Horses Ass Award Nominee – 431 Quincy St NW

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“Dear PoPville,

This house at 431 Quincy St NW is an abandoned property, purchased by a developer, gutted, and received a stop-work order for an illegal pop-up.

There has been no work on the house for over a year. The blue construction tarp at the top of the building ripped and has been littering the entire block for months. Strips of blue plastic tarp are entangled in bushes, gardens, and trees. I have found bits on my porch and inside my house. It is everywhere, and it continues down the block and around the corner onto Rock Creek Church Road (see my attached pictures). No doubt, the plastic is making its way into the Anacostia. There are also mounds of excavated debris that wash across the sidewalk with every rain.

A vacancy notice is posted on the property, but it is not currently listed on the city’s vacant property list or the blighted property list. The completely gutted house is listed for sale on Redfin as a 6 bedroom, 4 bath house with gourmet kitchen for $750,000.

We’ve contacted our Council Member (Brandon Todd) and DCRA about the property and have received emails that DCRA would deliver a notice to abate the construction debris, but we’ve seen no movement on the property while the problem continues to worsen. I’ve even written back and forth with the listing agent at Re/Max to no avail.

At a minimum, the owners need to clean up the mess created by the construction debris.”

Yesterday on the Petworth Listserv a neighbor wrote:

“For the last year, me and my neighbors have been dealing with the after-effects and continual problems associated with a rogue developer and illegal construction on our block (431 Quincy Street NW). The short and sweet – a developer came in and essentially tore down a house in the middle of our “row” and erected the shell of a “pop up” without any the proper permits or procedures, continued construction after one stop work permit, and was finally shut down after a second stop work order. The property has now sat vacant for more than a year (it is listed for sale) and has caused significant damage to both bordering houses. Because of an annoying little loophole, the vacant tax rates don’t apply to the property because it has “active permits.” DCRA has been wholly unhelpful and unresponsive.

Council-member Todd and Orange are both aware of the property and Dolly Turner (Deputy Chief of Staff) from Todd’s office has asked that I develop a list of other problem properties in the area.

If you are aware of other properties in Ward 4 that should be included in this roundup of trouble properties (i.e. illegal construction or vacant, deteriorating structures) please email me with the address of the property and a brief paragraph description of the problems. I will consolidate and work with Todd’s office to address.”

41 Comment

  • Wait… the councilmember’s response to your complaint of a problem house was a directive to compile a list of MORE problem houses?? Howsabout they fix the one, then we’ll talk about the others, hm? What do these people actually DO?

  • 3812 8th St NW is vacant, in disrepair, and has been listed as “Pending (Contract)” on Redfin since December 2013.

  • Well guess this is one of the downsides to reporting illegal construction etc. These properties then sit vacant and unfinished for months on end leave. Damn if you do damn if you don’t.

  • This house is a blight on the neighborhood. It should be condemned and resold quickly so a developer can fix it up.

    Best of luck to the neighbors.

  • Two houses on Princeton Pl NW have half completed pop-ups and have not been touched since summer 2015 to my knowledge.

    • 733 Princeton Pl., NW was just purchased by a new developer and renovation has begun anew. 729 Princeton remains an eyesore. Both properties are in Ward 1.

    • Construction recently (within the past month) resumed on those houses, thank goodness.

    • 729 Princeton illegally constructed a pop-up with a permit for “interior renovation” only.
      .
      I hope the developer is made to remove the pop-up — if DCRA lets them squeeze by, then future developers might follow their lead on the “asking for forgiveness rather than permission” front.

  • Too many people got into the real estate business thinking that it was an easy way to make money. This is likely a prime example.

  • Maybe add Elissa Silverman to the list of council contacts. She’s at large and on the Housing committee.

    I just looked at the listing and thought about throwing the terms “real estate fraud” at RE/Max, and then I thought yeah, you’re screwed. The only thing that might help is to hunt down people (councilmembers, DCRA, re/max) and stare at them face to face until you get something verbally and in writing, including a resolution date. If they don’t go for that, ask for a supervisor. Don’t use email for this, and definitely not phone calls since there is no paper trail.

