49 Comment

  • I’m no fan of the pop-ups, but neighbors probably said the same thing when those awful second story bay windows were added to some of the houses.

  • Want uniformity? Move to a gated community.

  • If one addition destroys your block, your block was in sh**ty shape to begin with.

  • I live across the street and besides the annoyance of the construction, I don’t think it’s a big deal. Like another commenter posted, if you want uniformity, there’s a gated community waiting for you in a distant Exurb. Until DC fixes its stupid housing laws, get used to pop-ups.


  • Hoping D.C. fixes its above-mentioned “stupid housing laws” soon to stop pop-ups, or at least regulate them the way pop-ups in historic districts are regulated.
    Pop-ups on the few blocks that are already a higgledy-piggledy mix of heights and styles are one thing. However, pop-ups on blocks where the houses were designed by a single architect and were meant to have a consistent roof line, etc. are inherently obnoxious, because they mess up that roof line.
    Fifty years from now, people will look back and wonder how D.C. allowed pop-ups to happen.

    • justinbc

      Nah, the pop-ups will be the only part of the house above the water line!

      • justinbc

        Btw, I pulled up the Google Street View and went all the way down this street (it’s relatively short) and it definitely appears to be a homogeneous roof line (for the most part, some dips and rises) done in a singular style. Whether it’s unique enough to deserve preservation would probably be up for debate, as it’s somewhat devoid of detail, but if someone were going to argue based solely on roof height consistency, this block would have a good claim for it.

        • This pop-up isn’t towering over the neighborhood. I think as long as they maintain the current architectural details where the roof currently is, it’s totally tasteful and in line with the aesthetic character of the street.

    • Step 1: Argue against all new development that has any sense of density.
      Step 2: You get pop-ups all over town.
      Those 1,000 people per month need some place to live. That’s how this happened. No “stupid housing laws”

      • Agreed, this really does seem like a case of the chickens coming home to roost.

        • Pop-ups aren’t the result of people arguing against new, denser housing (and there’s not all that much arguing against such housing, other than in Chevy Chase). They’re the result of developers looking to make as big a profit as possible.
          A big apartment building like Park Place does a lot more to provide housing than having a pop-up here and a pop-up there.

          • True class A, big dollar apartment buildings do more to add housing supply in the aggregate. But, Class A buildings are hard to develop/finance and need to get high rates of return (i.e. high rents) to justify banks, insurance, pension funds, equity investors giving them money.

            Smaller, amenity free English basement, granny flats, and so forth can be a source of new cheaper housing supply. Small additions to housing in existing neighborhoods is much cheaper and can be done by homeowners and small time developers who will accept lower rates of return.

    • It’s one thing to have a pop-up that’s an eyesore and obscenely taller than the surrounding structures, but who the f* cares about the roof line? These weren’t designed communities where the intent was to have a whole neighborhood look exactly the same. It’s not totally ruining the feel of the neighborhood. There are some streets that were designed by one architect and uniform when they were first built, and over time things changed organically and now they look different. That’s a good thing. If you want to live in a perfectly preserved historic town, move to Colonial Williamsburg. Cities grow and evolve. Buildings are changed to meet changing needs. I’d rather have greater density than higher rents.

      • “These weren’t designed communities where the intent was to have a whole neighborhood look exactly the same.”
        Not necessarily a whole neighborhood (depending on your definition of “neighborhood”), but there are most certainly blocks — often multiple blocks — that were designed by the same architect and where the houses are either identical or there are certain regular patterns that the architect used.
        Cities grow and evolve, but that doesn’t mean they should do so with zero restrictions. And pop-ups do not result in lower (or less swiftly rising) rents — they become either luxury condos or luxury apartments, raising the price per square foot not only of similar “luxury” properties, but also that of the non-“luxury” properties in the same area.

        • Why is that one time period is the only building style we can have in this town? What makes these houses inherently greater than anything we build today?
          And there are not “zero restrictions,” there is a zoning code. Just because you don’t agree with it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
          Yes, new pop-ups are frequently turned into multiple luxury units, though as we have seen on PoPville, some are also done by homeowners to give them more room in their existing homes. But, today’s luxury condos are tomorrow’s regular condos, next decade’s crappy condos. There is a huge building boom now so there is a glut of luxury condos, but in a few years when these start turning over and the finishes start going out of style they’ll be more reasonably priced.

          • Exactly. Today’s “luxury” (and I use that word loosely, as it’s nothing more than marketing wordsmithing and doesn’t actually reflect build or finish quality) condos are tomorrow’s class B rentals. You don’t get older, cheaper housing without building some newer housing first.

          • Yeah, plus blaming developers for meeting luxury demand is somewhat reverse logic. Prices rise because people are willing to pay these prices. Try building million dollar condos in Buffalo or Tulsa. Good luck filling them up.

            Plus, not adding units in desirable areas just pushed people into less expensive parts of the city (hence gentrification). Don’t add units in Dupont, fine those people will just go to Columbia Heights, which will push people to Petworth, and on and on.

