Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Abandoned House Watch: The saga of 1483 Newton Street NW

I've written about 1483 Newton Street NW before, it's a big, abandoned apartment building on an otherwise decent block. It's been abandoned for some time, the city tried to buy it for $3.1 million in 2009, but that was squashed since it seems way too high for an abandoned building.

Finally through much digging and working with the city and Jim Graham, I found that it's owned by "ROBERTA ONG ROUMEL TRUSTEE" with a Macarthur Blvd address, who apparently bought it (or was given it, it's unclear) on January 11, 2011. (The link may not work, if not just type in the address.)

The place is assessed at about $1 million and is being taxed at the blighted property rate ($10 per every $100 assessed). The owners currently owe more than $130,000 in taxes from 2010 and 2011, including penalties, and if they don't pay the building will go on the tax sale list. They were also fined $2,000 for not registering it as an abandoned building.

Of course, going on the tax sale means someone has to buy it and fix it up, but it's a start. If it does go on the tax sale list, the owners are notified in April, the list is published in May, and the sale is done in July. Unfortunately the city can't just seize it if it's delinquent.

Here's what happened to track this info down -- per a reader's email, I first asked Councilmember Graham, who let me know some of the backstory and asked DCRA about taxes. At the same time I emailed the Office of Tax and Revenue, who said the taxes were being paid, which I found hard to believe since they would have had to pay $100,000 on an abandoned building -- no small change. Graham then got in touch with DCRA, who confirmed that taxes had not been paid and it was delinquent. The city's condemnation board discussed the property, but I'm not sure what they agreed to do, the agenda is unclear. I'll follow up on that.

Thanks to everyone who helped from DC Government and to Jim Graham. Let's hope this place goes on the tax list and is sold to someone who develops it into something good for the neighborhood.

If you'd like to check on a property, the city's Taxpayer Service Center can give you assessment and ownership information, and at the bottom of the page for a property there's a link to the tax information: this link under the Real Property Service Center. This is what the info looks like, and you can see the tax links on the bottom. Click for a bigger version:

UPDATE: A little googling finds a Roberta Roumel who owns Roumel Properties, and she's listed elsewhere around the metro area as a property owner. Hmmm.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

on the same street there are several other copies of this apartment building, they look very beautiful when fixed up.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all your hard work on this!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this. I live on this street and would LOVE to see something happen with this eye sore. It's pretty horrible.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the research! I lice on this street too and HATE this building.

Anonymous said...

Ditto. I live in one of the nicer versions of this building and everyone on the block finds this an eyesore, a trash magnet, and occasionally a crime scene. Let's hope somebody can do something already...

Nithya said...

Do you think you could apply your mad research skills to the travesty that is the Bacon Funeral Home?

Mike said...

Not to be too repetitive, but thanks for your hard work on this. So much potential for this building if someone would step up and put some work into it.

Tim said...

A second the sentiment that this building has a lot of potential like its copies on Newton and Meridian.

On a related note, a friend of mine got his car broken into on Meridian, and some of the the stolen property was found outside this building. It would appear that its a magnet for crime in addition to an eyesore.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, the crazy mural on this building was painted over a few months ago. We wondered about that. I guess it must have had something to do with the new owner?

Anonymous said...

Can you imagine how grand and beautiful this building was in the past? The apartments must have been awesome. Wish someone could find an old photo of it or detail some history.

It could be gorgeous again if someone had the ambition and cared enough to do it!

Anonymous said...

I also live on this street and I'm wondering - is there anything that we as neighbors can do to help move this process along? A little collective bargaining power?

Thanks so much again!

Anonymous said...

Clergy and members of St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church at the corner of Newton and 16th have tried to intervene with the owners as recently as last year, but there was some intransigence due to conflicting interest of different Roumel family members in the property. It is interesting that there is apparently now some change of ownership registered in January. I will pass the info on and see if some sort of negotiations can be resumed.

Andrew said...

From what I understand, two Roumel brothers owned the property and both passed away, then it went to their wives, which I think was the January transfer. As the commenter mentioned they haven't agreed on what to do with it, thus it's just sitting there.

Anonymous said...

Thank heavens that the District didn't follow through on the plan to pay $3 million for this wreck. Now, they'll get it for free due to tax delinquency.