Monsignor Romero Building Breaking Ground This Spring to Open in Mt. Pleasant “12-15 months after groundbreaking”

by Prince Of Petworth February 27, 2013 at 4:00 pm 40 Comments

3145 Mt Pleasant Street, NW

In Sept. 2012 we heard the former Deauville building gutted by fire back in 2008 would break ground in March 2013 and reopen as the Monsignor Romero building. CM Jim Graham updates:

Dear Friends: The attorney for this building at 3145 Mt Pleasant advises that —“groundbreaking for the new building will take place this spring, and that it will be open for move-ins/occupancy within 12-15 months after groundbreaking.”

Thus a new beginning is in sight for a building that was ravaged by a FIVE ALARM fire, one of the very few in DC history.

We have also kept the promise for an all affordable building in Mt. Pleasant, where housing values are escalating daily.

  • Carrie

    I am so excited for this. In 2 weeks it will be 5 years since the building burned down. It will be so good for Mt. Pleasant and for the residents for this building to be rebuilt and occupied once more.

    • Anonymous

      Well, I suppose that anything is better than a charred crater.

      • Carrie

        Well sure, there’s that, but also 200 people lived in the building and spent money on Mt. Pleasant St. (I know, I was one of them). Most residents weren’t able to find housing in Mt. Pleasant, so that was a huge loss to the businesses on that street. To have that space once again be occupied can only be good for the neighborhood.

        • Anonymous

          Have you had your rent subsidized by taxpayers for 5 years?

          • the totten.

            I’ll go ahead and answer on behalf of my wife:

            No, actually, we haven’t had our rent subsidized by taxpayers for 5 years after losing our home and all of our possessions to this fire. however we have had our mortgage subsidized by taxpayers (interest deduction!) for the last 5 years (and to continue indefinitely) as a result of the house we bought soon after…

            thanks for your concern.

          • Anonymous

            Thank you, the totten, for pointing out that the mortgage interest deduction is indeed a MASSIVE subsidy from the government (the third largest tax expenditure on the federal budget, according to a Congressional Research Service report, in fact). Unless a homeowner is nobly declining to take the interest deduction on their Schedule A, they should take a good look in the mirror before criticizing the unworthiness of housing subsidies for others. I’m not arguing that the mortgage interest deduction is wrong or that it shouldn’t exist (although I think there should be more debate about that), just that I hear many people try to argue that *they* somehow “deserve” that subsidy, while no one else getting any other kind of affordable housing assistance deserves theirs. (This is speaking generally to the issue, not to the particulars of the Deauville’s situation, which does seem to have been plagued by delays–but as other commenters have pointed out, also seems to be more the fault of city bureaucracy, not the tenants.)

          • Anonymous

            What on Earth does the mortgage interest deduction have to do with this? You people can’t stop talking about it, can you?

            The issue here concerns a rent subsidy for a handful of people. It is a handout for 200 people, not a national policy. Geez.

  • Excellent news!

  • I really hope they stick to the promise for affordable housing there, I can’t believe it’s taken 5 years just to sort this whole thing out.

    • Anonymous

      A massive waste of public money

    • Anonymous

      Why? The former tenants — whose numbers have never really been verified — have been receiving _very_ affordable housing all this time.

      • Anonymous

        Are you suggesting that this is an effective way to make housing affordable? We’ve spent more than $2m over five years on just 200 people. These were ordinary renters — not public housing tenants.

  • Tim

    Will this be a completely new building? Will they reuse the facade? Can they?

  • About time!

  • home owner

    what does “affordable” mean?

    • Mt. P Resident

      Studios that go for $1600/month. With granite counter tops and recycled wood floors. Because everyone wants and can afford that these days.

  • Anonymous

    Hooray for the Deauville’s 200 former tenants. And hooray for the city’s taxpayers, who after 12-15 months will end 6+ years of rent subsidies for the Deauville tenants.

  • TJ

    Uncharitably, I love the burnt-out crater. Especially when the sun is going down and it shines through the window-holes and hits the young trees growing in said crater and sets the piles of brick aglow. I still remember the first time I saw it, the feeling of amazement realizing there was absolutely nothing behind the facade and wondering if it was a trick of the light.

    [but of course, I’m happy for a renewed streetscape and more affordable housing in Mt. P]

    • Anony

      Sure, because everyone loves a daily reminder of the bondoggle that is DC politics that took 5 years to replace this building. Or that lots of people lost their homes to a massive fire. Warms my heart every day as I walk to work.

  • Anonymous

    I’m glad the city helped the former Deauville tenants after the fire, but it is shocking that those renters have received many hundreds of thousands in rent subsidies for FIVE years. Many of them have now been living elsewhere, with public subsidies, for less time than they had lived in the Deauville. And in addition to the subsidies, they received millions of dollars in city loans to purchase the building. Given that the loan was made over two years ago, I wonder how it can possibly be repaid without charging market rate to the new tenants?

    By now, the former tenants of the Deauville have scattered to many neighborhoods where they have rebuilt their lives. Although Mt. Pleasant has seen an influx of professionals in recent years, there remains an abundance of low-income housing on and near Mt. Pleasant Street. The St Dennis — which had been largely abandoned at the time of the Deauville fire — is now fully renovated and is being leased as low-income housing. Only one building on Mt. Pleasant Street has been developed as market-rate condos (The Mount Pleasant).

    Neighborhoods change, and it’s wasteful and wrong for the city to try to preserve their ethnic or economic demographics. By pandering to a specific community, the city has not just held back redevelopment of the Deauville site and harmed the overall economic welfare of Mt. Pleasant. It has also diverted significant public resources from more efficient affordable-housing programs.

  • Anonymous

    Rescind the city loan for the low-income housing redevelopment. The tenants have already gained more than $2 million in rent subsidies that other low-income tenants never got. How is that fair? They can pursue the same options available to everyone else.

    Sell the site for its highest economic use, then use the proceeds for efficient and fair affordable-housing programs.

    • It’s not the tenants’ fault the city waited five years to rebuild. Shortly after this fire, Eastern Market and the Georgetown Branch Library burned. Those structures were rebuilt toute-de-suite.

      • I mean, shortly before. Said structures burned in 2007.

      • Its also not the cities fault that the building burned.

  • Does anyone actually know the facts of this new “rebuilding?” How much money? From where? What happened to the original owner? The building was not originally owned by the city but by a private person/company. I have tried to follow the long tangled history, but it is frankly, too long and tangled. I support smart development of “affordable housing” but think this doesn’t seem all that smart. And from the beginning, it has reeked of boondoggle.

  • regardless of how anyone feels about the politics behind this site, it’s fantastic news for the neighborhood to hear this won’t be a burnt out shell anymore!

    • Anonymous

      A low standard. Sad.

  • Dan

    It’s about time! Wondering what was going to happen.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll believe it when I see it. Jim Graham always makes promises about this building when he’s in trouble.

    • Annony

      Haha – how true!

  • Anonymous

    I hope this doesn’t mean more people loitering in front of the mount p 7-11

    • Anonymous



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