Horse’s Ass Award Nominee 1483 Newton St, NW

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a nominee but as I passed this building I recognized the sheep art that someone had sent in months ago. And I realized this building has been boarded up for years. It looks like it has the structure to be a sweet building. I look forward to the day I can re-post this building under an ‘appreciating buildings’ category.

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  • there are like 5 other buildings just like it on that block and the block parallel to it. they do look sweet fixed up.

  • I’ve owned across the street since 2004, and save for the addition of the sheep, it’s been that way ever since I have been there. The developer of the allegro claimed he inquired about buying this property very early in the planning stages to have an additional phase of his project, but he said at a community meeting that the owner never returned his calls. This is a worthy nominee and, I’d argue, should be awarded the prize.

  • I recall walking past that place and thinking it would make a pretty nice apartment building.

    That was around 1990.

  • the new vacant/blighted property tax laws went into effect yesterday. with the appreciation of real estate in the area, those building will be paying MASSIVE taxes. i doubt they’ll remain in their current state for long.

    New laws go into effect for vacant properties

    This month, the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs begins enforcement of new vacant property regulations using taxes to discourage property blight in the District. The new system gives the agency the authority to identify, inspect and classify commercial and residential properties as vacant or to deem a property blighted.

    The Vacant Property Disincentivization Amendment Act of 2010 made several adjustments to the vacant property registration laws. Owners of vacant properties who do not qualify for one of four exemptions under District law will be required to pay a $250 registration fee. Their properties will be taxed at a rate of $5 per $100 of assessed value. Properties in poor or unsafe condition can also have their property deemed blighted with their properties taxed at a rate of $10 per $100 of assessed value. The owner must pay a $250 renewal fee each year until the property is legally occupied or qualifies for an exemption.


    • It remains to be seen how effective this will be. The DC Council is known for creating loopholes, either intentionally or through stupidity, that allow developers to leave properties vacant for years. The new laws also have yet to face a court test.

      I think a healthy amount of skepticism is in order.

    • Is this property on the blighted list? It’s been for sale for a few years, but the owners are asking for top of the market money, which they’ll never get in this market.

      • Therein lies the problem. Unless some city lawyer has the guts and makes the minimal effort to press the issue and go into court to defend the designation of this place as a blighted property, my guess is that, even if applied, the higher tax rate will be challenged and not applied for years. Newton Streeters would do well to begin to draft and collect affidavits detailing their experience (i.e., it’s been the ol’ sh*t-heap for decades and kills that block) and providing them to the city for ammo.

      • I checked DCRA’s website. Unless I’m really missing something, this property is not on the blighted listed, the vacant without exemption list, or the vacant with exemption list. Upon learning that, I took the opportunity to send an email to Jim Graham’s office asking why not.

        I’d suggest others on the block do the same.

        • Looking at the website, it appears that DCRA needs to receive a complaint to initiate the process of declaring a building vacant (if it isn’t on the list) – so it seems like we should register a complaint with DCRA (not necessarily Graham). Even if the building is for sale, that doesn’t give it an exemption if it’s been for sale for over 12 months: “[exemption]: The owner is actively seeking to sell or rent the property. This exemption is limited to 12 months for residential and up to 24 months for commercial.”
          So if the owner doesn’t get it sold within 12 months, it sounds like they’ll have to pay the higher rate (and hopefully will just get real about selling).

          • Good point. DCRA is a worthwhile first stop on this tour. Since my email has been sent, I’ll make myself feel better by saying the upside of emailing Graham’s office is that this is the sort of thing he prides himself on doing, and his chief of staff lives right next to the building. But the process is the process.

        • Just an update on this old post: Graham’s office pushed this to DCRA, and the building apparently has been designated blighted. Hopefully this gets some movement going on this dump being sold and renovated.

  • If Shiloh Baptist is any indication, all you need is to slap a “For Sale” or “Coming Soon!” sign on your blighted property and you can skirt the higher tax rate. Just declare your absentee slumlord holding company “a church,” and you too can benefit from DCRA ineptitude!

    • Remember to hand paint a non-working phone number on a billboard on the corner of your property.

      • r u referring to oitis and 13th? hhaha

        • That place has been pissing me off for almost 5 years now – 3601 13th St NW. I spoke with someone (a blonde woman in her 50s-60s) who’s “affiliated” with the place but refused to identify herself as an owner several months ago. She claimed that they visit daily to clean up the place, but the Otis side of the building gets tagged and they take weeks and weeks to paint over it. She swore that they had been talking to someone about selling the property and we’d be very happy with what was planned; so far, not a damn thing has changed. I’m tired of the loitering there, I’m tired of looking at the boarded up windows every time I come home, and I’m tired of hearing that DCRA can’t do anything because it’s “for sale.” They cut the grass, I’ll give them that, but just sell the place already. Stop with the BS and sell.

  • When Jerry Brown became mayor of Oakland, Calif. He started a campaign to fix long blighted buildings by putting large signs in front of buildings that withr deadbeat landlords that gave out the names of the owners and their telephone numbers. I’m not sure how well it worked, but it was a pretty hardcore approach.

    Actually, it looks like it was a project of then-city manager Robert Bobb (who was much later fired in a clash of personalities by Brown):

    ” At his urging, the Council passed a tough blight ordinance that heavily fines businesses for broken windows and graffiti, and homeowners for couches dumped or laundry hung in their front yards. Trash detectives track down illegal dumpers and take them to court. Dilapidated houses now sport huge signs naming their often-absentee owners as public nuisances, and Bobb has demolished well over a hundred infamous properties that were blighting neighborhoods.”

    • Oakland is still a mess, probably a bigger mess than DC.

    • When the building at 16th & T NW deteriorated to the point where a wall collapsed, the neighborhood held a protest, put up signs with the owner’s name, job and address in Bethesda and got a lot of press. The building was swiftly sold and is being restored.

  • Check out this story – the city was going to buy this property for affordable housing, but there was a lot of controversy about the price:

  • “Eminent Domain”

  • The last thing we need is for our local government to waste more money by buying real estate it can neither afford nor maintain. This should be sold to a private developer.

    I am sick of every time there is a large building with an absentee owner the answer immediately turns to “DC Government will buy and turn to affordable housing.” Enough already.

  • This building is titled (on the public record) to ROBERTA ONG ROUMEL, a well known property owner around the District. Despite years of pressure, she has refused to put this building to productive use. While she luxuriates in Palisades, we in the neighborhood must live with this scar and nuisance.

  • that was my favorite piece of street art before it got painted over!

  • An unfortunate mess this building is, and a true blight on the streetscape. The most recent graffiti appears to be very large letters K-G-B. Impressive in scale, oppressive to the eyes.

  • I quick white pages search shows that Ms Roumel does live in McLean. Her phone number is even listed. Maybe we should give her a call and *politely* ask her what she intends to do with the property?
    I walk past that building regularly and it really is a horrible eyesore.

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