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Worst Pop Up Ever?

by Prince Of Petworth February 4, 2008 at 12:03 am 26 Comments

PopUp, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

Thanks to a reader for sending me this photo. It is truly vomit inducing. Rumor has it, the unit on the end lit itself on fire it was so distressed.  It makes the pop up at New Hampshire and Upshur look classy. So explain to me how this gets zoned. This is from P Street just across North Capitol.

  • wow, crap, you beat me to it. i was going to follow up my post on this (here). guess i still will, but you broke the news… :)

  • GforGood

    Woah.. but actually that’s so bad that is almost turning to good again.. so over the top, literally.. ghetto skyskaper chic.. ;) :D

  • Toby

    I agree, it’s truly vomitous and the one at NH and Upshur looks tasteful by comparison.

  • Anonymous

    I can only hope that DCRA Zoning didn’t approve this. If it isn’t permitted, it should be removed.

  • Fonzy

    Jesus, save us!

  • Matt

    Most residential zoning (I believe) only allows four floors. This is usually 3 + basement. I guess if you have no basement, you might be able to do 4 above grade. DCRA should definitely check it out…

  • DCer

    That is really, truly the worst pop-up ever.

    By the way, what are people paying for pop-ups?

  • chris

    the owner of this abortion is deserves to be ordered to tear it down AND be fined. plus, i’d add the ‘architect’ to the complaint and fine him, too. prince, do you think you can follow the history of what happens here for us readers? it has relevance to the petworth neighborhood to the extent jack*ss homeowners like this one in petworth try to emulate him….

    p.s. query whether the owner has some kind of freudian ‘size’ issue going on with himself, if you know what i mean.

  • Judging by the state of that row of houses, I doubt we’ll be looking at that for long. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but is that pop-up even from within the last 20 years? I’d be surprised that anyone would build an addition like that in that neighborhood right now, what with all the vacant housing around.

  • TheNeighbor

    my eyes are bleeding……..

  • RandomReader

    Whew…That is just nasty! There is no way to justify that abomination. It looks terrible, and it likely won’t improve the value of the property, so what was the point?! That has to be the WORST thing I have seen on this blog, but thank you for bringing it to our attentions. Egad!

  • Steve

    Don’t they have to have plans stamped by an enigeer to get permits for these things? If not that is scary. If so, I the engineer’s license may be in jeopardy.

  • Flipflopirate

    ugly as it is, i’ll commend them for building up not out, there was a post just days ago where people on here wanted to crucify some poor homeowner for building trashcan cabinets… not that petworth is exactly the greenest neighborhood outh there but when people expand onto their front lawn, back “patch”, or anywhere else the entire neighborhood loses a tree, a bush, or a brave and noble lawn gnome.

  • eric

    hard to imagine that thing would be very sturdy in a high wind like hurricane isabel a few years back.

  • Anonymous

    For those who oppose the concept of historic districts, this is what you get.

    Worst. Renovation. Ever.

  • Parkwood Person

    That’s just nuts. It does kind of remind me of some whimsical Dr. Seuss illustration of Who-ville though, but that’s probably no consolidation to people who live in the neighborhood.

  • consumer

    I think it’s awesome– in fact i think the entire row should follow this example and build pop-ups of thier own. it would be revolutionary

  • Anonymous

    looking at the photo again, it does kinda look like there is a white piece of paper taped in their front window — building permit?

  • Tim

    nice… and ugly. nice and ugly.

  • pfish

    That CAN’T have the necessary permits. Look at the house next door w/ the exact same profile – it has an English basement. That means this owner is going for 5 floors – 4 up and 1 down. A call needs to be made to DCRA, this abomination ought to be torn down and the owner should be fined.

