Friday Question of the Day – Which Building/Eyesore Most Desperately Needs to be Fixed/Developed?

3145 Mt. Pleasant St, NW

We’ve spoken about what developments/improvements that we are most excited about. And fortunately there have been many successes. But today I want to talk about those that seem to be stagnating. For me – four places automatically jump out at me. I’ve walked past these places for years and despite numerous press releases, pronouncements, declarations, applications… they always look the same. Following is my top 5:

First is the Uline Arena at 1140 3rd Street NE in NoMa. Second is the building at 11th and K St, NW while a raze permit has already been applied for, it would be amazing if it could be saved to some degree. Third is the old Gales school at 65 Massachusetts Avenue, NW slated to become the new home to the Central Union Mission shelter. Fourth is the old Ontario Theater in Adams Morgan.

And finally is the one that bothers me the most – the old Deauville apartment building which burned down back in March 2008 at 3145 Mt. Pleasant St, NW.

Which property’s current state of affairs is most upsetting/disappointing to you? What properties would you add to the list?

83 Comment

  • The three facades standing on the west side of the 1900 block of Martin Luther King Avenue SE.

    The old Strand Theater at the corner of Division and Burroughs in Deanwood.

    The former Webb Elementary in Trinidad, which caught on fire this year, most likely due to city negligence.

    The former Crummell School in Ivy City.

    And the amazing building at 2715 22nd Street NE in Langdon, the one that looks like a Bavarian firehouse.

  • Bacon Funeral home expansion. I see it everyday and it my biggest eyesore

  • Capitol Power Plant
    J. Edgar Hoover Building
    Interstate 395 (hey, you said eyesore)

  • I agree with a poster in the old Uline comment thread that it should really be redeveloped as an indoor sports facility for winter months.

  • Fire Engine Company 12, or whatever it is, on North Capitol.

  • H Street Storage (600ish H Street NE) and the god-awful H Street Connection Strip Mall thing between 8th and 10th on H Street NE.

    • I’m pretty sure I read in City Paper’s Housing Complex that someone is redeveloping the H Street Storage location into condos – I’ll look for the link when I have more time.

      • Its definitely being redeveloped. Approved by zoning commission. They are waiting on streetcar to operate. 50k sq feet of retail and about 300 units of rental on top. No more surface parking, all underground. Building will be built out to the street.

    • I can’t wait for the H Street Connection to go away. The bus stop at 8th and H is super-convenient, but it’s sketchy as hell. Once there are some condos or whatever instead of the strip mall I think a lot more people will use that bus stop and I’ll feel safe waiting there.

  • The boarded up building at the corner of 14th and Wallach.

    • There’s supposedly a doctor’s office on the ground floor according to the signage, but I’ve never seen anyone go in or out. I walked by it last night and thought I saw some weird lights inside (definitely did not look like a professional’s office). Anyone know what’s up with that building?

      The other boarded up building next door has an old-school salon on the ground floor that’s usually pretty busy. Someone was getting a cut at 830pm last night!

  • 1700 2nd St NW. Could be an amazing part of the Flordia Ave revival… but it has sat wasted for so long… it’s not listed as blighted but its damn close. The phrase ‘shit or get off the pot’ probably applies to a lot of the owners of these properties.

  • I’ll add 2136 and 2138 Wisconsin Ave, NW

  • I walk out every single morning and see the Deauville. About once a year, they do just a little bit of something to it and I get excited that it’s finally going to start construction.

    Until they do, I wish they would put up a fence around the whole thing to keep people from peeing on the stoop, the sides of the stoop, etc. On a hot day, nothing brings up my gag reflex quicker than the smell of urine baking in the sun.

    • A few weeks ago they had workers come and paint the facade. So now it is a slightly prettier ruin. Meanwhile , after about 12 months or so of construction a few blocks away on Irving a new apartment tower is going up.
      The fire was a tragedy, I was there for it. But keeping Keeping a ruined building standing does no one any good. Knock it down, sell the land and let a developer put something up in 12-14 months. And throw Jim Graham out of office.

