Friday, November 11, 2011

Full Raze Petition Rebuked by HPO for New Jersey Ave Houses

The Third Street Church of God will now plump for a full demolition of three historic rowhouses on New Jersey Avenue, a turnaround from their original plans to only partially raze the structures. The Church got a preliminary okay from DC's Historic Preservation Office (HPO), then got support from the Historic Preservation Review Board in June, both for a partial (not full) demolition of its property at 1232-1236 New Jersey Avenue, NW. After HPRB approved the partial raze request, the Church immediately asserted it would fight for a full raze, as the Church seemed to have felt pressured into partial preservation.

Making good on that promise, the Church is seeking to fully demolish the property by petitioning the Mayor's Agent with the plea of economic burden, a move that the HPO has just opposed.

The three rowhouses next to the Church on New Jersey Avenue date back to 1866, but have become severely decrepit in the last few decades of life. Still, HPRB determined that the front fa├žades and brick party walls of the rowhouses maintained their integrity and could be braced and retained, resulting in the call for partial preservation this summer.

The most recent HPO report opposing the Church's full raze petition says "The conditions at 1234 and 1236 can largely be blamed on 20 years of deferred maintenance...the Board has always stood against approving razes of buildings brought to a state of dilapidation by lack of maintenance, as approval would not only result in the loss of historic fabric and character in the particular, but would reward and encourage such neglect in general."

If the Mayor's Agent does approve the Church's petition for a full raze, then the cleared site would be incorporated into the Church parking lot, in order to offset the 15 spaces (in the 32 space lot) that will be lost due to the addition on its property at 1208 3rd St.

Washington D.C. real estate development news


IMGoph on Nov 11, 2011, 3:30:00 PM said...

so who serves as "mayor's agent" on this? will it be harriet tregoning?

Anonymous said...

This proposal would destroy three buildings to create about 5 parking spots. There is also no guarantee they could even use these lots as parking, because it is expressly forbidden in the R-4 zone.

Instead, they can sell these lots for around $1M, which could pay for a gold-plated shuttle to the Metro or a nearby parking lot.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Harriet Tregoning.

IMGoph on Nov 11, 2011, 4:05:00 PM said...

Kelly: Great, thanks. Now I know who needs to be petitioned...

Anonymous said...

I can't even imagine that a civic-minded church would propose demolishing an historic property for parking. What is wrong with these people?

Ace said...

Where can we petition to raze the church instead?

Richard Layman on Nov 12, 2011, 7:22:00 AM said...

Mayor's Agent proceedings are "legal" ones. Therefore, communicating to HT outside of the official is considered ex parte communication and is "illegal."

IMGoph on Nov 12, 2011, 8:30:00 AM said...

Richard: Yipes! Nevermind, then.

Anonymous said...

Churches have engaged in demolition by neglect for too long. The parking lot will be used one day a week for a few hours. This does NOT help the neighborhood at all. It is all tax free property. This does not help the neighborhood at all. I suggest the church sell all their property in DC and move out to where their congregants live. I am tired of having to deal with churches in the neighborhoods that do not serve the neigborhood.

Anonymous said...

Wait - you think large swaths of nontaxable land are not in DC's best interest? Gosh, that just seems too logical for the DC government to understand. At least the church isn't building a huge section 8 complex for all the "unfortunate congregants" (i.e. thugs and gang bangers) to use as home base to terrorize the whole neighborhood from.

Anonymous said...

Will Mayor Gray allow his adminstration to be associated with tearing down historic properties to build... a Paring lot?

I hope not. He won't gain any friends (at least Dc voting ones) by this action. Let's see if he get's campaign contributions from the church after this happens.

Anonymous said...

Update: A new Mayor's Agent has been appointed for this fiscal year - Peter Byrne, a law professor at Georgetown University.

HPO notified me and is updating its website (being Veterans Day Friday, that is where I pulled info).

Bobbi Krengel said...

Thank you, Kelly, for keeping on this story.
Its the sense of entitlement which allows the church to define all situations in terms of their own self-interest which is astounding.
After permission was granted to allow demolition of the rear portions the church came back again seeking total demolition.
They willfully ignore the clear regulations against accessory parking in the R4 district.
When asked at the ANC 6C ZPE committee in June 2011 why the church never rented out the houses, a man answered that they couldn't because it was a "bad neighborhood".
The church has never paid the penalty property tax rates on vacant or blighted property, as confirmed by an unnamed person @ the vacant properties office who stated that the properties are "on their way" to being registered as blighted, but not there yet. The tax bill is still being calculated at the class one rate, and even once the status is corrected, the blighted rate will not be applied in arrears. So the pastor's definition of having been "paying through the nose" is disingenuous, because they have clearly beaten the taxes on this. If they can demo before the new status and rate are applied, they will have beaten it altogether.
But then again, also disingenuous is her definition of hardship as failure to receive grants that were sought to renovate the properties.
This sense of entitlement is universal among those who practice demolition by neglect and landbanking.

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