83°Partly Cloudy

“I nominate these two buildings on the 2100 block of Georgia Avenue, NW for the Horse’s Ass award”

by Prince Of Petworth August 4, 2016 at 2:55 pm 37 Comments

horses ass
(The image looks northeast from the intersection of 8th and V Streets, NW.)

“Dear PoPville,

I nominate these two buildings on the 2100 block of Georgia Avenue, NW for the Horse’s Ass award. These derelict properties are on the site of the once planned Howard Town Center. The development, proposed years ago, received an $11 million tax break in 2012 (over the objection of DC’s CFO) before being canceled in 2013 after a falling out between Howard University (the property owner) and Cohen Siegal Investors (the developer).
The two parties locked in a legal dispute ever since. The most recent news available (June 2015) is that the DC Court of Appeals overturned an earlier ruling and sent the matter back to a lower court.

The properties suffer from extreme neglect, with substantial damage in particular to the roof where it has clearly caved-in in multiple places and with standing water and the growth of trees, shrubs, and grass. The buildings continue to languish and slowly collapse yet remain listed as “vacant” by DCRA instead of “blighted” for some unknown reason.
The buildings have significant potential and historic significance and it would be great to see a mixed-use development preserve as much character and facade is possible. The brown building in particular could be repurposed as a market hall (e.g. Chelsea Market or Union Market) with apartments on north side of the property. Will require a developer with patience and vision, however.

The properties comprise the the former Washington Railway and Electric Company Garage (2112 Georgia Avenue – the building with substantial damage in the picture) and the former Bond Bread Factory (2146 Georgia Ave. – the taller cream colored building with graffiti). Both buildings are on the DC Inventory of Historic Sites and their histories are detailed in a 2013 DC Government report.”

  • Mike

    Howard university should get the horse ass award for how awful it up keeps all its property. Their neglect is leagendary

    • P. Lecheval

      I don’t get it. How is such a prestigious and historic university so poorly managed? Clearly they’re a total mess.

    • KellyKapowski

      +10000 It’s terrible. Meanwhile they’re building brand new buildings all over campus; I’m sure in 25 years those will end up abandoned and condemned too and they’ll be off building something new.

    • LedroitTigah

      I do have to say that they’ve been responsive when Ive asked questions regarding some of their vacant properties (the mary church Terrell house & walter Washington house). nothing has happened yet at either property, though, so I guess theyre not great!

    • Kevin

      If you went to HU like I did you’d quickly realize why. Besides being poorly funded for some reason the management can’t catch a clue.

      And that’s not a knock on HBCU’s FYI.

  • northshaw

    When I moved into the ‘hood I saw a sign on that building saying ‘Howard Town Center – Coming Fall 2004’

    • Anon

      I’m willing to bet that nothing happens before 2024.

  • Effie

    please make this a wegmans

    • CVR


    • KellyKapowski

      I think it’s right next door to the new Whole Foods coming so unfortunatelY I think a grocery store is fairly unlikely.

  • Sean

    Is that standing water on the roof? Hopefully it just rained or else this place must be a mosquito factory.

  • MRD

    Those buildings were in that shape when I was at Howard back in the early 90s.

  • Jean-Claude

    This could be Eataly . But it also would be great if developers would turn them into Chelsea Market or Union Market type of place.

    • Bloomy


  • anon

    I’ve often wondered what those beautiful, huge, decrepit old buildings were. Kind of reminds me of the stuff I observed in Gary, Indiana. Also, there are many broken windows and exposed entrances in that building, which leads me to believe there are squatters and drug users inside. *shudder*

  • nw_dc_1988

    Has anyone peeked in/gone in recently? Would be…interesting.

  • SaraEP

    If Howard is in need of money (which I’ve read they are), why don’t they sell? I’m sure some developer would pay top dollar for this spot.

    • SaraEP

      Jesus… Sorry, yeah I didnt read before I posted that. Today is my Friday and it’s showing. Derp.

