Short Week – Thurs. Question of the Day – What’s Your Favorite Vacant Property in DC?

I have three that jump in my head right away. I’ve always loved the old post office (pictured above) on T St, NW just west of 14th that has been for lease for ages. I also love the old Fire House on North Capitol in Bloomingdale and I love the Uline Arena (home of the first Beatles concert in the US) in NoMa. Another good challenger is the old theater in Adams Morgan on Columbia Rd, next to the old CVS. And of course there is the classic Wonderbread Factory in Shaw. What’s your favorite/which would you most like to see get fixed up?

The crazy thing is that sometimes I have people emailing me about these properties and want to start businesses/restaurants there, so in my mind something is completely fracked up that the buildings still sit vacant/dilapidated. Now I’m no economist but if we have people that want to open up in these spaces – they should not be sitting vacant this long! Somehow, some part of this system is seriously fracked.

I hate to be a tease but Bloomingdale folks would be seriously sick to their stomachs if they knew who wanted to open up in the old Fire House on North Capitol St. Ed. Note: it is an established and very good restaurant. But I digress…

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  • The former Spanish Embassy on the hill on 16th Street! When I win the lottery it will become my home and think tank.

  • That intersection transformation will change the vibe of this city, big time, especially if they serve yummy burgers, cold beers, and have great live music. But before we go there though, what is with the massive congregation of folk lounging around the triangle every day, and why did Fenty choose that spot to wave when he was elected, why are there so so so many gang RIP signs on one wall nearby, and why has it taken so long to turn that old firehouse into the brewpub/live music venue that is so deserves? Apparently it was Pepco??

  • he, almost half of what you listed was owned by Douglas, wonder why they are still vacant?

    I wish DCRA would get off it’s ass and fix it’s vacant classification system. How about a challenge for everyone here. For each building that you nominate and can attest to being vacant for over a year, call DCRA, fax DCRA, e-mail DCRA and get them to properly classify it.

    Even if the owner is doing something with it, It still needs to be registered w/ the city

    • …and not by coincidence, Douglas is a real estate mogul and the rest of us are not.

      He is not going to sell for cheap, or rent for cheap and lock up the property with a commercial lease. Carrying costs for these properties are low. Much better to pay 5K in taxes/year and maybe gain 100K in appreciation in 2-4 years time.

      I’m sure that if someone made them a great offer they would take it. But of people just have an ‘idea’ and no money to backup their dreams or want to get these properties for pennies on the dollar.

      • This is why we need to get dcra to enforce its vacant rules, so the carrying costs actually cost the speculator something (rather than just the community).

        The wonderbread factory is appraised at 6.6mil, if it was properly labeled as vacant, he would have to pay over 600k/yr in carrying costs. Instead, he pays under 3%, and hasn’t even done that since 2008 (

        I have no problem if someone wants to squat, they just should pay the appropriate rate.

  • The crumbly one next door to me. Every day, I gaze longingly at it, imagining the people who will overpay for it if it’s ever fixed up.

    • ah

      I like the crumbly one near me. 5 years without siding; 10 years of “ongoing” renovations.

    • As someone who used to live next to a crumbly building– why would you like that? Your chances of being burglarized skyrocket when you live next to a vacant proprty.

      • Seriously — I think the owner should be locked up right now. He’s a damn crook.

        IMHO, there should be an 18 month period after which all vacant properties are taxed the blight rate — no exceptions for “work being done” or “on the market”. 18 months and time’s up.

        I’d even vote Republican if it meant this was enforced. We have to get these buildings out of the hands of deadbeats, and into the hands of skilled developers. 18 month rule. After that, you pay or you sell — for a fraction of the mortgage if that’s all a real developer will pay. If they can’t afford to sell or pay the blight rate, let them be foreclosed upon. Flush ’em out of the market, and you’ll see how much better this city will become.

  • Please tell us about the Fire House! So curious. I hope the Fire Station doesn’t turn into the restaurant version of the O Street Market in Shaw…

    I remember the idea for the old Post Office at 14th and T was to add on behind and to the side, and build up one level. Maybe to finance that, the rents have to be too high for a side street location.

    • On my way into work this morning, I noticed a roll-off truck dropping off two large (30CY or so) construction dumpsters. No idea what that means, but it was a welcome sight.

  • My fave vacant property is the Firehouse because I live basically across from it and stare at it each day on my way to and from work.

    Whoever in DC government was responsible for giving away this property for pennies on the dollar without any concrete requirements and penalties for not meeting those requirements should be fired/thrown out of office. Anyone know who is responsible?

  • does Brian Brown still own the firehouse? go look at his porch, ‘wall’, and the sidewalk adjacent to his ‘wall’ on 2nd street; maybe hints at why the firehouse just sits there. the inside of his anna cooper house may be nice but he sure makes it a point to blight his exterior with unfinished projects, a universal machine, junk furniture, tools thrown around the lawn, orange cones…

  • My favorite vacant property is the blue building at the corner of Vermont, V St NW (by Duffy’s and American Ice). It has such potential to either be some sort of restaurant cafe or a really nice home, but is just sits in neglect…

  • The big vacant tudor on the SW corner of 15th & Webster. It was vacant for a long time and appeared abandoned.

