Boarded Up Building on N Street, NW?

“Dear PoPville,

It’s boggled me for a while so finally thought to ask, in hopes that you may have an answer. Why on the north side of N street in Dupont (between 17 and 18) are nearly all of the rowhouse windows covered up? I’ve tried thinking up theories but really, none of them make sense. Specifically, these buildings are just west of the Tabard Inn.”

This is one of those questions that comes up every year. Last we spoke about it, we learned:

“that apparently the developer, Mr. Morton Bender and his company N Street Follies Ltd, would like to develop the properties into a hotel but the issue of parking has been a major hold up. The impasse has gone on for years and there are those who think it’s time to go back to the drawing board.”

Unfortunately, I predict the topic will come up again next year. Frustrating and a bit ridiculous at this point…

23 Comment

  • I thought that was where the vampires lived,

  • N Street Follies, indeed!

  • Something smells.OAG AMATO

  • There was more than the issue of parking I thought. They also wanted to stretch out the building back further. However, they would be shadowing Tabard’s patio and there were some other historical conflicts. I just don’t remember what they were.

    • and personal vendettas.

      • It was the time we found out Greater Greater Washington is just as much a NIMBY as anyone else. He testified against a really nice urbanist development because it would cast a shadow on a patio he enjoys eating at.

        • Like how they support more transit, just as long as it’s not through Georgetown so Topher Matthews and Ken Archer can see trolley tracks.

        • everyone is a nimby which is why it’s a stupid term.

          • It’s over-used to be sure. But on the whole, you’re wrong. I welcome the Dreyfus development in my back yard (3rd & H NE), and the Steuart Development across the street. What’s a little dust in light of: Cha-Ching baby! My only complaint is that they aren’t building fast enough. FYI: The real NIMBY’s have gone BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything).

          • anon,
            is there nothing that could be built next to you that you wouldn’t want?
            trash transfer location? power plant? strip joint? i betcha we can come up with things you’re NIMBY about unless you’re catatonic.

          • There’s a huge difference between wanting development in a neighborhood that needs it and development in older, more developed neighborhoods. The fundamental disconnect plaguing this issue on this blog is that when a person in DuPont Circle or Cleveland Par opposes something that someone in Shaw or Bloomingdale would like to see built in hi neighborhood, the latter cries NIMBY! What is right for one place in a more advanced state of development and what is right for another, less developed place can be totally different. Such a parochial attitude creates a false choice between “development above all” and supposed NIMBYism. So what you support in your neighborhood is irrelevant to the issue of what gets built in DuPont.

  • andy

    weren’t these the vacants from The Wire?

  • It’s a classic Dupont development impasse: developer/owner with deep enough pockets to wait for what he wants vs. neighborhood & city opposition who oppose and are willing to continue to the fight at each opportunity.

  • Personally I admire Morton Bender for not caving into whatever the NIMBYs are demanding. “You can’t develop a prime piece of downtown real estate because it will cast a shadow over my yuppie hangout”? Puh-leeze!!!!

    The tradgedy in this situation is that a row of beautiful facades sit unused all because some highbrow aesthetes believe that property rights extend to the air, light, shadow and neighboring use of land.

    Too bad Mr. Bender isn’t a more vindictive man….he could seek permitting for a trash transfer station or some other such odious business and really stick a finger in his neighbor’s eye.

    • You’ve obviously never been to Tabard’s courtyard. Taking away the sunlight would really diminish its value.

      I can’t find it, but I thought I read somewhere that this has been going on since the 80s.

      • Regardless of the diminution of the Tabard courtyard’s value, how is it fair/equitable that one private land owner can prevent the economic use of neighboring property?

        Just because Tabard Inn has a courtyard that people like shouldn’t prevent the development of a neighboring parcel.

        And no, I haven’t been there and probably never will go. I don’t support businesses that profit by screwing over the rest of the city.

  • I used to work on that street; there are more reasons other than just the Tabard’s patio. There is another medium sized hotel (Topaz) on that block, plus the new IMF building. Adding a large hotel would snarl traffic worse than it already is. Mr. Bender is also in the financial position to keep sitting on that property until the time is best for him.

    Finally, would YOU want to open a hotel when travel and tourism is so low? Marriott is opening the Marquis because of the prime location and juicy contracts with the convention center.

  • PDleftMtP

    I worked on that block 15 years ago and the buildings were “about to be developed” then. IIRC, there were one or two last tenants who were pushed out – whether by fair means or foul was unclear – in the mid-90s.

  • Wow. Have any of you ever been to Tabard? Jeesh. I am far far from a yuppie. I hang out there often. Married there as well. It is probably one of my favorite haunts in this city. I have lived in DC for 19 years and have seen many places come and go. But I stand by Tabard 100%.

  • austindc

    Wow, I had no idea! I always assumed it was a pepco substation or some sort of shelter for an eccentric billionaire who was awaiting the zombie apocalypse. Thanks PoP for teaching me something new every day!

  • clevelanddave

    Yea but 25 years is a looong time to leave a building empty? There must be more to it than the Tabard Patio- surely there is a solution that would cost less than a few million dollars to solve that issue. It sounds like the city is just saying there isn’t sufficient parking and that the street would have to be widened to accomodate the additional traffic a 100-200 room hotel would take up on the street. Adding 50 or so parking spaces and widening the street are real money hangups, not a setback for a patio…

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