98 Comment

  • justinbc

    Wow, they went all out adding two stories! Can’t believe I’ve not noticed this biking home every day.

  • That is like adding a whole new house onto the existing one! I don’t know much about this and going to assume that this complies, but isn’t there a maximum on how much of a lot a structure can occupy?

    • If they keep the existing grandfathered structure, then it would only be a “renovation”.
      It all really depends on how this lots is zoned.
      That said, this thing is massively ugly. The massive side wall is going to turn the building into a convection oven.

    • It’s zoned C-2-A. 60% lot coverage and 2.5 Floor-Area Ratio. 50 foot maximum. 15 feet rear yard requirement.

      According to the building permit, it hits all of those check boxes. 43 foot rear yard, 2.4 floor area ratio. 49.6 feet to the top of penthouse.

      Will be office in the basement and four units above.

    • Yes – 60%. It’s probably on a deep lot.

      • Note that the lot goes all the way to the back fence past all the cars. So, yeah, huge lot

    • brookland_rez

      I’m wondering how the 100+ year old foundation and footings can take the extra weight.

  • In case anyone is curious, it’s a 1/2 block to the north of the Historic District and allowable by right.. That doesn’t make it any less hideous. Is that the vets facility?

    • I biked past it this morning and almost stopped to take pictures (to send to PoP, of course). I think it is the house to the left of the vet’s office.

    • Union Vet is one door to the right–with the green awning and sign.

      • Has anyone used Union Vet? We’d love a local option that doesn’t require us to trek to the boonies.

        • brookland_rez

          I used to use them when I lived on Parker St. They always did good by me.

        • I take my whs kitties here. Seem line good people. No complaints from me.

        • I’ve been going for five years. I have always had a good experience, though recently I feel like there has been a slight decline in service (e.g. the vet used to sit with me and answer questions for as long as I needed but the past few times I went I felt rushed out). Was thinking about checking out Atlas Vet on H St.

        • justinbc

          We took our cat there when she had a heart attack (and unfortunately didn’t survive). They were very nice both during and after with arranging for cremation.

        • I am not a fan. The prices are ridiculously high, and I always got very disparaging looks when I turned down entirely elective surgeries for my healthy dog. We now trek to the boonies to Lynn Animal Hospital. No attempts to up-sell, lots of personal attention, and reasonable prices. http://lynnanimalhospital.com/

          • The price isn’t a problem with just Union Vet. It’s every vet in DC. High rents. High incomes. Not much competition. It makes sense.

  • Damn, that doubles the size of the house
    i imagine this will turn in to multiple units

  • Whatever you say about the aesthetics, this is exactly the kind of building DC needs so close to transit.

    • Thank you for a reasonable comment. Its in a high density neighborhood and provided the exterior finishing flows well with the rest of the neighborhood this will be a very good thing for DC. Increasing the number of available housing units in DC increases the supply – which we all can benefit from.

  • My guess is that this one will turn out cool. Windows of the bay front line up with the ones beneath, and the 4th floor will have a cool balcony/mojito spot. Maybe the roof deck access will have glass sides?

    If nothing else, PoP has brought an expectation to developers that their pop-ups will be judged!

  • Clearly the desire for increased density and an appreciation of aesthetics do not intersect in this town.

    • I’m glad you can see the future so we know that this house will have awful aesthetics in the future.

  • Clearly the desire for increased density and an appreciation of aesthetics do not intersect in this town.

    • that’s your opinion

    • Agreed with Anonymous 4:17 pm. It’s a pity — increasing density does not have to mean pop-ups/ugliness.

      • I agree. We should enforce density via taxes. Every typical 1500/Sq Ft DC row house within a mile of metro should have at least 8 residents. If not, they must pay increased real estate taxes to build new metro.

  • Holy geez.

  • Hmm, maybe we should create a Pop-up Popville Police? (Pop-pop-pol)

  • Located at the corner of F and You.


  • destroying a beautiful rowie ;(;(;(

  • I strangely don’t care about this one. Yes, it’s a few hundred feet from the CapHill historic district, but it’s across the street from a massive office building. Also, they’ve converted empty lots nearby into several hundred new apartments in the past few years, which is awesome.

    There’s a need for density and (I’d argue) a need to preserve historic housing stock. I think DC is taking a less than ideal approach to this, which is resulting in lots of these pop-ups. I think the city would be FAR better off if they increased zoning restrictions on historically significant sets of row houses, but eased up significantly on parking requirements and zoning in non-significant areas. Add in less restrictive zoning for corner stores, and I think it’d be a win-win.

