Dear PoP – What’s Going on with the Building at 17th and Kenyon St, NW?

“Dear PoP,

I live in Mt. Pleasant on Kenyon and every day walk past this decaying building at 17th and Kenyon (the SE corner). I wonder if you or your readers know anything about it…?”

Sounds like this could be a potential horse’s ass award nominee but the story is a sad one. Turns out the Washington Post wrote an article on the building back in April ’08.

Seventy-three-year-old Eva Martinez and her two 30-something daughters have a contract to buy their apartment building in Northwest Washington. All they need is $3.4 million, and they need it by July 31 [2008].

Theirs is an unusual tale of tenant tenacity. For years, they fought illegal rent increases and landlords who let their four-story apartment building deteriorate into a hulk of crumbling bricks, loose windows, leaky ceilings, broken furnaces and rats.

And after every other tenant had left the St. Dennis, at 1636 Kenyon St. NW, the three women spent 2 1/2 years living there alone, the last holdouts amid boarded-up windows, unlit corridors, broken doors and gang graffiti.

You can read the full article here.

Perhaps there will be a happy ending after all. In an email inquiry, Council Member Jim Graham writes,

“Its funded, owned by tenants and moving forward to rehab. Bests Jim”

7 Comment

  • Holy guacamole! I had no idea that building was occupied. Good on them for beating the Man.

  • That family used to live on the east side of the building–about the third or fourth floor–you could see the lights on every night. But I haven’t seen the lights since late 2008 so I was under the impression the tenets had moved out. I talked to the developer one time and he gave the impression that tenet group consisted only of this family so I don’t know where they got the financing.

    That building has been essentially vacant since I moved to Kenyon Street in 2006–at this point it would be good to see anybody develop it. Between it and the burned out building across Mtp street, it’s a bit of an eyesore.

  • that’s fantastic news! I totally agree that with the Deauville and St. Dennis fixed up (and a tenant found for the store on that corner between the two) that stretch of Mt.P will look way nicer than it does currently (eyesore is an understatement!)

  • Although I hope this works out for the tenants associations of both the Deauville and St. Dennis, my understanding is that the loans made by the city were for the associations to buy the buildings. Additional funding is needed to do the actual reconstruction/renovation, which will cost millions. At least the Deauville (Monsignor Romero) association has teamed up with the National Housing Trust to coordinate financing for reconstruction. Still, neither project appears to be moving forward any time soon. Maybe the tenant’s associations can sell to developers for a profit.

  • Woof!

  • Here’s the information I have on this building:

    “Re the St. Dennis, I understand the building will be 100 percent “affordable” rental. Low Income Housing Tax Credits plus a DHCD loan will finance the acquisition and renovation costs of the building. The National Housing Trust will be handling the renovation and will be the building’s owner/operator. They are a respected national organization, headquartered here in DC, that typically only does Project-Based Section 8 preservation projects, but in this instance they were sought out and selected as the owner/developer by the Martinez sisters with the assistance of Arnold and Porter, their attorneys. It has been a long and difficult process cobbling together the financing for the project, but it looks like after the final legal documents have been approved by DHCD that construction will be able to begin sometime this fall.”

  • So, tenants steal — perhaps legally, but it’s still stealing — space in a building owned by someone else, keep the neighborhood looking worse for years, and then a city in debt up to its eyeballs steps in to subsidize “affordable” housing using our tax dollars. Gee, I’d like some affordable housing. Some one want to rent me a room in your house and then I’ll just refuse to move out until the city buys the house? I’m game if you are!

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