    That’s a lot of your time to give on something that’s not your responsibility, but that house looks like it’s going to collapse if this picture is anything to go on.

    • Second this. You need to go down to DCRA and start knocking on doors until you find someone to help you. It’s too easy to ignore emails and calls.

      Annoying – but the persistent squeaky wheel will eventually get the grease.

  • If we’re posting one comment from the listserv, why not also post the response?

    “Thanks for raising this issue and for volunteering to help coordinate with the vacant building list. 929 Farragut street is in the third year of using its building permit loophole – a move that saved the developer/owner approximately $50,000 while causing no end of frustration for neighbors.

    Those interested in this issue should know that Councilmember Silverman has worked hard to close this loophole – and fix other problems wiith DCRAs Vacant Building Enforcement Unit. She’s introduced two pieces of legislation that would eliminate the loophole and make other changes, many of which are outlined in the 10 fixes to DCRA that I suggested in the attached document.

    You can read more CM Silverman’s bills, which now have 10 co-signers in City Council, here.
    CM Vincent Orange has oversight for the committee that should hold a hearing and bring this issue to a vote.
    Unfortunately, he has so far not done so. I asked him to at the City Council Oversight Committee on DCRA, and he did not address my request. His staff has attended our ANC meetings and when called out on the matter we were told “he’s in meetings to discuss this,” which I hope does NOT mean that he’s allowing developers to guide his hand. I’ve requested meetings with his staff, and get no response.

    Councilmember Orange is up for re-election. If you are frustrated with this issue, want to see the loophole and other fixes made, PLEASE contact his Chief of Staff James D Brown at [email protected] or write to CM Orange at [email protected].

    Let them know you care about this issue and will watch to see what he does before you decide for whom you will vote in June when his seat comes up for election.”

    • What a shame that Councilmember Silverman introduced this great bill, only for Councilmember Orange to stymie it. 🙁

  • Probably a bit of a non sequitor here, but has anyone got any info on the house at the corner of 7th and S that is falling into itself and has a fence around it? Not to mention the pop-up at 7th and Florida right next to the Condos and Shaws Tavern?

  • 4512 9th Street NW has been a plywood shell for years. Nothing seems to be being done about it. You can see it deteriorate in the google street view since 2009 and it’s far worse now than the most recent picture.

    • The backstory is that the owners got a permit to shore up the porch, then proceeded to do the work of converting it into 3 units. The city put a stop to the work beyond the scope of the permit, but I think that there’s still at least some original walls underneath the plywood (and rapidly-disappearing Tyvek), which means that it isn’t as close to falling down as you’d guess looking at the outside. I know I saw evidence that it was inhabited (people going in & out, lights on) a year or so ago–haven’t noticed recently.

      • Exactly the type of property that should be added to this list.
        .
        Although as a side note, since most of the neighborhood is row houses, it’s pretty absurd that a lot this big can’t be converted to three units.

  • The owners live in Ft Washington. You could go drop the tarp off at their house…

  • I walk by this house every day and I would be horrified to live next door. The whole foundation is dug out and I’m afraid the whole thing is going to come crashing down and take the neighbors’ walls with it. I wish the city could just seize a property like this or put a lien against it so large the owners basically have to forfeit it.

  • Ugh, I live on this block and that property is a mess. The amount of blue plastic around the neighborhood is insane, especially after windy days like we’ve had lately. I really feel for the immediate neighbors that bear the brunt of this, but the house is also wreaking havoc on the rest of the houses on the block and even on Rock Creek Church. Just taking the tarp down would prevent any MORE plastic from littering the neighborhood, but doesn’t help remove the massive amounts already strewn about. PLEASE DO SOMETHING CM TODD!

  • Not ward 4 but 3031 7th St NE. Been in a similar state to this one for years. Fences collapsing all over the sidewalk and everything.

