• Anonymous

    Jesus H. Christ!

    So freakin’ ugly. I wonder if the city would conduct any wind tests on the building?

    • Byron

      I’m just gonna post this under the first comment, because too many people in this thread are mindlessly asking ‘HOW DID THIS GET APPROVED???/WHY ISN’T THE ANC STOPPING THIS/LET’S END ALL POP-UPS EVERYWHERE”

      Under the current law, it doesn’t need to meet any aesthetic criteria. It conforms to the zoning code and is not located into a historic district (where it would have to meet aesthetic criteria).

      Any really, why should it?

      It’s their property. It’s legal. The plans passed safety and architectural review. It’s urban property in an extreme desirable neighborhood. The question isn’t “look how ugly this one tall building is.”

      The real question is: “Why don’t those homeowners next door sell their cute little two story rowhouses to developers for triple what they paid so that an entire block of tallers buildings can be built again instead so that the city’s tax base can expand, more people can live here and make D.C. a vibrant and exciting place.”

      Oh, I know why. People don’t want to lose their parking spots.

      • Yep! Why don’ we just tear down all small houses that give this city character, charm and human scale and replace them with as many city block-sized brick and steel and glass high rises as possible. I keep reading posts urging density, density, density. If we create another bland high-rise city that looks like every other bland high-rise city in North America, then why come here when you can go somewhere else for the same blandness. A lot of us who choose to live here precisely because of the low-rise, medium-rise mix of a wide range of interesting architecture that permits us to appreciate lots of spreading trees and bigger sky overhead and more sunlight on the streets. This scale of this interesting cityscape adds a quality of life hard to find anywhere else in this country.

        • Byron

          I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but ugly glass high rises are being built in this VERY CITY in places like NoMa and Navy Yard.

          I also don’t know if you’ve been to other walkable medium-size cities with good transit networks — Boston, Montreal, San Francisco, Philadelphia, etc, etc — but having rows of handsome five or seven story apartment buildings has hardly blotted out the sun in those places or destroyed all street life as we know it. If anything, those some of those cities have done better than D.C. at creating high density (think of great, walkable streets along all four of Boston’s Green Line spurs) transit corridors with vibrant street life.

          Those row houses on V street are pleasant. But a 5 or 7 story apartment building with street level retail would be just as pleasant, and would help bring more money into the city’s coffers, create more demand for better transit and new Metro, bus and streetcar lines and allow more people to share in living in this city.

          And even if your nightmare scenario happens and D.C. becomes Manhattanize “nightmare” of 60 story towers, I really fail to see the problem with that either. Manhattan is only one of the most valuable and desirable places to live in, oh I don’t know, all of the world. It’s also one of the most productive and richest places in America and the most energy and economically efficient.

          • ET

            Just so you know, the reason those painfully shinny building in NoMa and Navy yard are possible is because earlier in the century under the guise of slum clearance or to be nicer urban renewal, the government (by this I mean Uncle Sam not DC) tore down block upon block upon block of house that actually had people living in them. And don’t think for second most of them cared that these were vibrant communities. This was all done for progress. Like 50+ years ago. Then that land became some nice building in SW, public housing projects in SE, and nothing in NE. It is only progress now that developers want to make money. They don’t have to worry about historic review because 50+ years ago someone already did the leg work of throwing people out.

            Sure those townhomes don’t have much in the way of charm but people do live there and now the only people who are likely to buy are developers or someone who would be willing to put in the money to do the exact same thing this developer is doing. Considering that there are likely a few homeowners on that block that bought their place before this changed the game on that street and put some money in it, that puts the market of potentials buyers at a much smaller pool because why pay more for something that was fixed up a bit when you are basically going to tear it all apart. It is likely that the property values on the neighbors are not going to go up and they may find it hard to sell when they want to.

            There is no way I would buy one of the 2-3 houses on either side just for fear the thing would topple over. Any developer that would design this foolishness I would consider suspect when it comes to the sturdiness of the construction (for that reason I wouldn’t buy one of the units for the same reason no matter how nice the staging and photos).

          • Anonymous

            most of the area of noma was actually farmland, then industry, then train yards.

        • Byron

          Hell, let’s take Paris, for example. It’s often held up as the “kind” of city that D.C. is like or aspires to be like — L’Enfant modeled some of the street grids after Paris, D.C. has a height limit sorta like Paris does, etc, etc.

          But really Paris is quite dense, even though it has low-rise buildings and some limits on height. Paris has a density per square mile of 53,883. Washington D.C. has a density of 10,065 people per square mile. D.C. is closer to Alaska in density than it is to Paris.