  • P Street resident

    This property is on the unit block of P Street, NE and it is zoned CM1 I believe, which allows for higher elevations and broader commercial uses than C2A, which is the most common commercial zoning in Shaw (along Florida Avenue, for example). I don’t know for sure, but I would imagine that the owner has the option of building up this way as a matter of right, so a call to DCRA may not yield any relief. Only a change in zoning and historic designation or a greater affinity for style on the part of the owner could have kept this from happening. No doubt it was less expensive to do yellow siding that something in keeping with the row house below the addition. Until this area is designated an historic district, these pop-ups will keep going up in places. Many people oppose historic designation because it adds costs to renovations and creates a layer of bureaucracy and gives too much control over private property to the HPRB. Perhaps the city needs to designate a city-wide historic district, bring the control over properties into DCRA itself, and get rid of the HPRB, or somehow make it more consistent as to what is allowed and what isn’t and or give long-time/low-income residents tax breaks/credits if they need to make repairs of a certain type (windows, etc.) so that opposition to historic districts can be overcome more quickly, instead of waiting until gentrification turns the tide.

  • Kathy Henderson

    Hello All:

    This is truly the ugliest collection of construction materials I have ever had the misfortune of viewing. This hideous structure could never have been approved in an historic district. One of the main benefits of historic designation after preserving the structure(s) is review of any proposed additions. I consider Historic Preservation Review as a refinement process. Applicants are usually able to get approval for additions but within guidelines that ensure the structure will be appropriate for the area and aesthetically pleasing.

    If you want to know more about the historic preservation process I encourage you to request a presentation at your next community meeting; call the office at (202) 442-8800.


    Kathy Henderson

  • geep

    There actually is a structural code that basically states that if a new building or addition is constructed adjacent to an existing building and is taller than the adjacent buildings, the owner of the new building must make sure that the roof structures of the adjacent building are capable of handling the added snow load. The additional snow load comes from the drifting of snow up against the vertical wall of the new building. Make sense? Essentially, none of the roofs on DC rowhouses are strong enough to carry any additional snow load – especially a huge drift. If this were enforced, developers would have to pay to beef up the neighboring roofs and I don’t know many homeowners that would allow that. There are some conditions to the code, however.

    I have pointed this out to Linda Argo, Acting Director of DCRA, as an attempt for the structural engineers at DCRA to try to help stop these pop-ups, or at least make it more difficult. Her reaction = there’s no such code!

    My office is having to to hire an engineer for a beefed-up roof design for a project we are working on where our building is taller than the neighbors so this code does exist. I just don’t think many people are aware of it.

    To everyone who lives next to a pop-up – You may want to have a structural engineer give you a consult to check out your roof framing. There are some particulars about the code that I didn’t get into and it’s further complicated by the fact that there are different rules between the residential code and the commercial code. Good luck!

  • Steve Rynecki

    I’m heartened to see so much opposition to this truly hideous addition. I reference this property in the next edition of DC North (February). It’s this kind of abusive disregard for historic design and overall lack of standards at DCRA that has people hopping mad. Historic Designation for the remaining properties is an option. I encourage folks to contact the DC Historic Preservation League and explore next steps for the remaining structures and the neighborhood as whole. DCRA is probably saying any development is better than no development on that part of the block. Pressure from the New York Ave. metro will cause more unsightly alterations so be prepared for many more of these.

    DCPL contact: http://www.dcpreservation.org/contact.html

  • Thomas

    No, it’s not the best pop-up possible. But as Flipflopirate says, building up should always get priority. Huge swaths of DC should have apartment/condominium buildings allowed where now only rowhouses or single-family homes are zoned because then maybe we could actually get the density in the city up. When there are over five million people in the metropolitan area, and fewer than 600,000 (!) of them in the actual city, something is wrong. Don’t we want the city to become truly walkable, where public transportation is really an option for most people, where cars are just a nuisance? We need more people, fewer surface parking lots (preferably none), and a serious commitment to public transportation, including rail expansion and bus-only lanes on streets. Until then, I don’t think persecuting the owner of this rowhouse makes sense, especially if he or she ends up moving to Virginia.

  • Flipflopirate



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