Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Abandoned House Watch: 1483 Newton St NW

A reader sent this one in. He said he saw the property and mentioned it to a relative who buys, renovates and sells old buildings. The relative called the number on a for sale sign, since removed, and was told a group of siblings in New York own the property but couldn't agree on terms to sell it.

That was about three months ago. The reader adds "It's a shame too because it's the only blight on a street that has seen a lot of improvement come in over the last year or two."

The property also appears on the city's vacant property list, though it's on the "exempt" list, which I think means they don't pay the higher tax rate: usually vacant properties pay 10 times the normal property tax rate.

Checking the property in the city's real property database, it's owned by someone in upper NW DC, and she apparently bought it in February. I got back in touch with the reader, who said that was a different person than his relative had talked to, so that's a good sign! Maybe they're going to fix it up.

Either way, let's keep an eye on the place. Owners of vacant properties are required to keep them "in good order." If it's dilapidated, DCRA says folks should call 202-442-9557 to report it.

Image from Google Street View


  1. Hi there. I've been keeping an eye on this property for some time now, especially since some weird mural made its way onto the board covering one of the windows facing the street (ground floor).

    Does anyone have any idea who the artist behind it is? It's quite trippy.

  2. I seem to remember the city trying to buy this building last year or earlier this year, but the deal was scuttled at the last minute because of the sweetheart nature (they were going to pay considerably more than people thought it worth). But now I can't find anything about it. Maybe my memory is wrong.

  3. City Offers $3.1 Million for Columbia Heights Dump
    Posted by Ruth Samuelson on Jan. 7, 2009, at 12:53 pm

    According to the D.C. Examiner, the city was about to pay $3.1 million for this 32-unit property at 1438 Newton Street.

    Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham said it best with this line: “That is an extraordinarily high price for a building that it’s not even clear that there are usable walls…The roof is probably beyond reliable use. You’re barely talking about a shell.”

    The building is set to be rehabbed as affordable housing. The Department of Housing and Community Development negotiated the deal—though one has to wonder if “deal” is really the right word to use with this outcome. In any case, the city’s tax office assessed the building at nearly $1.1 million. Another appraisal by DHCD put the market value at roughly $2.9 million, according to the Examiner, which also, apparently, forced the issue into review:

    But Neil Albert, D.C.’s deputy mayor for planning and economic development, put a temporary, last-second hold on the deal Tuesday after The Examiner raised questions about the price tag.

    “We’re taking a closer look in the office to make sure that the price and the appraisal adds up, given the current market conditions,” said Sean Madigan, Albert’s spokesman…

    The council passively approved the sale Jan. 1 to Graham’s dismay: The resolution was submitted Dec. 22, one day before members left for recess.

    Mayor Adrian Fenty targeted the Newton Street building for redevelopment into affordable units, part of his promise to preserve 500 units citywide. The government has paid a premium to fulfill that pledge — it paid $3.1 million last April for a decrepit building in Brightwood, considerably more than both its market and tax appraisals.


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