Friday, June 24, 2011

Raze Request for 1860s Rowhouses

Three historic row houses, at 1232-1236 New Jersey Avenue, NW, in the Mount Vernon Square Historic District, are up for demolition. The raze request submitted in February by the property owner, the Third Street Church of God, will be reviewed by the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) next week, on June 30th. The HPRB will decide the fate of the badly decrepit row houses, vacant now for over two decades.

At first glance, the property looks unimpressive. Upon further inspection, and considering the 140-year history, the three residential row houses can be seen in a new light, or at least given a nod. However, the property is the worse for its 14 decades.

Director of Church Operations at Third Street Church of God, Theodore (Ted) Daniels, says that demolition is "one of the options" being pursued by the Church and if this route is pursued that the created "space will be used for parking" for church attendees. The Third Street Church of God has been at its location - next door - at 1246 New Jersey Avenue, NW for over a century.

Rob Amos, chair of the ANC 6C Planning, Zoning, and Environment (PZE) Committee, and president of Mount Vernon Square Neighborhood Association (MVSNA), says that the amount of parking that would be created is unimpressive, and that the PZE moved to oppose the raze request at the PZE meeting on June 1st. The full ANC 6C Commission meeting, however, split 3-3-1 and the ANC "took no action on the request [of the PZE]."

Bobbi Kengel, concerned citizen, says she was "shocked to discover that there could still be a real possibility of demolition of historic rowhouses within a designated historic district."

But, the "real story," according to Kengel, is that "churches and universities are still being allowed to commit demolition by neglect in large numbers, and they aren't even being taxed at the vacant or blighted rates." Rebecca Miller, Executive Director of the DC Preservation league, agreed that property owners should not be able to commit demolition by neglect. According to Amos, "Pastor Sanders [of the Third Street Church of God] testified that [the property] had been vacant for at least 20 years. The Church has been using them for storage for quite a while now."

Washington D.C. real estate development news


IMGoph on Jun 24, 2011, 3:15:00 PM said...

Kelly: These houses are in the Mt. Vernon Square Historic District, not the Mount Vernon Triangle Historic District.

See the map here (PDF) for the difference.

4n0n said...

1. I feel like this is a case where we're confusing "old" with "historic". Even though these are in a historic district, do we know whether these are contributing structures? Put otherwise, is there anything worthwhile about them at all, other than the fact that they were built a long time ago?

2. That said, a parking lot - especially one that sits empty 6 days a week - would probably be worse for the surrounding area and historic district than these blighted buildings.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I am tired of churches tearing down what could become good housing stock for parking lots. THe lots are empty 6 1/2 days a week, are not fully utilized, and do not contribute to DC life at all. Let the church sell the properties they own and go to the suburbs where their congregants are and leave city neighborhoods alone. I am not happy with the churches in DC that have suburban congregants that contribute little or nothing to the city.

Anonymous said...

If the structures are in bad shape, only the Church can be blamed. There is no reason why it should be rewarded by being allowed to demolish historic structures.

The city policy is, or ought to be that these houses should be restored and returned to functional use, either by the Church or a third party.

Anonymous said...

Save the buildings!!! With the mass of new development in the pipe line and the amount of background historic fabric that DC lost in the anti-urban/historic years between 1950 and 1980, even these humble structures will be important contributors to the character of the older neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...

This church and several others in the city should be ashamed of their actions. They are not contributing to the good of the neighborhoods they reside in. Two churches here just west of the convention center on N Street own several lots that sit empty on Sunday but full during the work week because they lease out the spaces. The residents of this neighborhood get the traffic, noise, honking, trash, crime, and speeding drivers during rush hours on our residential streets while the churches enjoy the cash and no taxes on these lots. These lots should be filled with homes, not asphalt.

Lydia on Jun 26, 2011, 10:41:00 AM said...

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