“So sad. These homes are about 115 years old. Oh and they’re blocking a fire hydrant.”


A reader sends nominates “this tragedy on Ontario between Kalorama and Euclid” for a Horse’s Ass Award. He adds:

“So sad. These homes are about 115 years old. Oh and they’re blocking a fire hydrant. Have been for days. I called the cops and they basically laughed and said I quote “if a house is on fire, then it’s the fire department problem not us” which was awesome and not surprising at all.”




38 Comment

  • The aesthetics of the particular pop-up can be debated, but the argument that one can’t add a floor to a house because it’s old isn’t great. My house is at least 112 years old (hard to say; I haven’t been able to track down an original build permit, but it shows up on a 1903 survey), and it was popped back in 1928 and popped up in 2010. Times change, tastes change, construction methods change. Houses have to be adapted to the times while maintaining some old bones and character, which this appears to be doing.

    • maxwell smart

      Agreed – and the photos it appears like the houses next door could use a little upkeep.

      • Yup, but even upkeep only keeps a house viable for so long between major rehabilitations. I just wish developers didn’t phone it in so often.

      • I keep telling our landlord exactly that. It has been on the ‘to-do’ list for the better part of a year…

  • Can’t wait for the listing that says, “HUGE OPEN BALCONY!”

  • It seems the primary complaint is not about the pop up, but rather what looks like a careless and shoddy job of it. Secondary but no less important complaint is that construction materials have been blocking a fire hydrant for nearly a week.

    • How do we know it was careless and shoddy? Maybe the existing facade was in such disrepair that it made more sense to take it down and rebuild it. For all we know, they’re going to rebuild it so it blends with the rest of the building and character of the neighborhood and so the pop-up isn’t as distinct from the rest of the structure.

      • There is nothing about the new facade that would suggest it will look like the buildings around it.

      • It LOOKS careless and shoddy. The demolition is sloppy, the plywood in the second pic appears to have been exposed to the elements for a while, there’s a massive pile of debris in the front yard and the place looks abandoned. These things plus the fact that they’re blocking a fire hydrant, could lead one to believe they couldn’t care less about something like character of the neighborhood. Ditto quality construction.

      • The building has been vacant for the 1.5yrs I’ve lived next door, so at first we were just glad people were taking an interest in it. It was looking pretty rough prior to the demo; I don’t know about structural integrity of brick facades, but I wouldn’t be that surprised if you told me it wasn’t structurally sound anymore. From they way the backside of the building looks, I very much doubt they’re going to give it a lot of the old character it once had, but that’s an uneducated opinion.

        I just wish they’d stop getting concrete and brick dust on literally everything I own. It comes through the walls, it rains down on my car…aaaah!

  • My guess is that MPD won’t care about people removing the 2x4s left in the road either.

    • I love how people are blaming MPD for construction debris now.

      • Were you listening to the Dude’s story, Donny?

        The OP is not blaming MPD for putting it there. Rather blaming them for blowing off a perfectly reasonable request that they do something about a construction company illegally blocking a fire hydrant. Which is, you know, THEIR JOB!

  • I’m not against pop-ups in principle but about 85% of them are absolutely hideous. It’s not that hard to design a pop-up with a minimum consideration to the existing building and the housing style of the block. I guess that would take too much focus away from getting every last drop of profit out of a building. That should be a sign to buyers. I’d be willing to bet there is a close association between poor design and poor construction. Perfect case in point is the big pop-up and pop-back on 14th and Meridian Pl. The design looks terrible and, surprise, under all that siding is rotting plywood because the builders left it uncovered for months over the winter. No inspector saw it and I’m sure the new residents bought it “as is”.

    • And you pulled that 85% number from — where? Personal opinion?
      IMHO only about 1% of popups look less than good.

  • Its so funny on other posts where people complain saying that police resources could be better used preventing real crime instead of ticketing softball players etc….i feel the same way about some of the people that report stuff on here. Its like are yo that bored/bothered by other people’s doing that it drives you almost bat shit crazy? If you live in one of the houses affected, sure but if not, can’t some people mind their own business?

    • Fire hydrants don’t service one house. If there’s a fire anywhere on this street, the blocked hydrant could mean the difference between minor damage and a total loss.

      This is not some imagined case of white people entitlement. It is not softball players drinking beer on the lawn. Learn the difference between a nuisance crime and an actual threat to people’s lives and property before coming here with that nonsense. If a house burns on that block and that crap is in the road blocking the hydrant, the damage is entirely on MPD’s lazy hands.

      • You throw a lot of accusations based on no first hand information and a lot of assumptions.

      • while you are in theory correct, in reality the odds of this actually happening are minuscule, so slow down with the outrage.

  • HaileUnlikely

    Lord. I know the previous owner. He was a great guy but also one odd duck. Bought this house in the late 90’s for peanuts, lived in it in a state of disrepair for about a decade (had plenty of $$$ to renovate at will, just didn’t bother), moved to NYC a few years ago, and just cashed out for $1M.

  • Looks like they tore a bit into the house next door too. Between that, parking the lumber near a fire hydrant, and the shape of the pop-up, the developers seem extraordinarily careless. Caveat emptor.

  • Not much context from OP here. I don’t see what’s wrong with this yet. It’s hard to have any idea how the final product will look. As OP points out many district homes are over 100 years old and require extensive renovation of both internal elements and the structure.
    As for the 2x4s, they neglected to even say how long they have been there. If they have been there for weeks I see how that’s a concern. With the limited space in that neighborhood, if they’ve only left them there a few minutes I would find it hard to blame them.

  • So — what “are” the zooming laws in D.C. p-ups? Are there any?
    Like shunting pedestrians midway off the sidewalk for construction projects, wanton pop-ups seem to be a disregard particular to D.C.

    • zooming = zoning

    • Zoning does not address aesthetics – the look of the project. It does address building height, but I would guess that that is not an issue with this project as the height limits in residential areas can be great than you might expect – it could be 40 or 50 feet. (I can’t say for sure, as I don’t know the zone at this address.)
      If this property were in an official historic district, the rules are quite different; the historic review is very much about appearance, but that is not the case here.
      As for the blocking of sidewalks and hydrants, etc, that is not a zoning issue either, but I am sure the Fire Marshall (as noted above) and the Dept of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (the building permit people) would be interested. OP should call 311 about the hydrant.

  • If you’re concerned about the fire hydrant call the fire marshall. There is an inspector for each Ward. Or you can try the local fire department.

  • Based on these pics, it’s way too early to complain about this home’s renovation. Just because a house is 115 years old doesn’t mean all changes to the exterior (even adding a floor) are bad. This is just a knee-jerk reaction to anything that could be called a pop-up.

  • You should email Chief Lanier and your council member about the hydrant. That’s a completely unacceptable response to a legitimate safety concern. When you say you contacted the police and they laughed it off, did you call 911? Unfortunately, that’s the jurisdiction of the Office of Unified Communications. An outfit that already has blood on its hands from their pisspoor job getting cops and fire personnel where they’re needed. It’s a joke of an outfit, and firemen I know absolutely hate it.

  • Lumber blocking the fire hydrant? That means free lumber for the community. First come first serve. Do your part to reduce neighborhood hazards.

  • Looks really ugly

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