          Paris — “low-rise” Paris — fits 5 times more people per square mile than we do. Why? Partly because they accept smaller living spaces. Party because most of Paris is low-slug, walkable apartment buildings with lots of vibrant street life and interesting architecture and all that jazz. The way to get that is to replace lots of those pleasant little row houses with pleasant apartment buildings.

          • Mike

            You’re free to relocate to any of these more desirable locations, Byron. Au revoir!

          • And yet Paris continues to die as a city…lost a quarter of its population between 1954 and 1955. It has become a museum city high-end Disneyland of a place. Ever more office, ever fewer residences. It is not all about density.

          • Hungrey

            Money can’t buy you classsssssssss

            Elegance is learned, my friends.

          • tassojunior

            and Paris has a height limit of 6 stories in the downtown. Density is about accepting life in smaller units in order to live in the center.

      • It sounds like you’re the loser putting it up.

        • Mike

          Clearly, right?

        • Byron

          Nope, just someone who believes that the city needs more people and there should be fewer restrictions on development, not more. Aside from being a condo owner in Park View, I have no financial stake in any development anywhere in the city.

          • Anonymous

            Why do we need more people? We’re one of the densest cities in the country and are lagging in retail supporting our numbers.

            We have fewer retail sq footage per capita than most cities.

          • B

            Um. D.C. is not even in the top 125 U.S. cities by density according to the 2000 census…


          • that’s at least partly because DC includes vast areas like Brookland that would be in the suburbs in many other cities.

          • …and massive areas unoccupied due to the federal government owning the land

          • Anonymous

            um,did you even look at that list?
            not really a strong argument in favor of more density equalling a better place.

          • Anonymous

            AND most of that list is places UNDER 10 square miles. many under 1 square mile.
            but yeah, those are “cities”. um, okay.

      • John B.

        Just because it’s completely legal doesn’t mean it should be built. No building–certainly not in a city like DC–exists in a vacuum. Good design fits into a neighborhood. Whoever designed this building, and whoever is building it, has no regard whatsover for the neighborhood or for the neighbors. Contempt, in fact.

        • John B.

          BTW I wonder if there might be more to this story. Maybe the developer is planning to buy the neighboring properties, or already has? Maybe the entire block will be built up like this? It would be interesting to talk to the neighbors of this monstrosity and see what they think of it. Might make a good story for PoP (hint hint).

          • Hello Goodbye

            Neighbors of this property have posted in previous PoPville threads on this property. The neighboring properties are not owned by the developer.

        • “Whoever designed this building, and whoever is building it, has no regard whatsover for the neighborhood or for the neighbors. Contempt, in fact.”

          Well put!

      • Marcus Aurelius

        “Oh, I know why [the neighbors won’t sell to a developer]. People don’t want to lose their parking spots.”

        Maybe the reason the neighbors won’t sell is because they actually like their homes and the neighborhood they live in.
        Sounds like you want the neighbors to rescue this person from the ugly design choice he made but it’s not going to happen. If the developer wasn’t prepared to stand out like 10 sore thumbs, he or she should not have designed and built something that stands out like 10 sore thumbs. Unless the plan was to build something that would make the neighbors want to leave.

  • Anon

    It almost seems tragic to not keep going. Higher, mama! Higher!

    • +1

      Pretty much. The higher it goes, the more spectacular the crash.

      • Let’s hope the guy 2 doors over isn’t chillin’ on his roof deck at that moment… Sure fire way to decrease neighbor’s property value, they must love this guy in that neighborhood… Yeesh!

        • Anonymous

          i just don’t see how this will decrease property values.

          • JS

            Right – now that every house on the block is potentially 4-5 condos, it makes the land they’re sitting on much more valuable.

          • ET

            It only increases values on the theory that buyers will want to pay what a seller is willing to sell for. A seller who paid a premium and spent any money may not get their money back if they try to sell because it may be that people looking for a single family may not want to live next to that (for whatever the reason). If no one is willing to buy for their asking price they will have to lower the price to a point where someone will and that may be less than what they paid for it and added to it.

            And I am sorry but I just don see buyers flocking to those neighbor houses. Now if a developer offered the neighbors good money (at least enough to recoup what they had in the house) and did what this developer did to all the houses on that block maybe then I could agree. But I honestly don’t see this as a plus for the neighbors in any respect.

          • ET, I would give you 100:1 odds that you’re wrong about property values on this block. There’s no way the block loses value as a result of this. Frankly, it’s well built, with a steel i-beam structure that’s not going to collapse in the wind like some folks believe/hope it will. As others have pointed out, the “L” in Location is so strong here that any property on this block is going to be extremely valuable as a shell or as a single-floor walk-up condo.

