We’ve Seen the Pop Up and Pop Back – Introducing the Pop Forward!

700 block of Irving St, NW near Georgia Avenue

“Dear PoPville,

I thought that this was interesting. I’ve seen a lot of pop-up and additions in the back but, never an addition/extension like this going right out to the sidewalk. I guess the 70/30 rule for structures on a lot is really gone. I wouldn’t be terribly happy if I was the next door neighbor. House is at Georgia and Irving Streets NW.”


60 Comment

  • Several of these exist on Georgia (although in commercial zones).

  • Oh nooooo. That is terrible. Usually I like to give things a chance and wait until they’re done, but I cannot imagine anything good coming out of this.

  • It may be strange seeing it on a residential property, but a lot of the commercial buildings on nearby GA Ave have done this.
    Might be worth investigating to see if this violates some kind of building restriction line.

  • Wow, this truly earns the title of a “spite pop”
    Fugly x 1,000

  • I wonder if this is a block of residential-looking houses that’s zoned commercial, like the strip of Ontario Road between Columbia Road and Lanier Place.
    If not, all I can guess is that they greased some palms and got a variance on lot coverage, or that they’re building illegally.

  • I am surprised the property line goes all the way to the sidewalk. that is unusual for many DC properties, at least closer to downtown. the majority of properties true properties start/end at the face of the building. For example, the bay windows/turrets on a lot of homes are not technically part of the property.

    • In this part of town, it really depends on the block. I own my yard out to the sidewalk. The houses around the corner from me don’t. From the zoning map, it looks like property lines on this block extend out to the sidewalk. The next block east, they don’t.

  • This is the same as 511 Kenyon Street development…

  • Ally

    It does seem like the kind of thing you’d want to discuss with your neighbors first. But, as an introvert, I could see some real positives to having a wall there — almost like a semi-detached house!

    • justinbc

      We have no way of knowing whether this was discussed with the neighbors or not. Quite often with these types of things there are those big orange PUBLIC NOTICE signs detailing a meeting time, and people can choose to show up or not.

  • Here’s the Zoning Administrator’s explanation for what this is within the zoning regulations, including site plans, photos, and math.


    • Thanks, that helps a lot. It seems like this will be similar to the new buildings on the deep lots where Lamont/Kenyon/Warder meet.

    • So this is a Pop-Forward, Pop-Up and Pop-Back. Wow…

    • ah

      Unless DCRA’s guy is wrong, you have to give some credit to the developer for figuring out how to build essentially a second house on the lot.

      Presumably after doing this one he’ll persuade each neighbor to sell so he can do theirs the same way.

    • So, in looking at the renderings, I don’t hate this at all. I would of course hate it if I lived directly next door. Then again, I’d probably just sell to another developer, cash out and go somewhere else.

      • you would most likely be selling at a reduced rate of what you would have received on the open market, because developer isn’t going to pay market rates and this house most likely just made the value of yours plummet.

    • ….and there goes the neighbor’s light and air, replaced by a cinder block wall. We experienced this in the form of a pop-back and pop-up in a historic district, so thankfully it was at least in the rear. We planted ivy which has mostly covered the cinder monstrosity.

    • In comparison to some of the other projects around the area, this appears like it will have great curb appeal when completed.

    • How odd to put the master suite on the second level and the deck on the third with two other bedrooms. Wouldn’t most people with kids consider that a safety concern? Otherwise this is a very clever developer.

      • justinbc

        “most people with kids”
        Don’t most people with safety concerns for kids move out to the suburbs anyway?

      • If you can lock the door to the deck so that young children can’t open it then I wouldn’t have a problem with it. And Justin, are you implying that most people who raise their kids in DC don’t have safety concerns? Like we just shrug our shoulders and let them play in traffic or mingle with the drug dealers? That seems a little, well, dumb.

        • justinbc

          “In a study titled “D.C. Parenthood: Who Stay And Who Leaves?”, two analysts in the CFO’s office conclude that tax filings do show that the post-child migration from the city does indeed happen, most often among middle-income families who have children under the age of 4.

          Looking at tax data from 2001 to 2012, analysts Ginger Moored and Lori Metcalf found that 80 percent of parents who had their first child between 2007 and 2011 stayed in the city for a year after their child was born, compared to 85 percent for other filers. But by the time their child turned 5, only 52 percent remained on tax records, compared to 60 percent for all other filers.”

