Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Crime and abandoned buildings: 1483 Newton, again

As I was writing up the previous post about 1483 Newton, I received an email from a reader whose friend had their car broken into. The perpetrator then apparently took the stuff over to 1483 Newton Street NW, the abandoned building, where they looked through it and got rid of the stuff they didn't want.

Just another example of how aside from being eyesores and a waste of real estate where people could live, abandoned buildings can also harbor crime. Here's the reader's full story. It also serves as a reminder to always be careful about having things in your car in plain view, as the reader notes. If you saw any of this happen, please contact the police.
Yesterday, a friends car was broken into on Meridian Place just east of 16th St when he was visiting my apartment.  This occurred between 1 and 6 PM on Sunday April 3rd, right next to the awning of the Meridian Place entrance to the Urban Village apartments.  The rear window was broken in and a bag, containing a laptop and camera among other things was taken.  Yes, this stuff should not have been left visible in his car, but I would like to pass the details along to hopefully prevent such things from happening to others in the future.  I also feel horrible that my friend was at hy house when I was not around and was not there to make sure he took all valuables out of his car, as he is not used to parking in the area.  I hate that this reflects so poorly on my neighborhood., which for the most part, I love and feel very safe in.

The police in this case were next to useless.  An officer showed up and stayed for quite a while. but the crime scene investigators he called never showed up(Im sure that they were short staffed and had more important things to tend to, which is annoying but understandable).  my friend received a phone call while waiting for the investigators from a woman who had found his bag, albeit without the camera or laptop.  The officer went to take a look, but left the bag and its contents there until the investigators showed up.  When they did not, and it started to rain, he told us to go get the stuff, but as he could not get back in touch with the woman who had found it, had us do it ourselves.  We later managed to get in touch with the nice woman who had found the bag by the dumpster at the apartment building at 1489 Newton street, and she took us back there.  She said however that she thought there had been more stuff there and it had disappeared in the time the officer would not let us retrieve it, but left it unattended.  We observed some more of my friends stuff, mostly CDs, strewn around on the other side of the fence, which is the abandoned building at 1483 Newton.  we called the police hoping they could come out as we could not get into the padlocked lot and while we could have hopped the fence, it did not seem to necesarily be the smartest plan to approach an abandoned building in the dark.  The cops never came, so we left the stuff there.  For all we know, the perps and some of the more important items (laptop, camera) could have been in the building.

I live at the Allegro Appartment building.  I can actually see the abandoned building in question from my deck.  I think those six or so identical older style buildings on Newton and Meridian which back to the alley behind Allegro are beautiful.  But my guess is that these perps ran through the Urban Garden parking lot, hopped the fence into 1483 Netwon, rummaged through the bag there, and tossed what they didnt want over the fencce to the dumpster at 1489. 

The rest of those older buildings have been rennovated and seem to be very nice places.  I am sure that there would be an economic incentive to do the same for the building at 1483.  Whether they turn it into expensive condos or subsidized housing, it would certainly be better than the blight that it seems to be today.  I love Columbia Heights, blemishes and all, and I think the worst thing to do would be to overreact to things like this and further the pushing out of the people who live here and are virtually all good people.  But this should not be the kind of activity we just take for granted, and I think that something needs to be done to prevent the kind of behavior that no one here wants to continue.  I would hope that something can be done to clean up that abandoned building and keep that from being an attractive hangout for those who would swipe things from cars.

In addition, if anyone has any information that would help solve this crime, that would be very much appreciated, but I have no illusions that this will ever be solved.  It is also worth noting that some residents near the scene of the burglary mentioned that there had been quite a few crimes in that area recently. 

15 comments:

Gus said...

I wonder who are the owners of this building? I believe they may be liable for aiding and abetting criminal activity through negligence or failure to secure their property.

Andrew said...

I wrote about them in the previous post, which is linked at the top. It's owned by Rebecca Ong Roumel Trustee.

http://newcolumbiaheights.blogspot.com/2011/04/abandoned-house-watch-saga-of-1483.html

Gus said...

ah...just read your previous article and since the owners are local, they may be liable for some civil action from the victims of crimes in that area.

Given that they just had the property transferred to them so recently, I wonder if they either officially know of their liability or if they could even afford the property expenses.

Anonymous said...

Many of the abandoned buildings in the neighborhood today are a result of speculative land development of the housing bubble. An indirect result of developments like the Allegro. Ironic isn't it.

W Jordan

Anonymous said...

As usual, William Jordan is wrong on about 10 different levels. The development of the Allegro should only serve as a catalyst for redevelopment of 1483 Newton.

Tim said...

noticed this Prince of Petworth Horses Ass nomination for the building: http://www.princeofpetworth.com/2010/10/horses-ass-award-nominee-1483-newton-st-nw/

Also, I am the reader who sent the email to Andrew about the burglary. I have gotten replies to this email thus far from Jim Graham and the district MPD Commander. Will post an update if I get any new info.

Anonymous said...