          • Anonymous


            I don’t see how you can say “There’s *no way* the block loses value as a result of this.”

            I live a couple blocks from here, and sales on my block vary quite a bit depending on individual characterstics of the house (use of small interior space, etc.). Which is my way of saying, even here, location does not trump all.

            I for one would *never* buy one of the neighboring houses (except, perhaps, at well below market rate for the neighborhood). This is partly aesthetic and partly experience with problems with party walls during major renovation (even when carefully done). From the comments on this post, and other PoPville posts re this property, I am not unique in this sentiment. Shrinking the number of prospective buyers does tend to lower sales prices in real estate.

    • I agree, now it jut looks like they’re wimps.

  • I’m sure their neighbors must looooove them right now.. ugh, what an eye sore.

    • native joe

      To be fair… all the houses in that picture are a bit of an eye sore.

      Or have your standards slipped so much that you actually think 2 stories covered in patchwork colored fake stone is beauty?

      • Anonymous


  • It is so terrible that I kind of like it.

  • Anonymous







    • Anonymous

      couldn’t have said it better!

  • zegan

    Got to love the port hole at the top!

  • This may lead to the first actual property devaluation in DC. I’m all for innovative architecture, and new construction here needs a lot more of it, but not if it sucks.

  • Melanie

    HIDEOUS! How’s this legal? NOT a happy neighbor…

    • Byron

      It’s legal because it conforms to the zoning code and it’s someone else’s property.

    • DCDC

      Byron is exactly right. If you are a neighbor that doesn’t like this building, you should educate yourself on the zoning in your neighborhood. I will bet that the height allowed is much higher than you realize – possibly higher than this building has gone. Never assume that the buildings around reflect everything that can be done on the property. Significant change is almost always possible, and (outside of an historic district) almost never subject to design reviews – if it meets the criteria as described in the zoning, up it will go.

  • There’s a building on Ontario (I think) just off of Columbia Rd. that resembles this. But the other buildings are taller than 2 stories, so it doesn’t look so ridiculous. But sheesh. I feel bad for the owners of the third house from the right. Laying out on a nice summer day may be a bit awkward when you’ve got 3 apartments looking down on you…

    • Anonymous

      There is a five or six story building under construction about 50 feet away from this one, so they’d have people looking down on them even if this wasn’t built…

      • Jay

        They probably don’t have zoning rights to put windows on the side of the building… so unless you crane your neck into whatever those boxy bay window things are called, you can’t actually see that roofdeck.

  • YSLoren

    This is photoshopped, right?

    • Chops


  • Alison

    Think they’ll do a roof deck?

    • Yeah, but you’ll need supplemental oxygen.

      • 17th Street

        And it will have an enviable view.

  • Ward One Resident

    Clearly the developer’s daughter is the little girl in the AT&T commercials…”and you want more and you want more…” Oy vey. The Third Church of Christ, Scientist building at 16th and Eye is the Taj Mahal compared this thing.

    • My wife has to leave the room when that commercial comes on. She literally can not handle that little girls voice.

    • Kathryn_DC

      The Christian Scientist building on 16th is actually one of the city’s foremost examples of brutalist architecture. The church hates the building, because it is damp and cold, and they want to tear it down. The historical society is fighting to make them keep the building.

  • Anon

    I wonder if the neighbors will resent the people who move in?

    • wonder if people will want to move in

    • neighbor

      as a condo owner and neighbor, i wouldn’t resent the people who will eventually buy in this “building” but certainly pity them. wonder how long it’ll sit on the market before they find something willing to live in this tower.

      • it will probably spend multiple days on the market before settling above asking, given the market.

        • WalbridgeGuy

          Yeah, if they list a condo for under $400k in this neighborhood it will be under contract in a day. They will have no trouble filling.

  • If look at it from the back alley, you can see that this is going to be 4 or 5 separate condos with each one being about twice as deep as the adjacent rowhouses. That means $400k+ for walk-up condos that get less natural light than your average English basement.

    • Anonymous

      there are three condos. first floor is one, 2nd and 3rd another, and 4th and 5th another. and the single floor unit will go for $400K and the other two a good bit more. they’ll be sold in minutes, just watch.

  • this is truly horrific–I cannot believe DC allows this; on second though, having lived here for over 20yrs, I DO believe it.

    The neighbors and the city probably can’t sue, as there was probably some loop hole…or greased palm that allowed it…

    • Ward One Resident

      “greased palm” well it is located in Ward One so I think we can all probably guess whose palm that is.

      • Anonymous

        i guess the matter-of-right nature of the project doesn’t fit your narrative of dc.

