Floor Collapse in a Bloomingdale Row House Under Construction


A Bloomingdale reader sends in Sunday morning:

“Thought it might be of interest: multiple fire and rescue vehicles responded this AM due to floor collapse at 67 V NW. Thank goodness no one was in there or hurt.

It is a rowhouse that is under permit for pop up and pop back: issued a day or two before the new DCRA/zoning regs. According to responding fire dept personnel, no immediate danger / damage to adjoining rowhouses though they taped off surrounding area and front of house.

I suspect but do not know whether the heavy rain was just too much for whatever precautions the developer may have made. The permit to pop up and back this rowhouse is under appeal: I wonder how this incident will affect that?”

Another reader reports:

“With only a permit for interior demo, they spent a rainy Saturday removing the back exterior wall.”



33 Comment

  • A/X Construction, the company doing the work, told another reporter that they were totally tearing the house down, which DCRA never approved and would be a total shock to the neighbors who are under the impression of a popup/popback. They also did the work at 42 W St NW. The permit on the door before the collapse was for interior demo.

  • The whole stop the pop thing is infuriating. The bizarre obsession with density has really distracted from the huge permitting issues at dcra. The real issue is with dcra actually doing its job and inspecting construction, not arbitrary limits on unit density. They manage to slow down good developers to a halt while letting poor construction continue. Now down zoning has limited construction of new units without actually solving any problems. Politicians need to stop pandering to nimbys and fix dcra.

    • That doesn’t really sound like an either/or.

      • It might be assuming DCRA has limited resources, some or most of which may now be focused on one thing rather than the other. Although, in my view, it should all be part of the same process really. Except we all know DCRA will need to waste resources inspecting/investigating over whether some construction fits within the new zoning requirements rather than spend more time investigating quality of construction for those that do squarely fit within the zoning requirements.

      • You wouldn’t know that to hear the stop the pop folks talk. They present pop-ups as the main source of all the ills related to construction in the city. They’ve riled up support by recruiting people with permitting issues, misleading them into thinking that restricting property rights will solve their problems.
        Stop the Pop have shamefully distracted from the very serious management issues at DCRA to support their own ends, which are essentially restricting affordable housing for middle income families in the district.

    • +1

      I also don’t understand people obsession with telling others what to do with their private property. As you mention as long as *DCRA* and the City are doing their jobs, these “terribly executed construction(s)” would not be an issue at all. As far as keeping the “historic character of our neighborhood,” the poster should then move to a historic district or a block full of rowhomes with such designation. Although, I really doubt he/she will like dealing with all the headaches that that designation comes with.

      People should realize that you live in a “living” city which will change and evolve. Living in a city means, noise, unruly neighbors, and yes construction. While, I don’t advocate we do away with the height restriction, I do not see why people shouldn’t be allowed to pop their two story home into 3-4 stories.

      As far as empty, under-utilize lots is concerned. Again, we come to the issue of telling people what to do with their property. The most I might support is a under-utilization tax, but even this is a stretch.

      • People can still build up to 40 feet, same as before. They just need a variance for going over 35 feet – which will trigger DCRA being involved. Previously DCRA had no right to be involved. So what exactly is your problem?

        • Incorrect. DCRA has always been required to be involved whenever a permit is pulled — especially for something as significant as structural changes,. The difference now is BZA needs to get involved which is not the same as DCRA! I say this as a owner of a property in the U Street HD and I’m pissed off that you idiots have restricted my rights as a property owner on the back of my house which I bought, researched and intended to utilize back in 2003. I realized it would have to go through HPB to get approval but it would have been able to go back an additional 8 feet and up to 40 feet on the back 1/2 of my property – that task is now twice as hard. If people have a problem with popups changing the feel of a neighborhood then petition to have a new historic District or move to one of the various others!

  • Clearer photos of the extent of the floor collapse (complete with bathtub sitting in sight line of front door) can be found in this Bloomingdale blog article:


    That article also details that the permit for this development was issued in the name of a person who no longer owns or has any interest in the property, not the developer.

    To the previous comment by Neighbor at 1036am: sorry that you find stopping pop ups infuriating as a general point of policy, but it is even more infuriating to be living next door or in proximity to such terribly executed construction on a day to day basis. Our interests in the safety of our properties, and the historic character of our neighborhood outweighs the unrestricted principle of All Density Good– particularly when there are so many empty, vacant, or underutilized parcels to develop (including to my mind McMillan– before any accuse me of just being a NIMBY)

    • +1000

      I want development in my community. I want more density to spur a more vibrant city. I want affordable housing options for my neighbors, particularly those who have spent their entire lives in DC.

