Reader Nominated Horse’s Ass Award – 537 Florida Ave, NW

537 FL Ave NW 02

“Dear PoPville,

I’d like to nominate 537 Florida Ave NW for a Horse’s Ass Award. It’s right across the street from Shaw’s Tavern, so you’d think that the potential revenue alone would get a developer going on this thing. Not so much! It was bought in March 2012 by a developer, and has been pretty much dormant ever since. You can see right through it – it’s open to the elements at least in front (where it is without windows on the top level). That tree out front continues to grow, undermining the façade as it does. The rickety wood stoop may have seen better days at some point, but I’m not sure when that was. If the yellowed piece of mail hanging out of the door slot is any indication, nobody’s even been inside for a while.

537 FL Ave NW 03

Exception number one: homeless people, who use the flimsy basement apartment entrance at will. I’ve seen them sleeping there, nestled just feet from the nearby bus stop. Exception number two: the rats, which I’ve seen clawing their way in with little care for anyone who may stop them. The strangest thing is that the houses on either side are perfectly fine – the one on the left is almost done being remodeled, and looks very nice!

The other thing that irks me – this place is being taxed at the normal tax rate. There’s a construction permit in the window from ages ago (probably from around the time they put that sagging banner up there). That must have been enough to keep DCRA from prying any further. They need to start prying again – this place clearly meets the criteria for blight.”

12 Comment

  • this is weird. the last Horse’s Ass (1357 U) was also getting some sort of tax break. With that one I think they were getting the blight tax rate, but were just getting a giant tax credit at the start of each year. So not exactly the same. What gives?

  • AH must be one of those “developers” who thinks they can make a killing in the real estate market.

  • Re: The neighbors on each side: I have always wondered what that must be like. Surely the rats, bugs, smells, etc can find ways into their house through the walls etc. Gross.

  • Those pesky homeless folks just tryna survive, what a nuisance! And we can’t even tax them properly!

  • As a concerned neighbor you should nip that tree in the bud, literally. While it’s crummy that the current owner of this building is doing nothing with it and getting a tax break, it would be even sadder to see that tree continues to grow to a point that it destroys the foundation and makes the house unable to be saved.

    • I have found that Ortho Brush B Gon kills these things really well.
      You leave the tree intact and spray it on the leaves, it reacts during photosynthesis and pulls it into the roots. You still get shoots but it seems like they are smaller/weaker.
      In case someone reading this decides to use this on their tree I wouldn’t recommend this if there are nearby plants you don’t want to die. That said, there also aren’t many plants I wouldn’t sacrifice to kill these things; they are the worst. I am seriously contemplating trespassing to kill the ones that keep dropping seeds on my property and I’ve thought about starting up a service to kill them and return every 6 months to kill shoots.

  • That tree is an invasive Chinese species called Ailanthus Altissima and it’s a total disaster. It should be taken out, but then for the next 2 years it will continue to send up suckers and new sprouts all over the place. I’ve been battling them on my property for years- after removing one that fell over in a mild wind storm and after the neighbor grinded one up. They grow fast and anywhere- especially in wierd places. It’s a disaster- and when you pull up the shoots they smell like rotten garlic peanut butter. Hate em.

  • Great timing – I was talking about this building this past weekend while seated at Shaw. Didn’t know that it’s languished for quite some time thought.

  • I’m one of the neighbors everyone mentions. We’ve pulled the tree out twice already and gave up this last time because we thought maybe it would force the city to tax them at a blight rate finally.

    We’ve been requesting this place be taxed at the blight rate for over a year. We’re a three unit condo bldg, and all of the folks in my building have put in multiple requests and complaints about this.

    The worst part is the back – its completely open. They ripped out the floor just before they stopped work so that’s completely dirt inside as well. We have the name and number of the developer – we’ve tried to leave them messages, to reach them, even to put them in touch with people we know who would buy them out. No response.

  • I called DCRA to ask about this place. Apparently the building permit will keep them at the current tax rate until September 30. After that, they would have to apply again, which means that DCRA would have to go out and do another physical inspection. Unfortunately, there’s no way for them to log complaints in the mean time or force another inspection prior to September 30. So I guess the way to go is to call en masse on October 1…

    Looking closer at the tree while waiting for the bus this morning, I noticed that it’s actually wrapped around some of the utilities near the base – an electrical or water line. If it keeps growing, it’s going to snap that thing in two.

    • call 311 about that, at least. You may also want to call Pepco and DC Water. If you don’t get a response, your ANC comissioner could help. At the least, they should fix it to prevent bigger problems later.

      At best, they’ll determine the owner (whose name you can find out on the DCRA website…if it’s a corporation you can go to DCRA or the Secretary of State for whatever state it is to find out who is the registered agent for it) and fine or place a lien on the property.

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