  • Ward One Resident

    Who is going to be the first one to say “I told you” when this thing falls over the next time we have an earthquake?

    • 17th Street

      It might fall, you’re right, or, given that it has a steel frame and block construction, it could be the only thing standing on that block after the next earthquake, with the 1870s brick walls of the other houses crumble into dust.

    • ET

      Who needs an earthquake. Some of the strong gusts we have been having might just do the trick (though I am surprised it didn’t happen during construction).

  • I don’t care about what people do with their homes – but the lack of windows on the visible side is bugging me. It’s just a blank brick wall.

    • I guess they’re trying to encourage the neighbors to climb to their height as well? Back when I worked in that area, a pop-up in this state on W street collapsed in a wind storm. I hope they move quickly, but I still think this is way too much.

      • Besides all the talk about ugly, etc., I agree with the potential “wind” problem. You know when you were a kid and you built something – maybe a sand castle at the beach – and you learned from experience just how tall something could be without toppling over? Well, (and this is just my gut instinct), this think looks like if (when!) we ever have a hurricane (again), it will just fall over. The cinderblock walls go North/South, and our prevailing winds go East/West. It’s just RIPE for disaster.

        • Anonymous

          it’s only 6 storeys tall.
          with a steel infrastructure.

          • native joe

            Don’t bother, this thread is populated by people who apparently fear campfires, and wonder mouth agape “how airplanes stay in the sky!?”

    • Idaho Ave

      Glad im not the neighbor there…a few beers on the roof in the summer and I’d be putting a very hideous mural there to go with the hideous house.

      • Hello Goodbye

        Ooooohhhh…the mural potential. Maybe some (aethetic) good can come of this.

    • Zoning

      It’s called the ‘party wall’ – it’s on the property line. There can’t be windows because the neighbors also have the right to build to that height, which would block the windows. It’s how rowhouses work – at even three stories, the party wall would be window-less.

    • Anonymous

      You can’t have windows if you’re within x feet (10?) of the property line. The side property line of this buildings is basically its walls, thus no windows.

  • Maybe we should start a “Stop the Pop-Ups” movement?

    • fz


    • +1.

    • DCDC

      The DC Zoning Code is undergoing a complete revision right now. Have you been involved? Are you going to public meetings?
      This is the moment to make the changes you want – if you want to limit the allowed height of buildings in your neighborhood, you have to change the zoning.
      You have to do it now.

  • biilm

    Where is the derecho when you need it. Will this survive?

  • Man if one of those off the path tornados come to DC……

  • MK

    Disgusting! A “Stop the Pop-Up Movement” is a great idea.

    • I’ll sign. This thing takes “terrible” to a whole new level.

  • Anon

    How did this approved?

  • Anonymous

    Is the expectation that the other house’s on the block also loose touch with reality.

  • Anonymous

    I want that top floor! I hope these are all a bunch of breadbox condos, right on top of each other!

  • marlene Parker

    I don’t think the neighbor with the roof deck need worry. There are no windows on the side.

  • Anonymous

    When it’s done, will it look like this block is giving us the finger?

    • wdc

      Oh, you’re already getting the finger.

  • As someone who does not live near there nor walk by it on a regular basis, I love it- strictly for humor’s sake. It’s pretty freaking amazing. If I lived on this block, I’d be really pissed though.

  • It’s like an extended middle finger to anyone who passes by!

  • Eric

    I could have understood if they were only adding a single story and a deck, but this is absolutely horrendous.

  • LM

    It was bad a few weeks ago at four stories – so the tasteless owners added another glory hole 5th floor for the Jolly Green Giant. Why can’t the city do it job and zone this last frontier neighborhood? Growth is great – but zoning allows smart growth so that this shit doesn’t happen. I have to look at that out of my window.

    • DCDC

      “Why can’t the city do it job and zone this last frontier neighborhood? Growth is great – but zoning allows smart growth so that this shit doesn’t happen. I have to look at that out of my window.”

      If you’re a neighbor and you don’t like this, you’d better do your research. The City is doing its job.
      The neighborhood is zoned.
      The zoning allows for buildings of a certain height.
      This building is within that height, which is why the city gave it a building permit.

      If you don’t want to see any more buildings of this height in your neighborhood, you should learn the zoning of the area around you, and learn how to change it. The District is considering a revised zoning code right now. Office of Planning at DC.gov

      Don’t assume that the buildings you see now are thr ones that will be there forever. Get involved. Do something.

      • helvetica

        Also, this block is not in a historic district, so you end up with things like this.