  • There is a similar house next door to me. What I don’t understand about the vacant property rules is that the tax sale rules appear to require any purchaser of the property to pay ultimately pay all past property taxes. Thus, if a property is vacant or derelict for long enough and accrues 5x or 10x property taxes, the property tax obligation could exceed the value of the home given the condition. The property next to me is a falling down shell that has not been occupied for years and has nearly 400k in back taxes (incidentally it is no longer listed as vacant as of this year for property tax purposes for some reason) This seems like it creates orphan properties that neither the owner or the developer would benefit from selling/purchasing. Is this correct? Why would DC not offer a discount on past property taxes in order to spur redevelopment?

  • Hopefully the current owner of 431 Quincy will sell to someone more responsible and cut their losses….

  • HOLY CRAP! I lived on this street from July 2013 to August of 2015…and this house sat in the same, sorry state that entire time. I can’t believe it’s still like this. What a shame for this otherwise nice neighborhood.

  • Vincent Orange has had oversight of DCRA for years and the problems just get worse and worse. He sits on perfectly good legislation that would fix these problems while he takes in corporate donations without hesitation. Send a message with your vote, if you want to see vacant building enforcement reform.

  • For some time the same person that owns 431 Quincy also owned (or still does) 729/733 Princeton.

  • 615 and 523 Kennedy both have exposed pop ups that have been uncovered, and without progress, for a minute. Not sure exactly how long, but a minute.

  • Just got this message from DCRA! Hopefully something actually happens soon!

    “As a result of an inspection, DCRA determined that multiple DC Construction Code violations exist at the property. On March 30, 2016, the emergency Order of Correction was posted at 431 Quincy Street, NW and served on the Owner. This Order requires the owner to abate the following defects by April 1, 2016:

    1: Unsupported excavation at the front and rear exterior of the building;
    2: Rear fence structurally unsound;
    3: Roof missing weatherproofing membrane to provide protection from weather. Downspout not connected properly;
    4: Open and accessible entry points at the front and rear of the property;
    5: Trip and fall hazards located in the rear exterior;
    6: Front and Rear does not have the proper grading, and
    7: Trash and debris located at the rear exterior of the property.

    If the Owner fails to abate the conditions BY April 1, 2016, DCRA is authorized to abate the most hazardous conditions in lieu of the Owner of Record making the corrections. DCRA Enforcement has a general contractor under contract who is providing a bid to perform the repair work. Please look for work to begin to stabilize and secure the current conditions at the site as soon as possible.

    Regarding your inquiry on the status of the building in the DCRA Vacant Building Enforcement. The previous construction exemption has been removed due to the owner’s continuous violation of the approved permits. The property was designated as vacant and a request for re-classification was sent to the Office of Tax and Revenue.”

  • DCRA PROTECTION NOW
    We demand Protection for D.C. Residents from the D.C. Regulatory Agency (DCRA) and Developers

    You and your home are under siege by developers who are building out (Popbacks) and up (Popups) beside your property without abiding by the DCRA Construction Codes and Rules. DCRA appears to be in bed with the developers which means DCRA is not willing to go against rogue developers to protect D.C. residents. So if you or someone in your D.C. neighborhood has a developer building next door to your house you must:

    1. Arm yourself with the ugly facts of life here in D.C.
    2. Fight or Flight from your community (Can you even afford to leave D.C.?)
    3. Stop voting for elected people who are putting developers interest before yours
    4. Discover what the really ugly truth is about all this ill planned residential development in D.C.
    5. Share your stories.

    COME TO these Urgent Upcoming Meetings: (Please bring some neighbors with you too)
    Held at: Northeast Library 330 – 7th St., NE. D.C. 20002 Mezzanine Conference Room 2nd floor

    • Saturday, May 14, 2016 from 1:00 P.M. to 3: 00 p.m.
    • Saturday, June 11, 2016 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
    • Saturday, July 9, 2016 from 1: 00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
    Contact: Tolu2 (202) 331-4418
    [email protected]

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