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605 Florida Ave, NW- Owner’s Perspective

Back in mid-March the “easygard house” at 605 Florida Ave, NW in Ledroit Park was nominated for a horse’s ass award. Following is an email from the owner’s son providing a different perspective:

“I am the son of the owner of 605 Florida Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 2001. Since you ran a story regarding my mother’s property in March 2010, I would like the opportunity to respond.

My family has owned 605 Florida Avenue N.W. Washington, D.C. 2001 since 1987 — 22 years. There is still a mortgage on the property. My parents purchased the property with the goal of one day making it into their office. During the drug laden 1980s and 1990s, when very few of the individuals–who are now so interested in DC properties–would invest in the area, my parents bought the house from the descendants of the family who built the house — the Lynches. It had been on the market for more than a year. Back then, they rented the house to college students. College students can be difficult tenants and sometimes, indifferent to old properties and destructive. My father took over as his office, after retiring from the District Government in 1991. He worked on many notable projects as an architect public and private, including what was then-the new Dunbar High School and Howard University’s Law School Library.

Nevertheless, my father got sick, lung and throat cancer. He underwent a operation in 1998 and died in 2002. I had personally begun working in 2000 while he was sick. I am a lawyer by training; however, my father was and mother were both architects. My father was raised by this grandfather a carpenter, he could be build decks, etc., and I am a reasonable hack and can frame.

Continues after the jump.

Still, my mom drafted the plans for a basement apartment. I worked the permit through the D.C.’s office, and I concentrated on the basement. Working in the evenings and on the weekends, I gutted it, I did the framing, I brought in Barry Plumbing in December 2002/2003 to upgrade the radiator system and to improve the work supply and waste system throughout the house. A Judge Advocate General reservist in the Army, I was involuntary mobilized to Ft. Stewart, GA in April 2003. 2004. I hired Springfield Roofing to redo the tin roof in the Spring 2004 when I returned. I hired an electrician friend to upgrade the old 90 amperes to 200 volts. I hung drywall, laid tile, install all ceiling fans, install every appliance and fixtures, dishwasher, stove, kitchen sink, basin, ball and crawl tub, garbage disposal, sump pump! By the summer of 2005, I was finally done, I rented the basement to a nice couple who say about a year before moving out, it flooded terribly in the Summer 2006 and I helped the move and upgrade the sump. I even saved the original windows and had re-glazed them where need in the front part of the house. I rented it the basement to students figuring it would not flood in winter.

The day the property was hit November 12, 2006, the driver knock out two windows on the first floor and a good part of the wall. Still, the entire second floor was still intact. Albeit, there was a cracked in the wall. I pleaded with the inspector on site, NOT to tear down the house. Nevertheless, the city tore it down the façade and turret next day before 11:00 am. I believe it was arguably in violation of its own historic preservation statutes. One commentator noted that historic preservation guidelines should keep it from being torn down; it did not stop them before!

In March 2010, one commentator, stated it was such as “a sweet property.” That is the part of our problem. It was and still is a “sweet property.” Some people don’t really want to see us fix it. They want to see us sell it! A lot of people want it! To be blunt, our insurance company, affiliated with the mortgage company did not even cut us the first check until November 2007 — approximately a year after it was hit. Perhaps they were hoping it would foreclose before they had to pay. Still, we had a contract in place for the restoration of the entire wall and turret in July 2007, with a Cory Jones of First Choice Masonry. In August 2007, I had deployed to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. Because our insurance did not even cut the first check until November 2007 (winter); we did not commence the job until April 2008. While Mr. Jones framed up the house, after accepting the second payment, he promptly walked off the job! He just walked off the job and took our electric generator with him!

Another commentator incorrectly suggested that a stop work permit may have been issued regarding this property. That is incorrect. A stop work notice was never issued on 605 Florida Avenue, NW. Likewise, we did not instruct Mr. Jones to do anything short of put it back like it had been built! He subbed the job and simply walked off! In fact, the house has a valid building permit up right now! We have paid the vacancy taxes — though onerous, and we still hope to repair the house! We currently have two bids pending; hopefully, one of them will work out and we will be able to bring back some of 605 Florida Avenue NW’s former glory, God willing!

Now, a few finally comments from this Soldier, and if you are truly brave enough, you will publish this story with all of the attached pictures. I believe the pictures tell the truest story! Indeed, there are two pictures: “Car hits 605 Florida – Full view of intact second floor”, and one that I’ve called “only turret remains at a distance.” Publish the pictures and ask yourself and your readers these questions. Why did the city tear down the second floor, instead of shoring it up? Why would the city tear that turret down?

Mr. Jesus Flores-Cardenas killed two people — Simon Asfaha and Yonas Gebrehi — before hitting the house. I believe he received two consecutive sentences (not concurrent) for 38 months for involuntary manslaughter or a total of 72 months.

Finally, in 2006, Mr. Flores-Cardenas was driving a recently purchased 2004 SUV, with an air bag and seat belts. There was no evidence in the police report regarding his blood/alcohol level, and there was also was no evidence of drug use.”

Pre crash Photo

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