  • This thing is an afront to everything good and holy, but I don’t think we need to jump to a “pop-up moritorium” or create a historic district after all the historic elements of the neighborhood have already been demolished.

    I love this area north of U st. between 12th and 9th because it has so many unique buildings. The problem with this one is that its not an owner trying to build their dream home, but a developer trying to throw up the biggest buidling for the least amount of money to make a quick profit. Hopefully the [buyer’s] market responds by not rushing to buy up these poorly conceived and hastily built condos.

  • Carver

    Awesome, this place just keeps getting better. I wish there was a webcam set up so we could watch the daily progress. I’m hoping for a pirates crow’s nest or some type of aerial beacon that extends another 20ft. up just like the Sears tower. Looking forward to the next update. I’m sure the exterior finishing materials are going to be very tasteful. They are saving the best for last.

  • John C.

    How is this legal?!? Whats the story behind the add-on stories (if you’ll pardon the pun…)

  • manimal

    maybe it is designed to lower down and demolish the two original floors? like a trash compactor.

  • Jason

    Who approved this? And why isn’t the ANC involved in stopping this madness?

    • too busy preventing restaurants from getting liquor licenses…

  • manimal

    top floor: Big Birds pad. they just need to add the perch.

    • Melanie

      TOTALLY thought the same thing….ridic!!!

  • PCGamer

    Looks like a PC tower. DVD drives below and plug-in the headphones up top.

  • According to a friend at DCRA, this is going to be a new charter school. I think it’s called “Wayside” something or other. Sounds like there might have been mix-up in the construction drawings though…


    • Awesome reference. I had forgotten about that book!

  • Anonymous

    It’s ugly as sin but why chop out the six story condo building three houses away? The most jarring thing about this block isn’t the tall pop-up, it’s how short the other seven houses are.

    • I agree that it looks *slightly* less hideous when coupled with Lima (the seven story condo building) a few houses down.

  • Anonymous

    is this a missile silo?

  • I live on W Street behind this…thing. The port hole is absurd. I think it will have four units inside. Like one of the previous comments, if you look at it from the back alley you can get a sense of how the stairs and interior doors will shape out. Between all the stairwells and common hallways, these units will be nearly windowless and very cramped. If you live on thefirst, second, or third floor, I am not sure what type of light you are going to get (because you can’t have skylights that may benefit the port hole penthouse unit). Insane. I’d really appreciate the monthly updates if I didn’t have to see it myself every day.

    • Anonymous

      As the owner of a similar-width/style row house, popped up a story, I can’t imagine not being able to use skylights to bring light down to the other floors. Maybe they’ll sell to people who work the night shift?

      • Anonymous

        i live in a 2 storey rowhouse and i only have windos on the front and the back of my house, meaning that the first floor only gets light fron the windows, no skylights. just like each of the floors of this place.

  • OMG I want to move into the very top apartment and then dangle a fake yellow hair braid out the window. Rapunzel!

  • Eww how dreadful

  • crin

    If the front is a projection past the property line, and it looks like it is, that’s illegal. Front projections can only be half the width of the property. That’s nearly full width. Doesn’t change that ridiculous height though.

  • Helder Gil


    Thanks for letting me provide your readers with some information about this residential construction project.

    We have reviewed the approved building plans for this project and found the following:

    1. The property is not within a historic district or designated as a historic landmark; it is zoned as C-2-B and is within the ARTS Overlay zoning district.

    2. The approved height of the building shown on the plans is 59 feet, five inches, which is within the 65-foot height limit applicable a C-2-B zone.

    3. The three-foot projection at the front of the building was properly approved by both DDOT and DCRA, and it meets District Building Code requirements.

    4. The structural supports of the project, including its foundation, were reviewed and verified as meeting District Building Code requirements.

    5. Because the property is within the ARTS Overlay zoning district, it is granted additional density. The project’s Floor Area Ratio (FAR) was approved at 3.94, which is below the maximum FAR of 4.0.

    While we understand some residents’ concerns with the project’s aesthetics, in a non-historic district, the District’s Building Codes and zoning regulations focus only on safety and density.

    If readers have concerns about possible illegal construction, please call us at 442-STOP (7867).

    Helder Gil

    • Anonymous

      Nobody wanted actual answers from DCRA talking about property rights and zoning and such. We just wanted to pretend this was all shady backroom dealings and corrupt government officials.

    • saf

      OK, so while you’re here….

      I am astounded that this is permissible, yet the backyard arbor that I want to build is not.

      What astounds me most is that you have laid out clearly here what is allowed and why, yet every time I have applied for a permit, I get only a yes or no. No explanation, no “if it were changed this way it would be approved,” and certainly no pointers to the applicable portion of the zoning code.