    • The craptastic sign in front of the old Deauville, calling it the Monsignor Whatever Apartments, just makes it worse. It sounds inescapably like the name of poor people projects. Makes the blight extra blighty.

      • +10000000

      • What an ignorant comment. Why don’t you look up Msg Romero’s legacy:

        Meanwhile, the luxury condo’s on 14th St commemorate Louis 14th, a power hungry despot who persecuted religious minorities.

        • When his name is used for a high-end condo complex, I’ll retract my comment. Until then, what is being inescapably signified by that artless sign is that the property is being designated for poor people.

          This is a comment that has nothing to do with his legacy. I doubt you could look at that sign and confuse it with a high-end deluxe building. That sign screams subsidized housing, it screams poor people. And lo and behold, taxpayers are subsidizing multiple times over while the residents fail to get their act together but avoid tax penalties for inflicting that blight on the rest of us.

          If you’re in the mood to be offended, be offended that his legacy has been yoked to those incompetents who have slapped it all over that blight.

          • You called him Monsignor Whatever. Whether you scream it, or slyly post it ironically, you’re intolerance is clear here.

            Like any other property owner, these owners chose that name because it meant something to them, but since they’re poor, I guess you can’t bear to respect their choice.

          • No, Anonymous, I’m not intolerant, and I’m not ignorant. I just don’t give a flip.

            And I can respect their choice. But their choice has consequences. And one consequence is that they are ensuring that — even if they ever get around to actually putting that property back in shape and back in use — the property will be devalued. They might as well have painted the word “PROJECTS” all over the facade.

            The artlessness of that sign is itself a sign, something that signifies. And when you slap that on the rundown shell of the old Deauville, you multiply the blighted aesthetic. The burnt-out shell is bad enough.

        • Thanks for responding – there’s so much privileged cluelessness sloshing around Mt. P these days that I can’t muster the ire to do it myself anymore.

  • The Post did a story on 3145 Mt Pleasant earlier this year. I as a DC taxpayer have now been paying rental subsidies for all of them for 4 years (1.8 million) totaling $22K per unit. Where does it end? I am ok with the fact that the District helped them out for the first couple of months, it is what a saftey net is for, but it isn’t supposed to be a way of life. Why am I paying to subsidize your rent 50% for 4 years?

    DC is an expensive place. If you can only afford to pay $600 a month without a subsidy AND you are living in a very expensive and sought after neighborhood, you need to move. Living in a trendy neighborhood that everyone elese wants to live in isn’t a right, it is a luxury.

    DC has also already underwritten your loan to buy the place, and you still want the DC taxpayer to give you an additional 3 million in cash to get construction going? Who do you think you are? Between the 1.8 million we’ve already given the residents (who lets be honest, weren’t all US citizens) and the 3 million you think you are entitled to, that’s a $60,000 per unit subsidy.

    No, it is time for you to act like adults and make the decisions we all make. If you can’t afford to live there, move. You already have a building you got for peanuts, I suggest the tenants association sell it and move on.

    Nosh1 responds:
    1/27/2012 10:42 AM EST

    You completely missed the point, likely because you are on the the folks this article references as still getting rental subsidies 4 years later.

    If I have an apartment in Ffx because it is where I can afford, but I want to live in Georgetown…well, just because, then I am assuming you will have no problem with the District cutting me a 60K dollar check to subsidize my rent for the next 5,6 years?

    I lived in a lot of places in my life I didn’t really like. Why? Because it was all I could afford at the time. As a normal adult, I made those decisions and as I bettered my situation, I also moved into nicer places. It is time for these folks to act like the adults they are.

    Buildings, houses burn down every day across the nation, and unless they are owned by the government, ththe taxpayer doesn’t them. People have insurance, if they don’t ($12 dollars a month isn’t exactly an unaffordable imposition), then that was their conscious decision.

    I as a DC taxpayer don’t owe you “community”. I don’t owe you “housing”, certainly not affordable housing in a luxury location.

    And considering the article said many former residents had already moved back to their home countries, illustrating their non-legal status here in the first place, the entire article makes my die hard liberal DC Taxpaying blood boil.