          • The difference between “new parents” and “all other filers” is 5 percent for the one-year figure and 8 percent for the 5-year figure. A difference, but not exactly a huge difference.

          • Your quote does nothing to mitigate the idiocy of your statement. Instead of citing inapposite studies, why don’t you just own up to the fact that you wrote something dumb? Most parents are concerned about their kids’ safety, whether they live here or elsewhere. That’s obvious. Maybe you meant to say, “Don’t most people who could afford these places leave once they have kids?” but didn’t want to sound elitist? If that’s what you really meant, I have no idea if that’s the case.

  • gotryit

    Isn’t a pop-down a dig-out? People have been digging out basements for a while now. I feel like that was the big thing before pop-ups and pop-backs.
    (see the URL…)
    Now when we see the first side-pop…

  • justinbc

    Maybe it’s different there, but I’m pretty sure the ratio is actually supposed to be 60/40 now.

    • Interestingly, in my neighborhood, some lots are actually two legal separate lots (between the street and alley). The prior owner of my house sold the alley adjacent lot, which was 50% of the entire alley to street coverage (just before they foreclosed on her house) for a paltry sum. So effectively the house lost almost all of its backyard to the benefit of the neighbor who bought it and now owns it. I bought knowing it but out of curiosity on the lot/house ratio issue, did research and discovered this weird thing where the neighborhood lots were all actually two lots for each home. Somehow the city didn’t think the policy rationales for the house to lot occupancy rules mattered simply because they were two different lots and so my house was already well over the allowable occupancy for the single lot on which it stands. They let the prior owner sell off the back lot. Totally stupid.

  • It’s an optical illusion.

  • Also more commonly called: an addition.

  • The “connector” loophole, which allows two separate structures to count as one, is such BS.

    • Ahh.. I was wondering why a connector was needed since their are two separate units. Its not like anyone will be using it I do not think

  • justinbc

    This could be the entirety of the project. Walls seem to be pretty popular right now.

  • So not legal. One of the core elements of the L’Enfant plan is a standard facade line and it is still a basic DC standard.. There can not be a permit for that wall. As RR said, “Mr. Gorbachov tear down that wall.”

  • Uglier and more intrusive than a pop-up. This is why we shouldn’t have been so hostile to pop-ups.

  • maxwell smart

    Seeing the rendering from the DCRA determination… I don’t hate it. It would be much worse if it was mid-block.

    • Oh, don’t worry … it will be (mid-block) soon!

    • it’s plenty horrible right where it is

      to anyone defending this nonsense I’d invite you to live next door. Some people ought to try the golden rule instead of exploiting arcane zoning laws.

      • I have a pop-up directly across the street from my house and the two houses adjacent to mine have large extensions. Do I have enough pop-up points to qualify to have an opinion? I have absolutely no problem with this whatsoever.
        Not all of us get freaked out by living next to slightly different building types.

        • Ha! We all know you never understand the facts like a NIMBY until you agree with the NIMBY.

        • Yes!! You qualify for an opinion, and your politeness earns you the bonus Popsicle!! Or a popover if you have not yet had dinner. However, you are still one pop-down short of the necessary points for a pop tart.

  • I also like the rendering in the DCRA permit. I don’t think I’d mind this necessarily as a neighbor. It looks like the house had been allowed to fall into disrepair, so this investment will enhance curb appeal of the neighborhood. I also can attest that having your front porch blocked on one side by a house that extends further into the street is not necessarily a bad thing. This is the situation we have for our home (due to original construction, not an addition — houses were originally built such that our neighbor on one side extends about 15 feet further toward the street than ours.) It provides a measure of privacy and shade that I enjoy.

  • Brilliant ! if this project is by the same group that did something similar in the 500 block of Kenyon then it will be a welcomed addition – the Kenyon Street project was beautiful.

  • WHY is this allowed???

    • Because the neighborhood doesn’t have historic-district status, and because D.C. basically requires neighborhoods to _request_/petition to be designated as historic districts — it’s not a designation that D.C. can impose unilaterally.

  • I hate when people start “designing” like they know what they are doing … not everyone has an eye for aesthetic… such a shame

  • Everyone facing Bruce Monroe Park is going to suffer(?) when its replaced with the 90′ monstrosity.

  • at this point, it just seems like real estate developers are mocking us. “yes, we can literally do anything we want.”

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