      Would you be willing to answer other questions, or to provide pointers to SPECIFIC guidance on permitting?

    • Mark

      This should be a case study in why historic regulations (or rezoning to harmonize with existing structure height and FAR) may be good things, and worth considering.
      This was done in Dupont some years ago, and can be credited for preserving some segments of that community.

    • Moondoggie

      Thanks for taking the time to respond to the comments. I too am really frustrated with DCRA, I think your office go out of the way to make the residents do illegal things, I call it creating facts on the ground. Just go down any alley in Capitol Hill and you will see all the facts that have been created regardless of what DCRA had to say about the matter. With that said, I am going to build my deck and deal with the consequences later.

    • Crin

      With all due respect, if 3202.10.3.1a is still in the Building Code (and that section was in the 2008 Building code), no projections are allowed on that building:

      “A bay window projection shall not be allowed on buildings less than 16 feet wide at the building line.”

      That building is only 14 feet wide.

      All those buildings are 14 feet wide and that’s why none of them have projections.

  • Anonymous

    How the heck did this get approved? Were they frat brothers with Fenty? Ten Penh diners with Graham? Or just in cohoots with Gray? All of the above? WOW

  • Chops

    This isn’t the prettiest thing ever, but take a look at the houses around it: no charmers themselves. And since the whole neighborhood is going to climb eventually, why not get ahead of the curve? A little diversity never hurt anyone.

  • jch

    Guess the people who bought 1011 or 1013 v st recently will be laughing all the way to the bank after this is complete.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t understand the theory that this will increase the value of the property on either side. Those owners, also, could *always* have done this, too. As can owners on other blocks in this area. I understand the argument that this building could decrease the neighboring property values (this towering pop up is obviously controversial, and potential shrinks the market for the neighboring markets), but I don’t see the reasoning behind the suggestion that it would increase them.

  • NoLongerNew2CH

    Coming soon, to U Street:

    The Icarus

  • Niko

    anyone have a rendering of what this will look like when its done

  • cswammi

    Pure awesomeness!

  • So all the adjoining houses can now also build up 3 stories, profiting hugely to the owners, providing ecologically sound “infill” housing, generating thousands of dollars in property tax and it will look like hundreds of 4-5 story apartment buildings in every major east coast city. What exactly is the problem?

    • I would imagine most of the people on that block bought their two-story houses planning to keep them as two-story houses, and imagining that the existing two-story houses would stay at two stories.

      Sure, maybe the neighbors can sell and make a profit… but what if they just wanted to stay there, without the ugly pop-up building and without having to go through the hassle of house-hunting, selling, etc.?

      And the “now” in your post makes it sound like the zoning changed because of this building. They haven’t; it’s just that until now, nobody on the block was inclined to exploit the zoning to the maximum possible height. (Perhaps because they were planning to LIVE there, not develop the property and immediately sell it.)

      This is like arguing that if the owners of one house on a block decide to paint their house an atrocious fluorescent/neon color, everyone else should follow suit.

    • ET

      Because that is f**king expensive and I bet none of the people bought budgeted for that -it would be like building a new house. Only developers and the really wealthy can do that.

      Maybe in 10, 15, 20 years that will be how things will turn out but the current owners may be screwed for the foreseeable future because they paid money to buy and possibly fix up their places they may have trouble getting back. Single family buyers may not want to risk it and developers aren’t going to want to pay for that if all they are going to do is guy it any build out.

      • ET, excellent point re. the cost of building a pop-up… doable for developers, but not as easy for people living in a house who plan to keep living there.

  • andyn

    They need to get someone to do some amazing murals on those huge walls. Climbing gear will be needed, but shit, those could be awesome.

    When life gives you pop-up lemons… ya know.

  • What actual proof do we have that this is the end? Maybe they’re going to erect a tower on top?

  • Anonymous

    Whoever is responsible for this doesn’t give a s*it about the neighbors or the aesthetic of the neighborhood, only money!

    • DCDC

      In the United States we have property rights, which allow an owner a lot of leeway over what can be cone with a property.

      We also have zoning in which the community places restrictions on property rights by (1) listing what uses can or can’t go on a property, and (2) giving some definition of what shape the building can take. As long as the owner meets the requirements of the zoning, he or she can still do whatever with the property. Sure it’s about profit, but all real estate is someone’s investment.

      The community has already limited this owner by saying a 20-story building is not allowed on this site, but they’ve also said that a six-story building is OK.

      It may not be pretty, but pretty is not something zoning addresses, outside of historic districts; this site has already been excluded from the historic district across the street.

