43 Comment

  • I just looked at the actual listing for the property and I have to say, the photo above actually makes it look less horrible than what they have in the listing. It’s truly an unbelievable monstrosity.

  • This is probably a stupid question, but I know nothing about row houses or pop ups. Couldn’t they have put windows on the sides of those upper floors? I mean, what are the chances that the neighbors are also going to more than double the height of their buildings?

    • They’re not allowed to because, like the Ella, the neighbors have the option to build that far up. It doesn’t matter if they never exercise it.

      • What about building windows with the understanding that they may be someday covered by a neighbor. Seems strange that that would be illegal…

        • west_egg

          That would get complicated. Example: Bedrooms require windows (for egress in emergency). Now you’ve got to account for not only the presence of a window, but its placement to insure that it can’t be built over at some point in the future. It also leaves consumers potentially exposed to shady developers who could include lovely windows but not disclose that they’re legally allowed to be covered. Imagine buying a place and then having your primary light/air source covered 6 months later.

          • but if it’s offset it wouldn’t be covered — it just wouldn’t have a view. it would have to be located in bedroom either. of course with the micro footprint of a 2BR/1BA rowhouse the options are severely limited

        • Property line windows are common in NYC. They are extra side windows in a bedroom, or a window in a vented kitchen that can be covered up without violating housing codes.

        • I think it’s actually technically illegal to build windows into a “party wall”, i.e., a wall that spans two property lines. It’s fine if you offset it, so that the wall is completely on your side of the property, but then you have to build an entire new support structure feet from the existing support structure: the shared wall. That’s expensive, and rarely done.

          • you wouldn’t do that in something as crass and aesthetically devoid as this thing, but you certainly would if you cared about design. Not everyone wants a stack of bowling alleys plopped on their house.

    • The neighbors still own the air rights above their property. I’m not sure if it’s legal that they put windows on those sides, but if it is, the neighbors would have every right to build walls flush with those windows, effectively sealing them off.

    • Sure they could, but the city wouldn’t allow it. You can’t put windows along a party wall.

    • IIRC, you got to own the air rights to be able to build the windows on the side. Or the building would need to be an end unit (along an alley, block corner, or other publicly owned lot).
      I hope this buyer has an iron-clad inspection clause. Personally, I’d want to see behind the walls.

    • If it was a suitable space for this kind of extension, they could have sacrificed some floor space and created bays — if eventually covered they’d retain an air shaft which can be nice to have for air circulation and sometimes light (upper floors at least). They have to max out floor space in this atrocious design because their ambition exceeded any perceivable design sensibility. Like many failed projects, this called for more restraint than was exercised.

  • Dunno, sometimes I think this will just fade into the fabric of the neighborhood. This will just become one of those random quirks that make living in a city so interesting.

    • Were it well made not ugly and over priced I might agree.

      • It isn’t so overpriced that now a second unit in the building is under contract. I definitely agree that it is ugly though.

        I just wonder if in 20 years, the entire block won’t be that tall? How long can the neighbors hold out from doing the same thing, or selling to a developer that does the same thing? Then this monstrosity won’t be so out of place.

        I think at this point, I’d find it hard even were it not ugly to think about buying it since it seems so hated in the neighborhood. Who wants to be that guy?

  • Well I am glad for the one lone owner because having the building filled is better than it being mostly empty. I can’t wait to see how much it sold for. If it sold for anything close to asking the person(s) is an idiot and so is the bank for lending so much to a project that has taken so long to get units sold.

    • the price had already dropped around $200K — at some point the $ discounts where eventually going to reach some market point where it would sell.

  • Not surprised this has taken so long to sell. Original price was too high and the bad publicity was not helpful. Maybe this “poster child for bad pop-ups” will fade from public consciousness soon and someone can move ahead with matching units on this block.

  • Not surprised this has taken so long to sell. Original price was too high and the bad publicity was not helpful. Maybe this “poster child for bad pop-ups” will fade from public consciousness soon and someone can move ahead with matching units on this block.

