Dear PoP – Church at 10th and V St, NW: Change of Plans?

The saga of the old church at 10th and V St, NW continues. Thanks to a reader for sending in the latest:

“Dear PoP,

I’ve been following the progress on the church owned by Sorg & Associates at 10th and V St NW. While the arrival of the new dumpsters is encouraging I was wondering if anyone knows any details of the redevelopment plan.

I had read that Sorg planned to turn the church into office space, with 60+ condos to be built on the adjacent vacant lot.

Out of curiosity I checked out the building plan review status on DCRA’s page (Application B1009512). It appears that the owner has submitted new plans to build 3 apartment units (per the “Fire Review”)?

The church building seems much too large for 3 apartment units.

Any idea what the new plans might entail?”

Yeah, that would be three huge apartment units. Do you think they’ll be super luxury units or do you think the number is likely off?

18 Comment

  • It’s worth noting that Sorg and Associates is an architectural firm, not a developer.

  • Nothing is happening. Merely straw permits to avoid punitive taxes.

    • Straw permits. Ethically, it’s creepy. Is it legal? What an awful firm.

      • so what should they do?

        • Register it as a vacant property and pay the appropriate taxes.

          • Yup. If you can’t afford to fix up the property, you shouldn’t have bought it. I don’t know why the city is coddling these losers.

            There should be a absolute cut off point — say, 2 years — after which the owner has to pay the vacant tax rate for any unoccupied property. Flippers should never be holding for 2 years anyway, and nominal developers should be forced to sell to developers who actually develop. Obviously, a rule like this would cause some properties to sell far below market, and that would be fine. The lazy developers would take a huge loss, and the active developers would see a huge profit. That’s fair to both parties. Very quickly, you’d eliminate all the “shell investors” of DC, while spurning revitalization.

          • tres,
            are you a real estate developer?

          • Not anything like that. I just walk around Shaw, for instance, and think, man there’s a couple buildings that could be renovated and make nice condos or a wine shop. Only thing stopping that is some fool who bought the building for too much, and will sit on it forever until he feels like he can make the profit he wants — sometimes by selling it in the same condition he got it, 5 – 6 years later.

            Anyway, I should get off my soapbox, but I’ll just say I’d love to see Gray crack down on this, and use the vast amounts of money it’d eventually bring in to help balance the budget. I mean, cut school funding, or enforce vacant property taxes? Which should we do?

        • I do understand the difficulty of being caught out buying at the top of the market, but if that’s the case, their financial bad fortune shouldn’t be a reason to make the entire neighborhood suffer. Take the loss, sell it someone who can develop it, and move on. The place is a blight, and it isn’t fair to those of us who live here that they can play the system with dishonest permits.

  • Its been 30 and 40 years since a lot of properties like that have sat abandoned and vacant. Whats another couple years? So if you think they “could be renovated and make nice condos or a wine shop” go for it.

    • If we could shift these properties out of the hands of dead beats and into capable hands, guess what would happen? We wouldn’t have to wait another 30 – 40 years. It’s a no brainer. Keep in mind there’s a housing shortage now, and the District population is growing.

      Your only suggestion is to wait. Well, you can choose to wait forever if you like — I say change the system. Stop the cycle that’s allowing this kind of bad behavior to exist in perpetuity — otherwise our kids are going to be having the same damn discussion.

      • Architectural firms were hit HARD in this recession, many being forced to lay off 50% or more of staff. Sorg is a reputable woman owed firm that has done a lot for DC (the contextual mixed income row houses in Ledroit – late 90’s as an example). I hear they have high hopes of turning this into their future office space. They are currently leasing space 900 block of U. They are a good neighbor with daytime neighborhood presence. Worth the wait I’d say. A wine shop?

        • Then she should reach out to the community to explain her position. Or at least return the calls of community members who have reached out to her. We don’t want to exacerbate her misfortune, but her shady dealings and stonewalling don’t garner any sympathy. And now the building is literally falling down, a danger to life and property. Should we continue to wait until one of the school kids from across the street is crushed by a falling wall when they walk past the building? Wait until Chimney crashes through the zillion-dollar condo next door? Or would it be more reasonable to expect that she at least shore up the structure and protect it so that one day it CAN be saved? Many in the community believe she is deliberately allowing it to deteriorate past the point of saving. If true, it’s an architectural firm that deserves to close shop.

  • As long as a government does not impede the process of development (which DC unfortunately often does) it can and should enact and enforce taxes on blighted (empty for 2 years) properties that are high enough to discourage sitting on vacant properties.

    But it is useless and stupid to expect people to invest money for less than optimal return. If sitting on a property for years hoping for a better profit makes financial sense – of course they will do that.

    If I can make $50,000.oo more by holding an empty property for an extra couple of years, why should I care how it affects you?

    If it really matters – demand that your govt. change.

  • Has anyone tried contacting The Snorg to see if it has a comment on this?

    • Members of the community have called her countless times. I have personally left messages on her direct voice mail many times. I was promised return calls on several occasions by seemingly embarrassed employees. We are now encouraging Jim Graham’s office to take action and calling various media outlets to look into the permits issue. If she won’t respond to inquiries members of the community, then perhaps investigative reporting and more focused government scrutiny will motivate her. I urge anyone concerned about this to call Jim Graham’s office (202.724.8181) and the office of the mayor (202.724.8876) regularly about this issue and insist on some action. At the very least oblige Sorg to respond to the community’s inquiries for information. Calls to the Metro section of the Post, to the Examiner, and the City Paper alerting them to an interesting community action story could begin to shine some light on this shady property. Unless we insist on change, they’ll be scraping a pile of rubble that used to be an historically protected architectural treasure so that an a wealthy architect can turn a greater profit.

  • I think that there were issues with asbestos abatement in the church because of the structural integrity of the existing floors.

    Also, Sorg owns the builing that their office is in on U Street currently. I don’t think that they would want to move their office to the church.

  • The building is FINE!! Who cares if there is one more empty building in the neighborhood? I think all of you whiners don’t have anything else to gripe about!!

    Really!! If this is your biggest problem go volunteer at a homeless shelter and get a reality check on what real problems are!!

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