            Ultimately, we need more housing supply to meet rising housing demand. Block new supply and prices will rise more than they otherwise would. A unit here and there can aggregate up to thousands of new units across the city.

    • who knows what will happen in 50 years? maybe people will say i can’t believe they kept such uniform street heights when they could have had diverse, unique styles everywhere.

      • +1 honestly pop-ups are giving the city a lot of quirky character. Old European cities (that survived the wards) are fun sometimes because of the mish-mash of styles over the centuries.

        Sometimes their style comes from people trying to get around the types of regulations they faced back in the day. Look at Amsterdam: You paid for street space, so people built bizarrely narrow, tall houses. I’m sure when the fad started, the Dutch NIMBYs complained that the city was going down the crapper.

    • Alternately, fifty years from now, people will look at this block and note how various residents over the years have personalized their price of it, putting their own stamp on the city without eliminating (tearing down) the harmonious core of the look of that block. Just as all over the place in city and suburb. Even historic districts – which this is not – can allow for some variation and change over time. Sometimes even a historic restoration of a property doesn’t go all the way back to the original look of the structure; sometimes preserving the additions and changes made to the building over time is as important as preserving what the building was when it was new.

  • skj84

    So it took me about 30 seconds to figure out what the issue was. Really? That’s barely a pop up. And anyone campaigning for “uniformity” in a neighborhood gives me the creeps. Not everyone shares the same style aesthetics ok?

  • For what it’s worth, those “awful second story bay windows” are original elements to most houses on the block, or so it would seem. http://househistoryman.blogspot.com/2012/02/sanitary-improvement-co-builds-bates-st.html

    And it could well be one of those rare tasteful pop-ups; only time will tell. I think the general question is: should we allow this type of construction without regard to historical significance? This area is not currently a historic district, but should some reasonable controls be in place? I happen to think some reasonable controls would be good for these types of areas.

    And a bonus FWIW: this house does have some significance other than the first pop-up on Bates. http://batesareacivicassociation.org/2011/05/17/2010-census-centers-of-population/

    • Interesting article from the House History Man site — thanks for the link!
      Yep, from the photos/description, it looks like the bay windows themselves were original to the houses, and the unfortunate siding must have been added to them later.

      • I’d just point out the house in question doesn’t even have the bay windows. So, it’s already sort of non-conformist.

        • Maybe you didn’t see the 1902 photograph, or look at Google Street View — it appears that the bay windows are on alternating houses. This is one of the in-between, non-bay-window houses.

    • justinbc

      That’s pretty neat, a definite selling point for anyone looking to buy / sell in the neighborhood.

    • By your definition, almost every block in DC could be historically significant, contrary to the fact no one has designated it as such. If you want to cap the expansion of existing homes, be prepared to have a predominately upper class, wealthy, white city in a few years. They will be the only people who can afford the prices.

      • what definition are you referring to?
        and you really think allowing pop up is whats going to save dc from a homogenous future? bless your heart.

      • justinbc

        “If you want to cap the expansion of existing homes, be prepared to have a predominately upper class, wealthy, white city in a few years.”
        That transition began quite some time ago.

    • architecturally this isn’t one of my favorite blocks in DC. I think the aesthetics are ugly and cheap. BUT they are uniform and contiguous through the block in a simple and unappealing way, kind of like a prison. If you walk up this block, you will notice. I’m sure in a couple of years it won’t exist anymore, and that’s the shame here to me. It’s really not a nice block, but it has character. Also: good luck finding parking once the rest of these pop up.

    • I don’t understand the “historical significance” of a line of identical rowhouses that look alike because they were designed by a single architect because it was faster and probably cheaper. The historical significance of cheaper housing manufacturing?

  • Oh the humanity!!!

  • Or everyone else could just add a pop-up…

  • I think it is funny that people complain about the aesthetics of pop-ups when the fact of the matter is you rarely look up when walking down a street and selling two or more 500k+ condos only increases the value of your single family home next door. We should embrace the pop-ups as they keep shooting up the home values!

  • Why won’t someone cut down all those trees so people can enjoy viewing the architectural symmetry of all those uniformly constructed houses? What? O nevermind.

  • Let us stand up and fight for uniformity everywhere!

  • Yeah, whoever commented about the bay windows is hilariously clueless. I live on Bates Street. We are lucky that our lovely old bay window –which is part of the original 1911 design –didn’t rot off from neglect, like so many of our neighbors’, to be replaced by cheap vinyl siding. It’s not that they were added later, it’s that they were fixed badly later.

    I’ve been on Bates Street since 2004, and love being in the exact center of the city. To be honest, I don’t now how to feel about the popups. I love vernacular architecture, and I guess as long as it’s not too intrusive, it’s fine.

  • Notice that there isn’t a clear shot of the pop-up. Why? The way it is structured you can barely see it. The trees make it so that the addition is not such an eye sore. You can barely make it out. I have to say that this “destruction of uniformity” seems very small and this complaint very petty.

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