      I do NOT want atrociously constructed buildings that ruin character, decrease property values, break the law/aren’t up to code, and risk the destruction of historic homes. And I sure as hell don’t want to continue to live next to vacant houses (including the two immediately next door to me) that are a blight on the neighborhood and have turned into rat dens. I’m thrilled that DCRA is finally taking some action on the vacancy/blight issue and hope that will help drive all of the positive things I DO want listed above…

      • This is one of those posts that’s so nonsensical, it’s hard to even know where to begin. (1) If you are worried about pop-ups destroying the historic nature of your historic home, lobby to get your neighborhood designated a historic district — banning pop-ups won’t help you in any comprehensive way. (2) If you don’t want to live next to vacant lots, you have to incentivize people to come in and make them more valuable, which in many cases means increasing the livable square footage — banning pop-ups does the exact OPPOSITE of that. (3) If you don’t want your neighbor’s construction to endanger your property (a pretty reasonable concern, I might add), the answer is to fix the government agency that is in charge of monitoring construction and enforcing building code violations — just banning pop-ups won’t actually do that. Or you can just admit what is pretty evident from your post: you really only care about these things to the extent they affect you and maybe your neighbors, but not really anyone else in this City; and for you, the easiest way to fix all of these things is to ban pop-ups.

        • This is one of those comments that is so intense in its advocacy of popups, one has to wonder about your motives.

          1) Bloomingdale is considering pursuing historic district status, though thank you for the suggestion. Though that is to my mind an even more intrusive instrument than the more precise step of restricting* popups– so I am not myself supportive of that as of yet.
          1a*) Please note, popups have not been banned, only restricted

          2) Vacant lots are by definition vacant. I am not talking about unoccupied houses– at least in our area we have relatively fewer of those. I am talking about large parcels like McMillan and various lots near Truxton Circle. No need to allow unrestricted popups to incentivize that development– they are valuable enough as is to the market.

          3) If you accuse me of caring most about what impacts me and my immediate neighbors (more about them, because I do not live adjacent to a popup) most, I am guilty of that and yet feel no guilt for it.
          3a) Also, as you keep repeating the phrase “banning popups”, I will also repeat and refer you back to 1a and the actual DCRA / ZC regs: popups are not banned, just restricted. This project being the last or among the last approved under the old rules. My concern and that of many in my neighborhood is that *this* popup be stopped, given the developer’s track record at 42 W and that this came in under the previous, insufficient regulation. We do not seek to stop / ban *all* popups in general– or at least I don’t. I think DCRA and ZC actually had a commendable balance in that regard– there is room for setback pop ups and modest additions which will accommodate many homeowner expansion needs as well as incremental density increases of the 2-3 unit variety. But again– my concern and that of neighbors is primarily for this project, and its threat to the homes of others.

          • I would just point out that anon appears to be addressing RIA NE, not you. Then again, perhaps you are both of those commenters, commenting on your own comment with a big plus! I am sure it happens a bit around here.

            I’ll say what I always do about the anti pop up crowd: I feel you on wanting to be sure construction is cheap and crappy. I feel you on wanting to be sure your light rights are preserved for your backyards. I get all of that. What I will never feel you on is the level of self righteousness so many have that because they beat someone to a neighborhood a few years earlier, they have the right to dictate to everyone who comes after the rules under which they can buy property in that neighborhood. Especially while you sit back and enjoy watching your property values shoot through the roof and throw up barriers to people who maybe don’t want or can’t afford a house, prefer a condo, and would like to also live in that neighborhood. Density isn’t just good for developers and meeting demand. It brings in additional businesses and amenities. If anyone thinks Shaw would be nearly as desirable as it is now without more density, they are crazy. You don’t get to have it both ways.

          • To Truxton Resident above– appreciate that you get the concerns. I can assure you that I have nor intend any self-righteousness about neighborhood access. None of us are dictating rules about buying property or asking others to do so- just some modest rules about the development of property already there.

            And to repeat, with so many parcels in/adjacent to our neighborhood (Bloomingdale) that are vacant and non R-4 zoned (such as along North Cap and RI Ave NW), there are tons of opportunities for condos, apartments, etc. There are several projects on N Cap and 1st St alone. Frankly, I hope we get a ton more of them– I want much more density with those additional businesses and amenities you discuss, though I know there are some in the restrict-pop-up-crowd who do not. I think we can get to have it both ways with a balanced approach to the matter.

            As for who anon responded to– that is my error, I scanned quickly and completely missed RIA NE, so I thought anon was responding to me. I am not RIA NE, BTW. That is Eckington or Brookland or further parts NE, not Bloomingdale. Though I do agree with much of what s/he had to say.

        • Screw historical charm… the popups look cheap and are ugly. Neighbors certainly should have input through their elected representatives and their government on what they think should be changes to their neighborhood.

          Whether its a historical issue or not, additions should be congruent with the buildings directly around it, unless specifically allowed through a process. Buying a masonry house and building a monstrous addition with plywood and vinyl siding doesnt make sense. Its all about the developer making a cheap buck and wont help the buyers maintain value and will diminish the value of the neighborhood over the long term.

          • Well then instead of preventing ‘popups’ by restricting R4 to 35 feet they should of restricted the type of materials utilized instead; i.e, no vinyl, aluminum, FORMASTONE! However, even though I’m not a fan of any of those materials you are treading very quickly towards the arena of a HOA or a Historic District. So if you want some say in how your NEIGHBOR outfits their property maybe you should move to one of those neighborhoods currently under those restrictions.

