Should we?

  • wow I am speechless – hope everything works out. Admire your tenacity to finish the job AGAIN

  • Still deserves the horse’s ass award – 4 years is long enough to re-build 10 of these strucutres. Seems like a situation of I care but enough to really make anything happen.

    • ah

      Only if you give out the award like prizes in Kindergarten.

      There are tons of houses in similar shape where the owner has no excuse–at least this guy has some plausible if not sympathetic reasons.

    • not everyone has the time and money to get this kind of thing done as quickly as we would like. he’s trying.

    • Note the delay on insurance payments for the crash. Life does not always move as fast as we would like. Cheers for the perseverence.

  • I see that house almost every day. I am glad the owner’s son could explain this. And the Howard Law library is awesome.

  • A good reminder of why blogging is not a substitute for journalism.

    • +1

    • +100000000000000000000000000

    • if you read blogs expecting them to replace other media as your source of news, that’s your fault.

      • for local dc news, blogs have been blowing journalists out of the effing water. i’ve not seen a dc news story that was not first broken by bloggers in the past 5 years.

        have journalists done any follow up on this story? hells no they haven’t.

        so bloggers havent substituted for journalists? no shit. and thank god. and least PoP know what neighborhood he is in 99% of the time.

        and to you PoP, no, no way in hell i’d have ever gotten this perspective if you hadn’t written about it.

        you should get a mayors award for service to the city.

  • Props for posting this PoP.

    …and best wishes to the family from 605 Florida Ave. Thanks for taking the time to set everyone straight.

  • This definitely deserves a follow-up post when the reno is finally finished. His perseverance through all of that trouble is really impressive.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    I don’t regret for a second nominating this property for a few reasons. It doesn’t necessarily mean, as this example illustrates, that the owners are at fault but it does mean that someone is at fault.

    For the person who said blogging can’t replace journalism – I agree. However the odds of the Washington Post writing a follow up piece on this property are many times more likely after a post like this.

    • I was going to ask where one might find this “journalism” of which you speak. Because the Times and the Post abandoned that concept years ago.

    • Just a suggestion, but maybe one takeaway from this story is to come up with a different name for this “award.” You should probably refrain from throwing around the term “horse’s ass” unless you are sure it will land on the right parties. One way to do that, as noted in Ogden’s prescient comment to the original post (included below), is to contact the owners and let them defend themselves.

      “9 out of 10 of these ‘Horse’s Ass’ awards go to builders who do shoddy, rush jobs. Now here’s one that ISN’T rushing to build a crappy facade….and they are still called a horse’s ass! Every day this website seems more and more like a place for people who love to complain simply for the sake of complaining.
      Maybe instead of lynch-mobbing people who don’t even know what is being said about them, the prince should contact the owners and let them defend themselves. They are architects, I’m sure they would love to talk about the reconstruction process.”

  • My point is that we should remember PoP does blogging and does it well, and there’s no “blogger’s ethics” that requires him to call up an owner and get his side of the story (as here) or call up the city and see what’s going on with a project before posting his opinion on the subject.

    And everyone looking for “news” here should remember that.

  • So if the property is still in the same state in 2 years — does it then qualify for a horses ass award?

    Sadly you are now contributing to the neighborhood blight that your family set out to clean up. At some point you need to do the right thing and either contribute the time and resources to fix the unit or sell it to someone who can.

    You have also paid the vacant property taxes but only starting this year.

    I’m curious what the settlement was from the insurance company and where those funds are currently. I also know one of the best Masons in the city if you have such issues with contractors — his work can be seen on the 900 block of T ST NW.

  • Thanks for sharing. There are two sides to every story. This post does a great job of offering the another perspective.

  • Somewhere near my desk at work (but I’m home so I’m not going to get it right) that virtue is no substitute for talent or actually completing the work to be done. Though I sympathize with the son and it was good to get his side, the problem can be at fault with the contractor, and the house is still a neighborhood problem. Just like several other houses in the neighborhood. Regardless of the good will on the part of the owner. Because between the event that puts the house in disrepair and it getting fixed sh*t happens. Like the house near me where the owner died and I’m guessing the property is still in probate but in the meanwhile the property is a health hazard to current residents. I can feel bad that the adult children have lost a father and need to heal, but this weekend the rear door of the house became unsecured and neighborhood kids were running in and out and if other neighbors didn’t re-secure it, we’d have a drug den, homeless and prostitute problem. There is another house on 6th St NW where the mother died and the son is taking years and years to fix it up. In the meantime, the senior citizen next door has to deal with the rats the property is harboring.

    Though it is very unfortunate that the contractor was a thief and the city violated it’s own rules, there is ‘in the meantime’ to deal with, and in the meantime, it’s a sad mess and deserved it’s award as an eyesore and when the permits cease to be valid, it deserved to be taxed higher.

    Captcha “business burnside”

    • “Piety is no subsitute for technique. –E. Gilson” is the quote

      Followed by “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

      Captcha “thieve rookies”

  • It’s good to hear the other side of the story. The truth is likely in the middle however. I must say that I am growing tired of the excuse “I’ve been here since the 80s.”. If the home is a blight, it’s a blight. Doesn’t matter how long you’ve owned the property. There are plenty of people who are ready to improve this city but many properties ate holed up and vacant because people who bought in the 70s and 80s won’t do anything to their properties.

  • Thanks for the support and please forgive the typos.

    Dan, please give your readers a chance to see what the house looked like before it was hit. I sent that picture to you. Finally, if you really want to see the all the pictures of the teardown — google \Crash Kills 2 in District, sends SUV in Home.\ There are a total of nine in the wtop’s 2006 article.

  • I’m surprised he gives a sh*t as to what any of you think.

  • I lived a few houses down on 6th street and was home the night it happened. My house shook, lights flickered, and it sounded like a dumpster full of bricks were being dumped out.

    A police car happened to be nearby and the fire department showed up quite quickly.

    The next morning they were washing the blood off the road as I was walking to Metro.

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