Monday, August 14, 2006

New Feature: Derelict Property of the Week

One of the less attractive aspects of Shaw, despite all that gentrification we always hear about, is the abundance of decaying, seemingly abandoned properties. So I thought I’d feature one such property each week, along with as much information about the owner as I could dig up.

With so many to choose from, why not start close to home? (Suggestions are hereby solicited for next week’s featured ruin; descriptive details are most welcome.)

This lovely property at 509 O Street is owned by Beverly Bakeir of 2010 13th Street, NW. According to public DC records, she purchased the property for $20,000 in February 2000. The tax records show two units (A and B) at that address, which is odd because the building has no floors at all and is completely uninhabitable.

The current tax assessment totals $144,740 ($101,220 for the land), but according to the on-line database, tax bills totaling $2,943.98 dating back to 2005 remain unpaid.

According to DCRA, the owner has had work permits dating back to September 2003, but strangely enough, virtually none of the work has ever been completed. A permit was issued on January 28, 2005 for “renovating and restoring existing 2 family flat [sic] as per plans.” Another was issued on July 18, 2005 for “underpinning of existing basement, repair existing stairs in front and rear, replace iron railing in front.”

Neighbors report that the owner has hired homeless men to excavate dirt out of the basement with shovel and bucket at various times starting last summer, and a couple of dumpsters have been filled with the spoil and hauled away. After a period of inactivity lasting several months, another dumpster appeared about three weeks ago and was filled with dirt by a different laborer, but that was hauled away after the owner was observed in an animated conversation with a DC government employee. Since then, there has been no discernible work activity at the address.

Given the amount of time that has elapsed since the permits were issued, and the nugatory progress achieved toward renovation, is it too much to wonder if the permits are not just a ruse to avoid the punitive tax applied to buildings officially declared abandoned? Just asking.


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