    Over the last year, by fits and starts, it is being prepared for a flip. The exterior appears done and there is interior work going on.

    I don’t like that they put prefab stonework up half the front of the building. But I don’t have to like it to be happy that some time this spring someone will probably be living there again.

  • That hobo pee-soaked bank downtown near the White House where they’re supposed to put the Armenian Genocide Museum. Instead of taxing it at the nuisance property rate, the Council keeps giving the owners a tax break and another decade to raise the money. It’s pretty much a symbol of how f**ked up the relationship is between the Council and nuisance property owners in DC. In DC, $h!t rolls uphill towards money. God bless America and merry f**king xmas.

    • same *$%^& $&*#)@! to you!!!

    • Are you sure you know all the reasons it hasn’t been opened yet? I don’t think those are the only hurdles.

      • Part of the problem is that everyone involved in the project–the property owners, the nonprofit foundation, the foundation’s former head–have been suing eachother for the past few years. Meanwhile, the property continues to sit undeveloped and reeking of pee. And rather than grow a pair and declare eminent domain, the City Council has decided not to enforce its own nuisance property laws. Or raise taxes. Or do ANYTHING AT ALL. So, yeah, plenty of blame to go around but you’d kinda hope that your leadership would, y’know, f**king LEAD.

    • Ironic how far your head is up… when I read the comment.

      Ironic because one of the buildings that came to mind was the one used by a dedicated Armenian-American family — who have been in business in this city for nearly 100 years… and then it was rented to their neighbors and sat unused for nearly 3 years while the landlords and renters argued.

      All is well. The property (in Adams Morgan) used and rented now and the family is still dedicated to the city (up Georgia/16th)… but watch yourself… reminds me of people hollering about labels and developments around the wtc.

      This is their city too since they started the business in this city when the emigrated from the Genocide. Fuck you. Merry Christmas.

  • Ok, time to say who wants to come to the firehouse – that is a community asset that is going wasted because of an individual’s inability to develop it – PoP you owe it to the community to allow us to build advocacy for some change which cannot be done without the information.

  • Mine is the Curtis Chevrolet on GA Ave NW. I wish they could use that land for something better, but apparently the neighbors are afraid of losing the sole liquor store, weave shop and auto parts store on that block.

  • I’ve been dreaming about renovating and moving into 5211 Little Falls Rd., NW since I was in high school:

    143 Florida Ave., NW and 627 K St., NW also have a lot of potential:

  • That’s where one of the new Wal-Marts is slated to go.

  • I think it’s time to get militant and stomp out the deadbeats who memorialize decrepitude. Normally, I’d be cool with it, like “Go on dilapidated structure, do your thing”, but budget shortfalls, 30% unemployment in parts of the city, and these deadbeats think they can leech off us forever?

    The aggregate tab in lost opportunity — tax dollars not collected on new condos or restaurants — is no doubt in the 10’s of millions of dollars.

    • Not sure what is meant by ‘memorialize decrepitude…’ but yea.. that is… possibly a very mean, mean thing to say. Glad you can cast that stone though. At least Monkeyerotica can say the word. Let’s give him that.

      Hope you’ve also started a business too like the abovementioned to bring in those important monies as well. Money is everything afterall.

  • I love that little post office. I thought it would make a great open loft type place for a single family dwelling… keep all it’s character.

  • yeah, the old uline stadium, and the firehouse on north cap.
    the warehouses just off rhode island avenue behind the blue church.
    the wonder bread factory
    the building next to tabard inn
    jezbus there are so many.

  • rockcreek coming correct

    627 K St., NW is a mini doppelganger for the paradise garage.

    1900 Gallaudet Street NE

    2000 8th Street NW

    2112 Georgia Ave – would make the best enlarged 9:30 club!

    300 blk of T St NW Robert & Mary Church Turrell House

    JFK Stadium

    Building at Q SW and S. Cap.

    Randal Jr. High on I St SW

    Building on Water Street under Key Bridge

    4900 blk of 6th street NE

    there a lot of em

  • I think you’re talking about the old Ontario Theatre in Adam Morgan, love that building, the Clashed played there in 1979 with Bo Didley!

  • saf

    The Ontario. I want to see it alive again as a movie theater/performance space.

  • EASY! 4001 Linnean Ave NW. On the corner of Linnean and Tilden as you go up from Pierce Mill. There are contractor signs out front. Would love to know what’s happening with it…

  • sometimes to get the best result for everyone, you whiners included, the property needs to sit for a while. why lease now to a 711 when you could wait a couple years and lease to a kite/chocolate shop?

    or assemble the land into something bigger and better?

    cluelessness reigns and not all situations are created equal

  • I’m personally a big fan of the newly vacant hospital on Spring Road between 10th and 13th. I’m just glad they mow their lawn and shovel their sidewalks, even if nobody uses the building anymore. (More than I can say about some of the renovating residential properties along Spring).

  • The large apartment building on the corner of 11th and Monroe NW. There was work being done on the building but no movement for awhile. Anyone know what is going on?

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