What could make a neighbor wistful about a large subsidized housing project that is planned for the site of a once historic building? A giant, trash-filled, oozing hole in the ground where the building once stood. One year after plans were released, Washington Communities Inc. (WCI) demolished a dilapidated, historic apartment building (pictured below) at 809 Kennedy Street in January to make way for a District-subsidized housing project. Shortly after demolition, neighbors notified authorities about a smelly, gray, leaking liquid left over after the building came down. The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) investigated the property, gave the owner opportunity to respond, and is now fixing the problem with District contractors. District officials intend to file upwards of $10,000 in fines and costs for the muck-filled carcass that it was left to clean when the site was seemingly abandoned.
Michael Rupert, Communications Manager for DCRA, said his team is currently on site cleaning the mess left behind by the contractors, New System Demolition and Excavation, and will probably be busy for at least another three days. New System tore down the building, but quit before removing any of the debris when the property owners allegedly failed to pay for the demolition and cleanup. Since January, debris of brick, wire and metal have filled in the empty foundation. When the snow melted and rain came, the foundation filled with run-off, hence the ungodly smell filling the street.
Sadly, the owner tore down the 2-story, 16-unit apartment building, with some architectural significance, partially because DCRA required the demolition in response to complaints about derelict living conditions in the former housing project. The former landlord - owner of what the Washington Post called "one of the most troubled buildings in the city," and that has now left a rotting cesspool in its place - plans a 70-unit affordable housing project on site. Subsidized, presumably, with tax dollars. According to DC tax assessment records, WCI President, Richard Deeds has owned the property since May 2002. DCRA will recoup costs by placing a lien on the property, which will either be paid in any sale of the property or levied against next year's taxes, according to Rupert. Until the contractors complete draining the stagnant water and removing debris, the actual total cost is unclear.
WCI previously bought out the building's tenants following complaints of below-freezing temperatures from residents, critiques from the DC Council and a lack of funds of DCRA. Kind of makes you pine for the handsome building the city let them tear down without, it seems, much of a plan.
Washington, DC real estate development news