    • Well someone woke up on the wrong side of reality this morning…

    • I think there’s something of value in having mixed-income communities, and if that requires some taxpayer-subsidized affordable housing, so be it. And if our housing policy in the United States subsidizes higher-income homeowners, I’m all for balancing that out by including some low-income renter subsidies in the mix. (Yes, homeowners, that mortgage-interest tax deduction is essentially a subsidy…but we tend not to think of it like that.)

      • Absolutely right about the mortgage interest deduction being a form of subsidy. But that has finite limits, dictated by the terms of a mortgage. And so should the Deauville situation.

      • Great, you value it, then cut them a check. But please don’t force the rest of us into contributing our hard-earned dollars via taxes just because it appears to your sensibilities.

        • Oh, and I should have added that you are on point about the mortgage interest deduction. But the solution there is to end it, not tack on another subsidy. Two wrongs don’t make a right and all that.

        • Unfortunately, that’s not how tax dollars work–it’s one big pool, and we all contribute in different ways and benefit in different ways. “My” tax dollars support plenty of things that don’t fit my sensibilities. Of course, we can influence some of that through voting, but the reality is that, in any tax and budget plan, Republican or Democratic, there are always going to be items that some people like and some people hate, or at least don’t really care about.

          The only way to contribute solely to the things that you directly want and value is to go live off the grid somewhere and never engage with society…just make sure it’s far enough off the grid that the IRS won’t find you.

          • No, that is how tax dollars. They are pooled together and then appropriated. You want them appropriated for your pet cause. I don’t. If you believe in this so much, write them a check yourself and leave the rest of us out of it. In exchange, I promise not to demand that you subsidize my hobbies either, and rather only use money for pure public goods like the police and roads.

    • +infinity. fyi – the tax office decision is still out on whether to continue to waive the blighted property status which requires a higher rate.

      I love how folks play the class/race card to sop liberal guilt for all it will fork over… then move to the suburbs when they cash in. If you own a building/land in one of the most desirable sections of the nation’s capital, do you really constitute a ‘needy’ community.

      And never-mind naming the building after something american (you know, that evil oppressive place where this rags-to-riches story is possible).

      but i know, i’m a grew-up-on-welfare, mexican-american, actually-bought/live/shop-ON-mtpstreet-with-a-young-child, racist.

    • I agree. Enough is enough! My parents lost their home and everything that owned in a fire many years ago. Unfortunately, they did not have fire insurance. They had no one to bail them out for one day….let alone 2 years!!

    • This is a kind of pedantic and reactionary approach to analyzing the problem: i.e., if you don’t have a creator-endowed, inalienable “right” to something in the sense the term is used in the Declaration of Independence, then the government has no business spending money on that something. That is not view that American law and policy has ever embraced in the entire history of the Republic, despite the rhetoric of the D of I.

      The point is that most reasonable people agree that each government jurisdiction ought, as a matter of good public policy, to ensure that lower income people can afford housing within the jurisdiction in locations with easy access to public transit and other public services. That is, we don’t want an entire city or county to be so unaffordable that people within certain income ranges can’t possibly afford to live there, so that some other community ends up subsidizing the first community. People should be able to afford to live somewhere in the jurisdiction where they work. Not because each individual has some “right” to demand it, but because we think it makes for a stronger community.

      So, affordable housing projects are important investments. I’m glad DC favors them and I don’t mind paying for them with my taxes. Having said all, that, the Deauville thing is getting absurd. If they can’t make the project work, then sell the land to some developer and use the profits to pay for an affordable housing project that can get itself off the ground.

      • If the government wants to support affordable housing, then they should dial back the regulations and let supply and demand work its magic. If you believe in giving money to poor people to live in rich neighborhoods, meanwhile, feel free to donate your own money. No need to force the rest of us to support your project.

        Hey, people supporting their pet causes with their own money — what a concept. But I guess that makes me an unreasonable person.

        • Correct. It does make you unreasonable. This is the democratically adopted public policy of DC and of many other jurisdictions. If you live here you are subject to it. It you don’t wish to be subject to it, there are other jurisdictions with lower taxes and less concern about creating a supply of affordable housing to met the demand that the free market fails to meet. You may move there, but it is a little silly to suggest the majority must yield to your preferences.

