Thursday, December 27, 2012

Abandoned apartment building at 1483 Newton finally moving towards development

It's a Christmas miracle! I received an email from Councilmember Jim Graham saying that 1483 Newton Street NW, the long-abandoned apartment building at right, is finally moving towards getting redeveloped. 
Peter Bonnell of Urban Investment Partners informs me that on December 21 they went to settlement on this longstanding nuisance property. This is good news! It has been a very long struggle by the neighborhood, ANC, and myself to get this property back into productive use. We are not there yet, but this is surely a critical step.
As you may recall, 1483 Newton has long been in a bee in my bonnet (if I wore a bonnet) -- it's a big building that could be potentially very nice (see its neighbors at right) but has long been abandoned.

The owners were relatives who inherited it after the owner died, but they couldn't agree on whether to sell it or what, meaning it just sat, got more run-down, and collected tax bills. That delay, which seems to be as long as anyone can remember, resulted in them owing more than $130,000 in back taxes, which they did pay off, the property getting taxed at the higher, blighted tax rate of $10 per $100 assessed value, rather than $1 per $100, and finally getting threatened with condemnation. The place was apparently also a place crooks used to look through stolen merchandise.

But finally in the case of 1483 Newton, the owners came to their senses.

I've written about 1483 Newton many, many times before, and it's an interesting, if frustrating, saga. I guess you can't do much to force people who don't want to do anything. Thanks to the ANC, DCRA, and Jim Graham for keeping on this.

I've long been an opponent of abandoned buildings (see the Abandoned House Watch series) -- they mean that building can't be used for something useful like housing or businesses, they mean the city can't collect tax revenue there, and they're eyesores -- and as above, they can be havens for crime, too. But abandoned buildings can always be saved -- the abandoned first house on my blog's masthead, for example, is now a nicely renovated building with residents.

But that requires all of us to help. If you see an abandoned or derelict building, please report it! The more reports, the better. And it never hurts to email Jim Graham and tip me off about it, so I can see if I can dig up anything on it.


  1. this is great news indeed. I live 2 doors down from 1483 and have been hoping for this since I moved in 5 years ago.

    The one thing I am slightly concerned about is critter control once that demo work gets rolling... I hope the developers take measures to prevent a rat/roach exodus...

  2. I looked up the Roumel family members that were listed on some of the documents. Looks like this is some family of privilege and access. There is an entry of Roberta Roumel as a guest at the residence of the white house 4/6/11 and Katie Roumel is a producer in hollywood associated with movies like "Boys don't Cry" she even has an IMDB entry. That explains how 130K of back taxes get paid and how they were sheltered by the DC government for so long. Well it is good that this house belongs to other now and work can be done on it to make it an actual home and not just a blight on the city. I just hope they don't own anymore properties in the city and we are rid of the Roumel family


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