    • I’d just institute strict design review regulations. Want to build a pop up? Fine, but you have to use the same exterior materials as the original structure. No more vinyl boxes on old brick rowhomes.

      • Of course you should be in charge of the design review board because your opinion counts more than others.

        • My suggestion is basically extending a light form of HPBR to the whole city. Way to not add to the conversation.

      • Materials and manufacturing processes are completely different now than when these houses were first built. I think you’ll find that new brick matched with old brick often looks pretty bad as well.

        • justinbc

          +1 The type of brick that was used to build most of these homes now is virtually nonexistent, and when you can find it it’s prohibitively expensive.

        • But if the house is painted like this one is doesn’t matter what the underlying brick looks like.

          • That’s absurd, on a few levels. First, It does, actually. Paint on new, harder brick will look different than on older, softer, more porous brick. Besides, you’re moving the goalposts. First you said that it should be mandatory to use the same exterior materials. When the folly of that position was pointed out, you then referred to painted exteriors (with an incorrect premise, to boot). So are you withdrawing your original argument and saying that your new rule should only be applied to painted exteriors? If not, the point that material matching is nearly impossible still stands. If so, any rule making or legislative process that deals with paint, especially considering that the HPRB currently has no jurisdiction over paint vs. no paint, will die a quick and deserved death. And if you’re proposing expanding the HPRB’s jurisdiction to a level that it’s never had before, so much for your “light form of HPBR” argument.

          • Huh? You’re talking this waaaay too far. Let me clarify. Same = brick on brick, meaning you have to sheath the exterior of your popup in brick, not build a vinyl box on a brick base. I did not my imply that pop ups had to be made of historically accurate brick. Sorry if that was unclear. Second, I had no idea that the paint absorption rates for new brick would lead to a noticable variance in exterior color. There are three brick pop ups around the corner from my house that have been painted and the exterior of all three structures looks the same on both the new pop up part and the original house.

          • And you’re missing the point entirely. I understood what you meant just fine, but modern brick is a very different substance than historic brick, both in composition and appearance. To adhere to your arbitrary line would mean construction that can look just as bad as vinyl on top of brick. Really, anon @5:40 was correct. You’re just advocating imposing your own personal aesthetics on everyone.

          • Then I’d guess I’d say I support things the way they are now. IT’s not my place to tell someone what they can do with their own property.

          • To the anon who defends vinyl pop-ups on bricks – wow! Defensive much? No offense, but vinyl popups on brick are ugly as hell and the only reason anybody does it is that it’s cheap. Since it’s legal in this city cheapo developers do it and then they sell to the fraction of the population that has no taste. That’s fine, but those of us who would rather not have the entire city filled with houses that look like someone parked doublewide on top, have every right to advocate for legislation mandating buildings built with a modicum of taste.

          • Referring to my posts as defensive is more than a little rich, considering your pearl-clutching tone. I don’t particularly care for vinyl myself (I think new brick looks pretty crappy too, so you’re kind of stuck when you’re doing a pop-up), so I’m certainly not defending the use of any particular material. There are really two points. First, you don’t get to decide that your views on aesthetics have any more enforceability than anyone else’s — unless you’re in certain historic preservation or Fine Arts zones. Second is that most people don’t know the first thing about building materials and construction methods. Instead they have this vision of what things should look like and then advocate based on that, without any understanding that what they’re advocating for 1) is unworkable much of the time, and 2) could in fact result in something even more ugly. Happens all the time in just about every ANC meeting across the District.

          • First of all, brick cladding is a very reasonable option in place of vinyl – arguing that it’s not suggests that you are either being willfully misleading, or that you don’t know what you’re talking about. Second, you may think that brick looks no better than vinyl on top of an old brick house, but most people disagree. Third, how do you get to decide what I get to support in terms of building and zoning rules? I absolutely can support restrictions on ugly building practices – just as you have the right to advocate for a doublewide on top of every building. That’s democracy – most laws affect more than just the people that support them. If I can obtain enough support for requiring buildings that don’t look like they were designed by a blind three-year-old, then it’s fine for that to be the law. If, on the otherhand, you can obtain enough support for your make every building as ugly as possible proposal, then it’s also fine for that to be the law.

          • Your classist references to double-wides say it all. Thanks for proving my point.

          • I’m not sure how that proves your point. Doublewides are normally ugly – most people generally agree with that, although I’m sure that you love that aesthetic. I’m not suggesting that people are bad for living in doublewides, or, for that matter, in ugly buildings generally. I’m suggesting that it is reasonable in a democracy for us to decide, democratically, that we want to create rules that prevent the creation of new ugly vinyl pop-ups. If, on the other hand, we decide, like you, that we love ugly, then it is also reasonable for us to democratically decide to encourage anything ugly.