Wrong, Allegro help to undermine development along 14th ST. The project failed/underperformed both in terms of neighborhood development and as an investment. Which is why it ended up being auctioned off before it was foreclosed on. It was part of the speculative bubble boom. It only added grown floor retail after a push for accountability from the community, otherwise it would have been a total piece of crap. And would have provided no substantive community benefit. They helped to block streetscape improvements up 14th St.

W Jordan

Tim said...

I live at Allegro, but dont know a ton about its history. I have my problems with it had have heard about some of their previous struggles, but considering the timing, I imagine some of that was just bad luck. From what I have read, the Allegro developers at least tried to do something with 1483 Newton, which is to their credit. And I would say that besides the still empty retail space and horribly designed parking garage entrance, Allegro turned out being a pretty good thing in the end, despite any SNAFUs on the way there.

Anonymous said...

The energy and sacrifice public/private/personal put into the revitalization of Columbia Heights deserves better than "pretty good", especially given there were other options and commitments.

It was not a matter of bad timing, it was a developer attempting to exploit the market in a highly speculative manner, using political connections to push a poor project through. Similar to Level 2's View 14. CM Graham even attempted to bailout Allegro with a tax abatement out of affordable housing funds. Shameful, all the way around.

Parking was not designed to work, but as another think to sell in a bubble economy. The project was purely a financial scam.

William

Anonymous said...

Once again, a post has been hijacked by William Jordan to serve his own needs and advance his own agenda. Andrew- you have the patience of a saint for indulging him- Kudos for the mention in the Citypaper, but sad to see everything positive attempted by this post drown in the fever-swamp of William Jordan's Donatelli/Graham obsessed mind.

Anonymous said...

:)

The site was going to be used by the city to provide housing/apartments for Homeless Families impacted by the housing bubble. CM Graham, knowing the negative reaction likely from some in this community killed the deal. Seems we'd rather have an abandoned building than family who don't meet the image of a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. Another proud moment.

W Jordan

Anonymous said...

That's crazy, William. There are already hundreds if not thousands of units of subsidized, below-market rate housing in Columbia Heights. The large Cavalier Apartments are right around the corner. What Newton Street needs is more market rate housing to balance things out a bit. The building should be restored to it's likely original purpose as privately-owned rental or condominium units.

Anonymous said...

First, I explained what the government's plans were for the building.

Second, you are hard of learning, there is/was almost no such thing as housing in Columbia Heights that is not subsidized. We don't/didn't have a true market which is why it crashed and developers had to be bailed out.

Thirdly, at least from my experiences as a whole I have not found people who live in so-called market rate housing to be better people or neighbors than those that live in so-called subsidized housing.

Fourth, I would tend to agree that the housing gap is in what is now called workforce housing, which is really market housing. Allegro is really substandard housing for our market.

W Jordan

Anonymous said...

"I have not found people who live in so-called market rate housing to be better people or neighbors than those that live in so-called subsidized housing."

I'm going to call bullshit here. If that were the case, William, you'd live right at 14th and Girard instead of where you do. Nobody is arguing that certain people are better than certain other people, but what is obvious here is that a CONCENTRATION of povery is a bad thing, and Columbia Heights already has such clusters in abundance. I have no objection to scattered site subsidized housing, but turning entire buildings, blocks, and neighborhoods into dumping grounds for the poor is a recipe for failure and the continued cycle of poverty.
In this particular case, with a gorgeous historic buildings at risk of demolition by neglect, in my opinion a complete, high-end restoration would be an appropriate way to preserve the historic details and contribute to the block, which has had some difficulties in the past.

Anonymous said...

As is usual, you are among those who attempt to have it both ways, by avoiding facts, data, statistics, history and reality.

At at least in Columbia Heights we are seeing that housing bubble based gentrification as public policy is little better than the public policy of benign neglect which concentrated and isolated poverty in may respects.

Bubble based housing policies have raised real estate values to unsustainable levels. One result is an increase in homelessness and higher unemployment and bailouts/failures for developers of luxury condos. The city supposedly to avoid real concentration of poverty looked to acquire the building to have these neighbors in a relatively much less dense, isolated building. In apartments versus barracks like unstable settings.

However, you oppose both old style large concentrated subsidized poverty and the alternative and integrated approach. You are not interested in the full program designed to address the issues of past policies the city was looking to implement. You don't seem to want the abandoned building that the market seems to have created making this a so-called market rate building.

Therefore, I can only reasonably conclude that you would rather have an abandoned building than "those people" in the neighborhood. But you would welcome "market rate people" because they are not better than "those people"? No, but because you believe, "market rate people" are significantly better than, "those people".

I am hard on CM Graham for good reason, but in this case and many other he is responding to the biases and ignorance of some of his constituents who are really just looking for ways to discriminate without getting their hands dirty.

I would oppose the city spending $3.1M for the building, but at a good price that building would be idea for such a program.

What the saga of this building underscores is we are not serious about quality of life or diversity in this neighborhood or city. Just so-called liberal hypocrites.

W Jordan