    • 7thStTechGuy

      I dont understand how Howard would possibly NEED money- that place mints Lawyers, Drs and Dentists.

      • SC

        It’s the hospital that is weighing them down. The University itself seems to be in good financial health but the hospital is in financial ruin, or so I hear.

        • Anon

          There’s been some talk of either selling the hospital or closing it and selling the land to a developer.

      • PettyShabazz

        Ever heard of a little thing called school loans? Those educations aren’t cheap.

        • Tsar of Truxton

          How is that relevant to the finances of the University. The students take out the loans to pay the school, so the school is getting the money.

          • Northzax

            Very relevant. Howard charges roughly half the tuition of the other DC private universities.

      • eva

        They’ve done better than other HBCUs (some of which are in dire straights) in recent years, but federal cuts to Pell Grants hit this particular group of colleges harder than colleges write large. Enrollment dropped for a number of HBCUs, though I think Howard has been able to supplant it somewhat with foreign enrollment which I understand to be growing.

    • facts

      racial politics. they can’t be seen as encouraging gentrification.

      • LedroitTigah


      • PettyShabazz

        What are you talking about? They tried to have it developed and as you can read, are locked in a dispute with the developer they had an agreement with. Your screenname must be in jest.

        • Anonymous

          The hospital does weigh down Howard’s finances (bond rating etc.) Howard also has a relatively new president. Howard has less affluent students (as a whole) so the enrollment suffered post 2008. “Facts” may be overstating it but there is probably pressure on Howard not to partner with developers and build the most expensive rentals that the neighborhood can support. I don’t know if Howard’s endowment is quite 650 million. Howard has partnered for developers for their properties @ 16 & Euclid, Sherman (near Banneker) and they are seeking development partners for the old Divinity School campus in NE. (EYA?) Other projects are moving forward but the current litigation won’t allow anything to move forward on THIS location, Horse’s Ass may be a little unfair.

          I want to point this out in the 80’s before most of the readership (me included) was here the universities (Howard included but not just Howard) and the Federal Gov’t were important to holding DC together. Howard is still one of the biggest employers in the city. That said, they should do better, particularly for their students.

          • facts

            yes exactly. if they were looking at this in purely financial terms they’d cash in and make enough money to completely solve their financial problems – however, they aren’t, and the politics of race and gentrification is a major contributor to that.

          • dunning-kruger

            Pure fantasy.

          • PettyShabazz

            Again, you missed the point that Howard WAS trying to develop this location and it fell through and is now tied up in legal proceedings. So at what point then, is it realistic to say race politics is preventing them from working with developers when clearly the FACTS do not support that assertion. Do better.

    • Anon

      I don’t see how any private university needs money. Their endowment is 650+ million. Small in comparison to Ivy leagues but no private university needs money.

      • Northzax

        Let’s compare our DC universities, shall we?

        GW: endowment $1.6b, tuition $50k
        Georgetown: endowment $1.5b, tuition $48k
        American: endowment $600m, tuition $44k
        Catholic: endowment: $300m, tuition: $40k
        Howard: endowment $650m, tuition: $22k

        Note tuition does not include room, board, fees, books, etc.

        Which one of those jumps out at you for being different? Howard is half the cost of those other schools, that’s why they have financial difficulties the others don’t.

  • curious

    Yes ! A thousand times yes, these buildings are in desperate need of development into something amazing.

  • Steve

    As stated above, there is a dispute between Howard and the developer, so nothing will happen on this site until that is resolved. In the meantime, the Hospital partnered with a healthcare management company last year, and supposedly the fiscal year that ended June 30th looked better, or at least less bad.

    I’m not sure that these buildings were registered as historic when the original plan was developed around 2004. Does anyone know?

    • Shaw

      I don’t believe they were. The original plan was to tear down the buildings and build a bland glass/brick mixed-use box near-identical to most other buildings. The buildings were not proposed for listing until this plan was announced and preservationists moved to prevent it (2012 or 2013).


Subscribe to our mailing list