It’s not uncommon to revisit a place from the past, in hopes of a stroll down memory lane, and find instead that favorite haunts have turned over, and familiar buildings have been torn down. It is less common, however, to visit your home and find it torn down.
This is what happened to Rafat Azzam and his property at 1053 44th Street, NE, in the Deanwood neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Azzam bought the property from CitiMortage Inc. on April 29th, 2010 for $32,000 (plus additional settlement costs near $1000). It was razed in early October of 2010 by Rightway Development Inc., a Virginia- based construction, demolition and development services company, which was hired by property-management company, Safeguard Properties LLC, a Delaware LLC, which was hired by CitiMortage Inc.
Prior to Azzam’s purchase, previous owners defaulted on their mortgage and on October 17th, 2008, and CitiMortage purchased the property on April 7th, 2009 at a public auction run by Alex Cooper Auctioneers, with a bid of $256,122.12.
According to the D.C. Recorder of Deeds, Azzam's purchase on April 29, 2010 was “filed out of order,” on August 19th, 2010. The deed was refiled and processed on December 27th, 2010.
Between this time – August and December – the house was razed. Rightway Development had applied for a raze permit a year earlier, in October of 2009, and the permit was issued by the D.C. Permit Operations Division on August 20th, 2010 – a day after the original "misfiled" deed. Rightway razed the property less than two months after obtaining a permit, in early October of 2010. Azzam visited his property on October 21st, 2010 when he was “shocked” to find it missing; in its place a chain link fence bearing Rightway Development signage.
Azzam moved to D.C. from Egypt in order to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and had sold his property in Egypt “for approximately four percent of its value” in order to buy a house in D.C. to live in while he completed his education, as states the legal document filed with the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on February 22nd, 2011.
Azzam maintains that he was waiting on permits to renovate the house before moving in. He also claims to have had $15,000 to $20,000 in personal property in the house at the time it was razed. Azzam is suing Rightway Development, Safeguard Properties, and CitiMortage for $1.3 million in damages and personal property compensation.
Washington D.C. real estate news