          (And exactly what regulations prohibit or inhibit affordable housing? Or are you suggesting that we shouldn’t have building codes, so that lower income families can get less expensive but unstructurally sound housing?)

      • Thank you for more eloquently stating the point I was trying to get at with my earlier comment about tax dollars, mixed-income communities, etc. I actually have no personal connection with the Deauville or its residents, and I really don’t know much about the history, other than having read a couple of brief articles and having been curious about the building the first time I walked by. So I’m entirely open to the possibility that the current process is not working and an alternative course should be pursued. In general, however, I do feel there’s value in making sure we can create and preserve housing opportunities for different income levels in many different neighborhoods–either to preserve the diversity and vibrancy of those neighborhoods OR to make sure that existing residents who tried to work for neighborhood improvements don’t have to get pushed out as soon as gentrification starts to bring those improvements.

    • “you are living in a very expensive and sought after neighborhood”

      SURELY you aren’t referring to Mt. Pleasant?!? Bwah ha ha. Look, it’s an okay neighborhood…but there is very little there in the way of attractions of nightlife. And the hosing prices there are amongst the most affordable NW DC has to offer. Mt. P not U Street or Georgetown, get a grip.

  • Park Morton. Those buildings are huge eyesores. And IMO are keeping Georgia Ave from moving forward. When are they going to move on that project?

  • Bacon Funeral Home
    1700 2nd St NW
    Building on NE side of 14th and Wallach (although the doors are kind of cool, I think)
    The unfinished cinder block wall around 1900 2nd St NW (the house is fine, though)
    The Deauville for sure
    +1 on I-395!

    Frazier’s Funeral Home would have been on this list, but they’re (slowly) starting to take off the formstone. Small victories.

    The big question is which of these properties are subject to the “blight” tax rate? 1700 2nd St NW was supposed to be looked at by DCRA this week.

    • +100, I don’t get how such a prime location in AdMo can sit empty and ugly for so long

      • Speaking of which… is the space on 18th Street that used to be DCCD still vacant?

        These other buildings are worse eyesores, but I never understood how a spot on 18th Street could stay vacant that long. (Something like 10 years?)

  • The west side of 9th Avenue NW along the convention center. Once City Market at O and the Marriott are finished this will probably happen, but for now it seems way underutilized.

  • Tilden and Linnean. Former Congolese ambassador’s residence and subject of much litigation. Now a tony deer grazing area.,_D.C.)$file/05-7098a.pdf

  • The unfinished row of pre-fab townhouses at 12th and K NE….jesus.

  • I wish they’d do something with the Franklin School building at 13th and K St NW. It’s such a potentially gorgeous old building and it’s just sitting there vacant.

    • bfinpetworth

      While I wouldn’t call that an eyesore, I do agree that it is a tremendous waste of a beautiful building, and I’ve read that it is seriously deteriorating from the lack of care. Shame.

    • That building is going to need a developer with a boat-load of money – both because it is a historical building and because it is filled with asbestos.

      The city has called for proposals on this building – and allowing for commerical use – due in November 2012.

  • I agree that the Bacon Funeral Home is the easy winner here. I saw that an “update” about “construction” on this is scheduled for I believe the next ANC meeting, I’ll be curious to hear what the results of that are …

  • Mt. Pleasant would certainly better off if the Deauville was razed and a reasonably attractive yuppie condo block were put up. The building has no architectural value, the former residents have had four years to make something happen, they have not. Certainly, the former residents deserve compassion and help, but it’s time to move on — as, in many ways, they surely have.

    Similarly, there’s nothing wrong with the Uline or the Ontario that a good 8.6 earthquake couldn’t solve. Some things aren’t worth saving.

  • The old hospital center in Hill East. Such a waste of land.

  • i think it’s safe to say that there are so many eyesores all over this city. we all pull connections to something, either because we live near it, bike past it, work near it. PoP’s got his choices, future mayor ImGoph feels personally connected to the entire city, Mt Pleasant people have there thing, shaws got anther. for whatever reasons. but they all adversely affect their communities.