  • yet another abomination!

  • I like it.

    And plus 1k for additional density.

  • Aesthetics aside, I always giggle a little bit about the “+ 1 for density!” sentiment. If you really want density, tear down a whole block and build a ten storey building. Adding 2 units on top of an existing building adds space for… 5 people? It’s just so insignificant relative to population inflow that it’s a trivial point.

    • +1 for making the argument for density via ugly pop ups not work!

    • And how do you propose to do that?

      If you can add 5 people for every block (off just one lot/rowhouse!) that is an incredible improvement. But whatevs

      • It’s not really a big improvement when you’re turning what was once a family home into a 5 unit condo. The original home probably housed at least 4 people, and the new development is going to house, what, 5 people?

        • The new enhanced row house will bring down housing costs, allowing people like teachers, police officers, janitors, beekeepers, day care workers, philatelists, lion tamers, baristas, busboys, poets, philosophers, and other professions to live in the city.

          • Tons of new housing has been built in DC in the past 5 years. Housing prices and rentals continue to climb.

            So when will this magically occur?

          • indentified, i think it was sarcasm.

          • clevelanddave

            Don’t bet on it, unless you mean that developers will eventually overbuild and the appreciation in housing prices will go into reverse. The line between oversupply and undersupply is a thin one.

        • By this logic, we should just “increase density” by having more babies! When people think about “density” in an urban planning context, they mean “households” or “commuters”, not “warm bodies”. Density is an objective only in that it allows more households (i.e. purchasers or renters of housing units) to occupy a place that is convenient and desirable for them. It’s about “right-sizing” housing to fit demand. In this case, we have a city increasingly full of high-income, well-educated singletons and DINKs who value living in urban centers; the housing stock is evolving to reflect that. Families would love to live in these houses – I’m sure – but not at a price that is competitive with their value as smaller units for multiple small households. I agree with “planner” – we have historic districts to protect historically significant row-houses. Preventing development in other ways just makes housing more expensive for everyone. Good for the current owners; bad for the 60 percent of this city that rents.

    • That was called urban renewal. Failed. Turns out people like right-sized, architecturally pleasing neighborhoods. It’s not all about density.

  • Judging from the camera angle it looks like there are some other pretty tall buildings in the area. It seems fine. This can look ok in the end.

  • With the new story bay aligned with the original home and the inset of the top floor, this will look just fine from the street. I don’t have the problem with pop-ups that so many others do.

    • That might be because you don’t live next to one, across from one, or behind one.

      • justinbc

        Even if I lived next door to one I wouldn’t care. My only concern would be a bolt from Zeus might come down and toppled over the new construction onto my roof. Aside from that it bears absolutely no significance on my own home.

        • The neighbors who once had a light, open, unobstructed view backyard now have a 30 foot wall abutting their property. This will affect the desirability of the house for most potential buyers and thus, the value of their house. I feel for them and it’s not right.

          • You can feel for them and still have a different opinion of what’s “right.” To me, what’s right is not trying to retroactively change the rules when something happens that you don’t like. If that property is really zoned C-2-A, then the owner has a right do build what they’re building. If you think that this neighborhood should be rezoned to a smaller scale, you’re welcome to participate in the zoning overhaul that’s going on right now, but it’s fundamentally unfair to make case-by-case changes limiting what people can do with their property based on who you feel bad for or who screams the loudest.

  • they destroyed the cool roof peak the building to the left has. aaaaaaa! so angry

  • Every time this blog posts about a pop-up, I just watch as many people predictably cry “hideous” and “we need laws to stop this.” It’s so tired. We have historical districts with aesthetic rules–for the rest of the properties, mind your own business already. I’m one of the most politically liberal people I know but on this issue, I’m all about giving people leeway to do what they want, aesthetically, with their property. Cities have a wide variety of buildings and I like it, even if most of them aren’t my personal style. That’s city life. It’s diverse, it’s funky, it’s interesting, and it’s a lot of people who are different than us living right next door. If we want cookie cutter uniformity (no unusual exterior paint colors, no different heights in a block of row homes, uniform exterior building materials, etc.) you can find that in the suburbs. I would also expect that many readers of this blog, who I presume are largely aged 20-45, would agree because we all know how expensive it is to own anything in DC. So if you do own a place, and now you need more space and can afford to pop-up, good for you. I live in a condo that I am not allowed to pop-up but I sure wish I could because I can’t afford to buy a bigger place in my neighborhood. For the pretty committee who hates pop-ups, the answer is simple: don’t live there, don’t pop-up your own precious house, don’t commute down streets where pop-ups exist lest you might burn out your precious eyes!