          • +1000000 Davestar. Limiting pop ups to 35 feet does NOTHING to accomplish the stated goals of the anti pop up crowd, which is why I think their stated goals aren’t their real goals.

          • To Anony above: you proceed from the false assumption that there is a monolithic antipopup crowd that approaches this with uniform motivation. For me, my concerns are primarily about safety of adjoining houses and the impact on light and air and solar rights for adjacent properties. The popup and pop back restrictions as written very clearly and simply advance my goals because of geometry and engineering. And those goals are my real ones.

    • +1. Density and historic preservation don’t have to be incompatible.

      • they don’t have to be in theory, but in reality, the limits on re-development in a historic area make increasing density very difficult.

        • Re-development itself, whether adding density or not, is hard in a historic area. Perhaps if it wasn’t made so exceedingly difficult, you’d have more a of a balance and more of a willingness to support expanding historic areas in the city.

  • Of course DCRA has its issues but if the developer is doing shoddy work out of scope of the permit should DCRA really carry all of the blame? Yes there should be more inspections but no permitting body in any city has the manpower to inspect every single construction site.

    • Well, that’s the problem, isn’t it? Developers know that DCRA is toothless and understaffed, and prior to the NPR series a couple of weeks ago they knew that it was *really* cheap to bribe those that actually paid attention. “We’re dong shoddy, un-permitted work because DCRA doesn’t move fast enough for us” isn’t a valid excuse.

    • Why not? Other jurisdictions do this.

    • What a bizarre comment. Thousands of cities the size of DC and much larger manage construction in their limits without the kinds of huge problems DC has. “It’s too hard” is not something you tell people when poor construction next door puts the structural integrity of their house at risk.
      Maybe if the city took some of the billions being spent on affordable housing, put that into reforming DCRA, then removed density restrictions so medium income families could actually find housing, the city would be okay.

  • What do they mean that the floor collapsed? The back portion of the house as in most rear addition cases will be demolished. DCRA is under tremendous pressure to look closely at these projects, not to mention that neighbor has called every media channel they could get hold of to “expose” the situation. The fact that DCRA immediately lifted the order makes me wonder if this whole scenario is made up by the neighbor.

    • I think by “floor collapsed” they mean that pieces of the structure fell off of their own accord, not that construction crews completed controlled demolition of part of the structure. That seems worrisome, no?

    • It means the floor fell down Sunday morning while no one was on site. This was not a controlled demolition.

      • Exactly– the demo started Saturday with back of house taken down in controlled fashion. On Saturday night there were two floors– I saw it myself on a walk that night.

        Then at some point early Sunday morning, floor two collapsed: no one there, other neighbors called 911 when they heard it.

        To the conspiratorial points of “work in DC” at 1117 and the very pro pop up / never mind the costs “neighbor”, that is not the case here. A bunch of us living on this block and adjacent blocks are concerned with this matter– it is not just the adjoining property owners.

  • Neighbors are doing everything to stop work including making false elagations for media attention. You can’t take away someone’s right because you don’t want to see change. Builders are within regulation and are building according to their rights. There is nothing cheap looking about these building! These new condos are beautiful and are meeting the housing demand for a populated city and I see nothing wrong with that. If the neighborhood was considered historic it would be zoned as that! Change comes with city living!

  • This developer is just a douchebag. He drives up in his red Lamborghini and he tells people to “Get a life” ….while he developed 42W he destroyed 40W and the owners vacated and sold it. Now he’s destroying the neighboring houses at 67W with complete disregard.

    I cannot for the life of me understand why anybody writing on this blog would defend this guys right to do that crap.

    And all this talk about density and affordable housing….. Blah. Such a crock of Sh*t…… the top unit on 42W is selling for 799K. So that’s your affordable housing for you. It’s such a cover for what this really is….cheap flipping and wanton speculation. And greed. Simple as that.

  • Could not agree more with Todd. This is not about affordable anything. I live in the shadow of 47W and the entire character of the backyards have changed. This is a unique Block for that reason. I am not opposed to popups or pop backs. However, the extent to which they did so in the back is an excessive disregard for the neighbors and the feel of this neighborhood. If this developer were really talking about keeping affordable housing in this neighborhood, I’d be all for the scope of this project. Educate yourselves on this developer and you will quickly realize the predatory nature of his projects. This is greed pure and simple.

  • No one is against urban development that improves the city, neighborhoods, and creates more affordable housing–we are against cheap construction like that of A/X that undermines the integrity of a structure that is 100+ years old and then charges a whopping $799K for something that is structurally precarious. We are against ugly designs that lack the creativity or vision to honor our Victorian/Wardman styles while also innovating. A/X’s 42 W exemplifies all that is broken about current DCRA zoning and process. I desperately hope they don’t get to rip off future buyers at 67 V like they are trying to do at 42W.

Comments are closed.