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Raze Application Permit Posted at Brass Knob Warehouse

by Prince Of Petworth — January 17, 2013 at 4:00 pm 18 Comments

Dear PoPville,

Remember the former Brass Knob warehouse on N street NW in Truxton Circle? It still has signs advertising the space for lease, but I noticed in the window an application for a raze permit (attached). I found more details on the Office of Planning’s website, on the 3rd page here. That application was dated January 8, 2013. What’s interesting is that in OP’s Historic Preservation office, there’s an application for the same property, for a Historic Landmark Designation, dated January 11, 2013. Apparently the warehouse is Chapman Stables, built in 1890. I’m wondering what’s going to happen now. The owner must think the property is more valuable as an empty lot…

We last spoke about the former Brass Knob Warehouse back in April when I heard it sold for $4 million.

57 N St, NW

  • So…Friendship Heights works to designate the bus garage (built in the 1960s) as historic to limit redevelopment but this much more historic and significant building may be torn down?
    This could be redeveloped into cool lofts/condos – keep the facade and add a few stories on top.

  • Charles

    We’ve already got a perfectly serviceable trashy empty lot a block away on Hanover Place. It’s been here for over three years without development.

  • very depressing.

  • bb

    The historic justification seems quite thin: “might well be the largest remaining stable-to-garage conversion in the city.”

  • anon

    can anyone submit the historical preservation application?

    • Rebecca

      Anon – nomination was filed on these properties prior to raze notification.

      • Mike

        It was actually submitted by the DC Preservation League. There information is about halfway through the submission form.

  • Anonymous

    Building is awesome — hope by “raze” they don’t mean total demolition. It’s an awesome space … alas no longer Brass Knob

  • Anonymous

    oh boy, Steve May is involved. He’s done great work on the firehouse on North Cap!

  • ShawGuy

    It really would be a shame for this building to be torn down – 120 year old history should not be demolished lightly.

    That being said, it has been vacant for some time, which means it may be eligible for the much higher vacant / blighted tax soon. It’s already taxed, according to the DC Tax website, at $32,336 a year (and it was most recently sold for $5,000,000 on Nov 2, 2012). Taxing it as vacant land is a LOT cheaper. So, often a developer will choose to raze rather than preserve because it’s easier to build from scratch anyway than to retrofit a historic building to a modern use, and it’s cheaper to sit on vacant land than an empty building in the meantime. Plus, you can always use it as ugly surface parking and get some revenue out of it while you wait to develop.

    Am I the only one who thinks that developers shouldn’t be *rewarded* in the tax code for tearing down vacant buildings? The tax site says the lot is 12,592 sqft, and the building takes up 100% of the lot size on two floors. So, it’s about 25,000 sqft. How about a “raze fee” of 25 cents per square foot for any building over 50 years old, with an extra 25 cents per foot per decade over 50 years? On this building, that would be $1.75 per foot, or about $44,000. Maybe an extra dollar a foot for buildings over 100 years old?

    Or maybe just a change in the tax code that says that your taxes will continue to be assessed on the building that *used* to be on the lot until it gets redeveloped, to eliminate the savings of demolition?

    • MotorMary

      The building was only vacant once sold. I worked there for a time at a fabricator shop and also at a architectural design firm. People once lived and thrived there (and I’m talking less than 5 years ago). It’s a shame to have lost such a valuable working/living/contributing space in the city.

    • Anonymous

      Steve May is incredibly good at making dilapidated properties even worse.

  • AC


  • Anon X

    You have to wonder, since none of May’s projects seem to be making money, where does he get all this money to buy more stuff and screw it up?

    he may not be razing the entire thing. you need a raze permit to tear anything up.

  • pierre

    This one has a lot of possibilities for adaptive reuse.

  • Anonymous

    Gosh..such a pretty building. Hope they don’t tear it down.

    • ag

      I used to live in one of the houses directly across the street, when it was still a Brass Knob warehouse. It was not a pretty building at all and they didn’t maintain it. I hated seeing the facade every time I looked out my front window, although it was often entertaining to see what people carried out of the Brass Knob and loaded into their cars. A lot of really nice people live on that block. For their sake, I hope something good happens with this building.

  • Vintage Lover

    I have been dreaming of finding investors to save this building and turn it into an event space and artisan shops. The old paned windows lining the inside front portion are amazing and it is home to DC’s first freight elevator. It would be an absolute shame to raze this property. These old buildings are the soul of our city and I’d love to figure out a way to save it.

    Any investors out there who want to help rescue this space?

    I heard that the owner of Shaw Tavern is the new owner of the building…


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