      What’s wrong with the owner taking advantage of what the community has already defined as acceptable?

      • Anonymous

        You can try to justify this monstrosity by pointing out loopholes but the community does not accept this. The owner does not have the best interest of the community in mind, only money.

        • Anonymous

          not really a compelling argument.

      • The “community” changes over time. That’s why zoning specifications can change, and why historic districts get created.

        I doubt most (any?) of the current neighbors realized when they bought that they were at the risk of getting a 65-foot-tall neighbor.

        This pop-up really seems like the ultimate “f*** you” to the neighborhood — no concern for the community, fitting in with the community, etc. Instead, it’s all about ME ME ME and what the developer can do within the existing (rather lax/generous) parameters.

        This kind of pop-up is why historic districts get created.

      • Mike

        Having the right to do something doesn’t mean you should do it. Nor does it mean that we don’t have the right to complain about it and label it “hideous.” They’re sure as hell building it. Now let us do our thing.

      • Anonymous

        “What’s wrong with the owner taking advantage of what the community has already defined as acceptable?”

        There is often a great deal of ground between what is acceptable (legal) and what is neighborly, thoughtful, or (subjectively) appropriate. This echoes throughout public life. For example, I have First Amendment rights, but that doesn’t mean my speech exercising that won’t be “wrong”–hateful, destructive, tendentious, discourteous, whatever. Same issue here.

        Also, that the maximum height standards are set as they are (done a long time ago and not precisely by the commnity) is not evidence that the “community” has “already defined” this construction as “acceptible” in a sense other than “legal.”

        Not to put to fine a point on it: This may be legal, but it is *also* a giant FU to the neighbors.

        • DCDC

          The maximumm heights allowed are part of the overall revision of the zoning code being done right now. The community has an opportunity to express its opinion on what is an acceptable maximum height in this, and and every, zone, right now. A lot of people have been involved in this process – have you?

          If you are so perturbed by this property owner building something that is within the rules, here’s your chance. Change the rules. Will you, or the many people on this blog who agree with you, get involved and try to do something to prevent this from happening again?

          Do any of you know the zoning of your current residence, and what is allowed in your neighborhood? That’s how the community expresses its opinion on what is acceptable; if the owners of the neighboring properties on this block did not know that this was possible, then who is at fault? Part of being neighborly is knowing what your neighbors are allowed to do; although it might not be what you like, it is their right.

          Blog posting is fun, but not effective.
          Work for change, or live with the consequences.

          • Again, just because something is legal or permitted by code doesn’t make it right. “It’s allowed by technicality and it’s your fault for not knowing the law so STFU” has got to be my least-favorite arguments in PoPville. Everyone here understands zoning, and understands how and why it’s possible that this property isn’t covered by what one might expect. What’s lacking is your understanding of what it means to live in a community.

          • Anonymous

            how will this negatively impact the community?

  • 6th floor apartment with no elevator… Pass.

  • KILL IT!!!!

  • ET

    With that hole in the top I think we now have a name –

    the Cyclops Pop-Up

  • And I call BS on the argument that adding pop-ups to existing rowhouses is an example of good infill housing/density.

    There are MANY vacant lots in fairly central areas of D.C. that could easily be developed into 6-story apartment buildings. I think there are three such corner lots on Georgia Avenue between Gresham and New Hampshire. Now, THAT kind of building would be responsible infill building. THIS kind of building is myopic and selfish.

    We’re finally seeing developers taking advantage of spaces close to Metro and creating the kind of dense housing the city needs — I’m thinking of the new apartment buildings right by the Rhode Island Ave. Metro station, and the ones going up close to the Brookland Metro station. As long as opportunities like those exist to create infill housing with substantial numbers of units, there is no real need to add units by creating pop-ups that destroy the architectural cohesiveness of a block. It’s just a developer out to make a buck, and city laws and regulations that (unfortunately) allow it.

    • Anonymous

      Good point!

  • Anonymous

    Cities and their fabric are a constantly evolving work in progress. While it is admittedly jarring to see one property so far beyond its neighbors in the constant march toward increased density, there are and have been similar examples of this phenomenon for centuries in great cities all across the globe. Eventually many of the houses on this block will be similar in size… That they get there one at a time is a welcome change of pace from the alternative of a single developer buying the whole block and building something that is truly out of scale with the adjacent fabric.

    • native joe

      Well said. +1

  • Another thing people can’t see from this picture is that the roof looks like an Olympic ski jump. That part above the porthole slopes up sharply like a launch ramp. It’s pretty ridiculous.


  • Anony-moose

    I’ll give you one month or less after completion before someone puts a huge work of graffiti on it. It’s just asking for it.