  • Would it be possible for someone to post a picture of the Bacon Funeral Home building. All of these nominations it is getting has my courosity up.

  • I’ll second the Gales School and Franklin School, based on location alone they should be a priority. The Bacon Funeral Home expansion looks like the Borg descended, and I feel sorry for anyone who lives near that thing and has to look at it on a daily or even weekly basis. I’m curious whether anyone has nominations for buildings in SW/near SE?

  • Old GOINS building at Georgia and Shepherd.

    • Agreed.

      (Although aren’t there two retail establishments still operating on the street level? Not that that excuses the decrepit condition of the building overall, but…)

      Speaking of “decrepit but occupied”: I’d like to nominate the apparently nameless takeout place in the strip of stores on the southeast corner of Georgia Avenue and Rock Creek Church Road NW. If I remember correctly, it’s between the hardware store (with sun-faded items in the window) and the wig/beauty supply store, both of which seem to be open only M-F, 10-6.

      The exterior of the takeout place doesn’t seem to have been maintained at all (graffiti, etc.), and the inside is dingy, with the staff separated from the customers by plexiglass. I’m amazed it gets any customers.

  • I second the Goins suggestion.
    And I’ll be a YIMBY and nominate this house on 9th St near Allison. They took a fine detached home and popped it out on both sides, wrapped it with white plastic, and then seemingly stopped doing anything for years. Years.

  • The building on the 700 block of Florida Ave NW that was supposedly going to be a new coffee place and then was supposedly going to be a Peruvian restaurant from the Sandoval group, but continues to just sit there empty and attracting graffiti. The ugly Douglas Devlopment owned newer building on the corner of Florida and Georgia that has been sitting empty except for a discount pharmacy for three years. The awful Chinese food/fried chicken/subs place on the corner of 7th and T that somehow didn’t sell out to Progression Place and continues to do all it can to make the block seem unappealing, including stinking unenclosed garbage dumpsters right on the beautifully rebuilt new stretch of T St. by the Howard Theatre. Those are some of my local annoyances.

  • Swan Auto Sales (on the corner of Swann and 14th ST).

  • So back to 3145 Mt Pleasant St…I’m sorry for the people who lost their homes but that was four years ago. At this point the city could have bought each of the former residents an apartment somewhere else in D.C. instead of shelling out monthly rent for them while they wait to return to the building. What about what would be best for the neighborhood in general? Not only is 3145 a huge eyesore, having a giant burnt out shell of a building on Mt. Pleasant’s main street drags the whole area down and serves as a disincentive to anyone who might want to, say, try to open a new business in Mt. P (gasp…a crazy idea, I know). I know if I were considering which neighborhood to open my business I would take one look at 3145 and that would be that, especially once I found out how long it’s been like that. So enough is enough…the space should be sold off to a developer, and then some of the money could be used to buy apartments for the people who are still waiting around to move back in. This suggestion will no doubt result in all sorts of scathing comments about what a cold-hearted a-hole I am. By all means, call me bad names. I really don’t care. The situation is embarrassing and beyond ridiculous and Mt. P needs to be able to move on.

    • By all means contact Michael Kelly, the DC’s Affordable Housing czar (who lives comfortably in Takoma Park, where there are ___ affordable housing units on his block): Michael.Kelly at dc gov

  • According to the Mt.P. listserv, the long local nightmare of the Deauville may be approaching — well, change, if not resolution. And look who’s claiming credit!

    Monsignor Romero (Old Deauville) Funded for Rehab!
    Tue Sep 11, 2012 6:06 am (PDT) . Posted by:

    “Jim Graham” Dear Friends,

    Excellent news. The DC gov has approved the tax credit application for the Monsignor Romero building at 3145 Mt Pleasant Street. It has been a very long haul, but this tenant owned building is soon on its way to rehabilitation in service to very low income people. A victory for the tenants, the National Housing Trust and everyone who had faith that this could and would work.

    Sincere thanks to Mayor Vincent Gray and his team for this approval.

    Bests Councilmember Jim Graham”

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