    • +100000 I totally agree with you comment. My take on my neighbors property is that I don’t care what they do as long it does not affect the structual intergrity of my own home and that it does not encroach on my property. I pass by some popups and say man thats ugly, and go about my merry way. Before I moved into my new home(2200sqft) I’d pass by some popups and say wow, that looks nice and were envious of the extra space they’ve got(because my other home was around 1200sqft.)

    • i have been to other parts of the world where they just build utilitarian buildings and the cities are just plain ugly. the 19th-20th century row houses are beautiful and should be preserved. i am fine with popups as a concept but not when the beauty of the building is destroyed. the developers are driven by money and will max every square foot out of the house without any attention to aesthetics.

      • justinbc

        So buy a house and preserve it. Stop worrying about what other people do with the ones they’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on.

      • Old row houses are being preserved – in the historic district. For whatever reason, this block was not included in the historic district, meaning that this is the area where change is welcome. There clearly is an extremely tall building across the street from this site, from where the photos were taken. Change is already happening to this area outside the historic district; this one pop-up is not the end of the changes in this neighborhood.

    • So if you hate pop-ups, and one pops-up next to you. your choices are to move or lie back and take it? Many people have a rational preference for stability in both their neighborhood and investment choices.

      • But there already are set-aside districts for people for whom that’s a priority — historic districts and neighborhoods with more restrictive zoning. There’s a tradeoff for every real estate choice you make, and if your priority is not having any pop-ups nearby then you might have to pay more, or wait longer to buy, or sacrifice lot/house size, etc. You can’t have everything you want at the expense of others who may very well have made their own investment choices based on the legality of pop-ups in that neighborhood. Or doesn’t their need for predictability matter?

        • clevelanddave

          So tell me when you are buying a house to live in do you really consider whether it is in an historic district or not? My guess is few people do. They look at a row of houses in proportion and figure that no one is going to do anything too “funky” and if they do that they might be breaking an ordinance when they are also violating rules of common sense. Problem is some people, particularly those that don’t live in units they own figure if it is legal that it is ok to do so they’ll go right up to the edge of what the law allows. My hope and prayer is that you have the opportunity to own and live in a house next to one of those people so you’ll know what it is like because at the moment you don’t seem to get it.

          • I hope your guess is wrong, but if someone plunks down serious money without seeing what they or their prospective neighbors can do with their property it’s no one else’s fault. It’s not like anyone’s hiding the ball here. But regardless of fault, if one of the purposes of the zoning code is certainty, then how do you achieve that with your ad-hoc idea of what’s “common sense?” It bears repeating: the property in question is in a *commercial* zone.

    • clevelanddave

      You don’t sound like a liberal. You sound like a libertarian, and probably a renter, so if you don’t like someones funky you can just move.

      • Boy, good thing we have you to tell us our political leanings and our status as non-freeholders. We were collectively a rudderless ship without you.

        • Ha, nice Anonymous @6:23. Sorry ClevelandDave, I own a condo in DC and I’m a liberal (and fun fact, I’m from Cleveland!), and actually being an owner has made me feel more than ever that owners should retain quite a few rights about what they can do with their property. I have a lot of funky neighbors, some of whom I definitely do not love with all of my heart, but I’m not moving because the pros of my living situation far outweigh the cons. If controlling the aesthetics of my neighbors’ houses were as important to me as it is to you, I certainly would have narrowed my housing search to historic districts only. I’m a little shocked that, when making the biggest purchase of your life, you aren’t thinking about details like whether or not a property is in a historic district; really? I also understand and accept that people will often behave in ways that go “right up to the edge of what the law allows.” The question is, why would you expect them to behave any differently?

  • The majority of pop-ups are built by developers, not by individual homeowners trying to expand their space.
    Denser, multi-unit housing does not have to mean ugly pop-ups.

    • I agree. Developers should teardown the whole block of these tiny rowhouses and build new condos to the zoning max. If i have to share walls, then I want a doorman.

  • The problem is that this pop up meets neither the requirements of the building codes nor the zoning regulations. The zoning comments suggest an inaccurate permit application as the lot area is listed incorrectly. Because the lot is not as large as stated the building likely exceeds allowable lot area. It also appears to violate energy code and will probably violate energy code. We won’t know until it’s finish wdc unless someone wants to pull the plans and do an analysis.

    • Seriously? When you build out you have to get a plat from the city surveyor’s office, which should show the proper lot dimensions. How on earth did DCRA approve the permit, then?

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