  • Ack — I feel like most pictures of this thing are a little deceiving. There’s a tall (for DC…) residential complex a few of doors down, but it’s always cropped out to avoid that perspective.

    • Neighbors Against Downzoning has a photo showing a more balanced perspective. Check out the website, facebook or blog.

    • exactly… not that the building is particularly pleasing to the eye, but the it’s exhausting reading how appalled people are considering the other development that surrounds it.

      • As someone who lives around the corner from here, I have to say that the Ava/Ella sticks out like a sore thumb. The building on the corner that you reference matches in size/massing to the two other modern apartment buildings at that intersection. The Ava is plopped in the middle of a strip of historic-looking townhomes. It’s out of proportion and totally fugly.
        I’d have no problem with a developer buying up the entire strip of houses and starting with a new building from scratch. That’s cool. But sticking in one sky-high tower just reeks of Mickey Mouse amateur hour. Get the capital you need to properly do a large project here or go find something else.

        • I’ve come to think of this as the “millionaire mentality.” Only the best, finest, most expensive developments garner the approval of this mentality. Wood frame, not brick? How horrifying. Vinyl-siding? You monster!

          • Have you been following the RE market in this neighborhood and others around it? Folks are paying serious sums of money for property. This isn’t Gaithersburg we’re talking about. I’m not entirely sure why you seem surprised at this “millionaire mentality”.

        • This seems to me to be the opposite of what is good. Sure, today it looks a little funny (funnier in the pictures provided than irl). But I’d much rather that a block slowly transform and increase housing stock over a period of individual owners making taller rowhomes than I would have yet another multi-lot monstrosity. If DC’s housing stock expanded solely through massive developments, everywhere would look like Mass between 4th and 5th. Much happier to have unimpressive townhomes turned into larger one-lot buildings one-by-one.

          • Completely disagreed. I much prefer to see large buildings (maybe not as huge as the NoMA ones, but still large) occupying formerly vacant lots along major streets. Unlike pop-ups, they don’t mess up the coherence of a block of same-height rowhouses, and they provide a LOT more additional housing.

          • Personal preference and economic factors are important. Not everyone can afford a single family town house ($600K and up). Not everyone wants to own a condo in a building with a dozen or 30 or 50 or 80 other units. Row house condo conversions have an appeal for this segment of the home buying population. Micro-units have an appeal, too, especially for people with tighter budgets. Adams Morgan has relatively new multimillion dollar penthouse condos on 18th Street and a cheap, long-established rooming house just a couple blocks north of Columbia Road. Everything in between those extremes should be welcome in any residential neighborhood in D.C.

          • What boarding house a few blocks north of Columbia Road is this? Columbia Road is near the northern edge of Adams Morgan; seems like a couple of blocks north would put this boarding house in Mount Pleasant.
            And even if you think that anything between the extremes of multimillion-dollar condos and boarding houses _should_ be welcome in any residential neighborhood in D.C., the reality is that in many neighborhoods, they’re not.

          • No clue what boarding house Ronald is referencing, but the Belmont House rents out bedrooms for dirt cheap in a beautiful rowhome right around the corner from those multi-million dollar condos.

          • 1919 Calvert Street. There was a story about it in The City Paper a couple years ago: STRANGER THAN EVICTION.

  • Quotia Zelda

    I am 110% convinced that a good stiff wind will blow that right over.

  • in addition to the sharp price reductions, the cumulative value of the nearby properties must be factored as well. I’d appeal those tax assessments in relation to proximity to this thing. My condolences to the adjacent property owners.

    Oh — and I’d sue if I were the estate of Ella Fitzgerald, assuming her estate could prove someone so lovely was the namesake of anything this awful.

    • Neighbors have the same opportunity to expand and convert to several condos. For the sake of the district tax base, I hope they get higher assessments.

  • It has a contingency when you look on realtor.com — probably financing appraisal — can’t believe a bank would think this top-heavy monstrosity is worth 800K. I wouldn’t want to be the folks moving in with all the bad feeling that comes with this “home,sweet home.”

Comments are closed.