Popping Up and Back on the 700 block of Morton St, NW


“Dear PoPville,

I live near the 747 Morton St. house. Well, it use to be a house. It looks like the developer is expanding up and out the back. The place use to be the same size as 749 Morton St. Do you know what’s happening here? Are they building condos?”


44 Comment

  • Yikes — I feel sorry for the OP.
    In the second photo, the popup hovering over the rest of the building makes me think of Godzilla hovering over city skylines.

  • From the DCRA Website (Application ID B1409165 and B1410573)

    “Changing from tax to record lot for additions (new 3rd flr. & roof deck w/ penthouse to an existing sfd. then pod for conversion to a 2-unit 3-flr., cellar, roof deck flat row ”

    It’s being developed by Georgia Builders LLC, who bought the property for $330k
    They also bought 763 Morton St NW but per Application ID B1412589, the house is already at its maximum size and can’t be expanded upon

  • A rowhouse got a story taller…oh, the horror! The catastrophe!

  • Whoever bought it will likely make a killing. They paid $366k for it. Granted it was only ~792 sq feet, but they’re obviously going to make it a lot bigger. There is already that ugly AND ILLEGAL monstrosity on the 700 block of Morton.

    • Ya, 725 Morton is an absolute joke! Illegally built and many DCRA palms have been greased on it. I’m sure Carlos the Dwarf thinks that one is fine as well. DCRA should be ashamed for letting this one continue but I’m sure they’re not.

      • I have never been in favor of illegal construction. I’m in favor of densification wherever possible though. I’m pursuing a career that will make me solidly middle-class, but never rich, and I’d really like to be able to continue living in the city.

  • Expect to see more of this. A lot of the houses on the blocks between Sherman and Georgia sit on very deep lots (2500 sq feet or so) and currently have 1100 square foot houses on them.

  • These houses are ugly as sin – I can’t imagine that a pop-up would make anything worse.

  • I dunno. These buildings look pretty ugly now and the house are tiny. Expanding is totally reasonably and the finished product can’t possibly be worse than the current house.

  • Accountering

    Excellent. This area needs more eyes on the street, and this will do exactly that. The area is not dense enough, and hopefully there are more of these conversions, that will support restaurants like Mothership.

  • A two-unit building with 60% lot coverage and 40 feet tall seems appropriate for a rowhouse neighborhood a half block from a large commercial thoroughfare.

    • Except that it’s a rowhouse neighborhood.
      The Flash on my browser is screwed up and I can’t view Google StreetView. The houses I can see in the preview don’t look very attractive, and I can see a logic behind buying several contiguous ones, knocking them down, and building something in its place.
      But that’s not what the developer did.

      • The “it’s a rowhouse neighborhood” thing is disengenuous. It’s half a block from a major commercial thoroughfare, and the rear backs up to what was an industrial laundry plant.

        • Just because the main street is a commercial thoroughfare doesn’t mean that residential side streets should have the same character.

        • What industrial laundry plant? Alsco (Linen company) is on Lamont, which comes before Morton so it’s not in this house’s back nor front yard. Further, yes there are plans to redevelop Alsco. The 700 block is actually a really nice block and will be even better when Morton Street Mews is done. I am not sure about this popup yet, but so far I’m not impressed.

    • These leads me to ask the question. . I own a row home on a 2501sqft lot. It’s zoned R-4 and is currently a unit with basement apartment. Would it would be easy for me to get a variance to turn it into a 3unit? I’d like to turn the first floor into another apartment, build a pop and create a duplex apartment to include the current top floor. If not my other option is to do the popup and turn it into 2 duplex units since by right I can have 2 units. Anyone know how far I can bump back?

      • You need to figure out how much of your current lot your house occupies first, then you can go to 60% coverage by right. If you’re talking about a rowhouse, you may need a variance from the BZA if you can’t meet the side yard requirements or if your lot width is narrower than the 18 feet called for in the zoning code.

        • Ok. Thanks. Yes its a row house. Yard is 18feet wide. Current house is 45′ deep and I have about 105′ of backyard.

          • I can’t make your numbers work. You said you have a 2501 square foot lot that’s 18 feet wide. 2501/18 = ~139 feet, but you said you’ve got a 45 foot house and a 105 foot backyard (150 feet), which works out to more than the stated lot area. Anyways, for estimation only, 45×18 = 810, which is about a third of your lot, so it seems like you could almost double the footprint. You’d have to leave a side yard court of 4 feet on one side, though.

          • Well there about 20′ in the front of the home that I didn’t mention. But I’m following your numbers. Thanks!

  • While I think the houses don’t appear to be that nice as is anyway, so who cares, I think the photo of the pop back portion shows why those are probably despised by neighbors. If I had the house to the left, I would probably hate how that would change the feeling of sitting out on my back porch.

    Or course if I were the neighbor, I’d probably considering selling, or doing the same thing myself and then selling.

  • Variety is the spice of life.

  • where’s a city supposed to grow, if not up?
    english sub basements?

    • Blithe

      Well, there are multiple options — including greater density on major streets that already have larger, taller and/or mixed-use buildings. It’s short-sighted and disingenuous to suggest that the only way for a city to “grow” is either row-house pop-ups or “English sub basements”.

      • Blithe, the voice of reason!

      • Except anywhere you try to develop housing in this city there is always someone there who is against it. Someone else said it on a popville thread last year, it goes beyond nimblyism.
        It I is BANANA.
        Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone.

  • Ouch, that looks horrible.

  • While I feel for the OP, my fiance and I actually looked and unsuccessfully (thankfully) put an offer on this house back in May of 2014. This place was a total craphole. While usually i am all for keeping the original qualities of DC rowhomes, this house in particular had nothing going for it inside or out. It was plain, small, and unoriginal. I am glad something is being done to it because the original was not worth keeping. While it may not be eye pleasing right now, we’ll see what becomes of it, but I am glad the space is being utilized.

  • If this owner of 747 Morton, where they are doing the pop-up is the same owner of 763 Morton St NW, then I would be very concerned. The owner was doing illegal construction on 763 Morton St NW in November 2014, where they had a bulldozer excavating the basement before they had permits. Fortunately DCRA put a stop work order. I feel bad for the neighbor, as excavation and underpinning can not only cause a building to collapse, but can also affect the neighboring properties’ foundation and structure too!

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