    • They would be quite lucky if this happened. The building needs all the personality it can get.

  • PFL

    Sadly, I predict that time and a few stiff breezes will reveal a lack of structural integrity (after it’s been occupied of course), and we’ll be having a conversation about how this could have been allowed to be built in the first place…

    • native joe

      Your odd lack of faith in basic construction, as if you’ve never seen anything taller than four stories in your life, is both amusing and scary.

      Yes it could collapse, if the builder somehow skirted engineering requirements, but assuming it will because it’s taller than 2 stories and narrow is like denying the moon landing because it just “seems crazy.”

  • native joe

    To those who say this is ugly, what sort of twisted sense of architectural aesthetics do you have in which you think the tall one is any uglier than the short, stubby, little false stone covered ones around it? Big fans of permastone are we? No visitor from another place would ever look at this little flat fronted false stone two stories and say “ohh, beautiful”.

    To those who say it’s going to fall… did you get teleported from some paleolithic era in which you don’t believe mankind is capable of building things higher than two stories? Have you seen what can be built after 1200ad?

    And for those saying “it shouldn’t be allowed!” It’s not in a historic district, and it’s within regulation… so why shouldn’t it be allowed? If you want things to continue looking like 1890 forever, you should pay the extra premium to live in a historic district (at which point you will immediately start bitching about not being able to do what you want).

    The reason it’s windowless on the sides is for fire code purposes, which forces row homes like this to be a little less than attractive unless things are build along side them. Keep in mind all those other houses looked just as ridiculous until the neighboring ones were built.

    There are examples in actual historic districts all over town of “garishly tall monstrosities” with nothing along side them, that are now treasured as gems. In about 80 years this may be the only building on the block anyone likes. It will surely be the most talked about, which is usually the same thing.

    I can see it now, some time in 2090, “save the tall house!”

    This is all meddling and sour grapes.

    • Formstone can be removed, but this monstrosity isn’t going anywhere.

      My understanding has been that rowhouses in blocks like these were generally built at the same time and had a uniform appearance. The reason that don’t all have the same architectural detailing now is that there were unfortunate trends (like formstone) in the interim.

    • Anonymous

      The formstone is not architectural and can be removed.

    • zzindc

      VERY well said.
      Thank you.

    • Anonymous

      when do we tear down the cairo?

      • The Cairo doesn’t stick out past the neighboring building like this one does, though its height must’ve been ridiculously out of scale with the surrounding neighborhood when it was built.

        • Anonymous

          Still is

    • Anonymous


  • David

    This thing can’t be legally permitted, can it?

    • crin

      No, it’s not. Projections are not allowed on a building this narrow.

  • Those projections are pretty awful – the building codes should take the “line” of the other houses on the street into account – not just the property line. I’ve seen this in areas with nicer row houses – one awful new place that juts out 5-10 feet past the rest of the houses, screwing up the aesthetics of the block.

  • Dab

    Aside from looking like a giant Pez dispensor, or cigarette lighter, maybe the block can reap some benefit from this ugly addition, by getting the builder to put in a turbine engine, and paddles into the oval hole, thereby turning it into a windmill to power the whole block.

  • Anonymous

    Is that on the top a winter retreat for Canadian Geese?

  • Anonymous

    As one who has added a third floor to a two story (but 16 foot wide) rowhouse in a historic district in DC, I find it extremely hard to believe that the foundation and structural support for this building can possibly meet code. Assuming a similar construction to my house (built around the same time period as these houses), the party wall between this monstrosity and the neighboring rowhouses is set on a 4-width of clay bricks extending a mere four feet below the surface. In order to adequately support a structure of this size, the developer would have to have dug underpinnings under that existing foundation of at least ten feet and installed steel reinforced concrete footings. I do not know if that was done – but I guarantee the neighbors would have. That is the same as digging a ten foot deep basement under an existing rowhouse – and extremely expensive, time-consuming and difficult operation. Not two guys with a shovel, but heavy equipment. I’m betting the drawings might have shown it was being done, but that DCRA never inspected it, or if they did, its inspectors were paid off (for which the DCRA inspectors get indicted every five or six years – look it up).

    • dat

      There’s a few things wrong with your post. First off, they needn’t have underpinned to the depth you suggest – helical piers would do the job just fine.

      Second, underpinning most certainly does not require heavy equipment (nothing more than a bobcat). In fact, most of the work is actually done by hand due to the sensitive nature of it.

      And, if it was properly permitted (and the post from the DCRA fellow indicated it was), it was most certainly inspected. You are certainly not the first person to complain about this…


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