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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Shiloh’s Vacant Buildings Condemned

Notices went up on some of Shiloh Baptist Church’s vacant properties along the west side of 9th Street today declaring the buildings condemned. Condemnation does not mean that Shiloh can tear down the properties or that demolition is imminent; indeed, as historic buildings, Shiloh’s properties remain protected and anything Shiloh does with them must be consistent with historic preservation law.

The notices reveal that a hearing was held last week and that Shiloh failed to show cause as to why the buildings should not be condemned. Unfortunately the notices do not indicate whether Shiloh attempted to make such a showing.

If Shiloh is sincere about its plans to renovate and utilize these buildings in the future, isn’t it necessary, at very least, to stabilize these buildings now?

Personally, I cannot help but question the effectiveness of Shiloh’s ministry and leadership given the state and extent of their vacant property holdings in the Shaw neighborhood.




Again, thanks to Drew for the story lead and photos.

36 comments:

Shaw Rez said...

FYI, I believe the buildings receiving these notices were 1532, 1534, and 1536 9th Street, NW.

si said...

how confusing, at the end it basicly says fix it OR demolish it (and make sure you clean up after yourself) no mention of historic district, cant demolish...

Shaw Rez said...

Si - I checked with the HP people and was told that these notices do NOT give one the right to demolish when they relate to a historic building, such as these owned by Shiloh. The same wouldn't be the case for a non-historic building.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I don't see how SELLING these properties is not Shiloh's best option! A church - and certainly not this one - is not an expert in real estate development...and the proceeds from a sale could be used to fund useful programs to benefit the poor, contribute to church missions, etc. -- while removing obvious safety hazards. There is simply no excuse!

Anonymous said...

Are there any reasonable people at Shiloh who are in a position to do something to remedy this situation?!

Shaw Rez said...

Anon @ 2:33 - I totally agree. There is no excuse whatsoever.

Anon @ 2:38 - Let's hope so...

jmc39 said...

with all due respect to Shiloh, developing their properties potentially means 3 or more less parking spots for Sunday church goers. doing the moral, Christian, and right thing as you define it is not a motivating factor for Shiloh.

Anonymous said...

Didn't I read/hear something recently about "new" board members at Shiloh that were supposed to be more amenable to actually ACTING on this issue??? Any word on whether that Board transition has taken place?

Shaw Rez said...

Indeed you did (I believe it was a City Paper article, which was linked on this blog).

As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. Or in this case, inaction speaks louder than years of empty promises.

Dave M said...

The Church at some point claimed they could not sell the properties as that was a stipulation on some of the ones that were donated to them from deceased members. How much of that is BS, I would gather all of it.

They have no incentive to do anything with them. They control that block by doing what they have now for decades.

They are a disgrace, plain and simple. I just don't see how they can justify any point.

modthinglet said...

The amount of money they are willing to spend to keep these properties vacant is unbelievable. From 2005 through March of this year, Shiloh has paid $54,804.69 in property taxes on just the 1532 property.

It's hard to believe the congregation is happy about this.

Shaw Rez said...

Dave - IF that's the case (and I seriously doubt that every property they own was acquired with such a stipulation, not to mention the fact that it seems some of the properties may have changed hands already between the church entities), they should consult a lawyer. I have a feeling that even if such a clause existed and if the clas was valid and enforceable (another big, huge if), then there are ways around it.

Modthinglet - very good point; they pay tons in vacant property taxes, monies that could--and should--go towards the church's true mission: affecting lives.

Anonymous said...

ShawRez, I completely agree about these so-called stipulations not to sell - that seems highly doubtful, and also completely unenforceable!

I guess the question is what kind of repairs does the church have to do now to satisfy this order? Probably just some minimal repair job?!? I wonder?? What a disgrace...

I would think the congregants would have strong objections to having church money (and presumably donations) going towards property taxes on vacant, unsafe structures!!

Dave M said...

Re: Sale because of stipulation

I was saying they were using that as a excuse. I too believe it is complete crap. Just like their excuse that they want to turn it into low income housing for seniors. If that is the case then do it. But then they give the excuse that the one house they don't own on the block won't sell, so they can't do it. I guess telling the truth is not a virtue this Church holds.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Dave. If there's any truth to their argument that the one house they don't own on their block won't sell --- it's got to be because who would want to be their neighbor?!?! i.e., living surrounded by condemned buildings!!! warped logic.

Anonymous said...

I looked back at a 2005 article about Shiloh's buildings (and liquor protests), and someone at the church is quoted as saying something like "big plans for the buildings will be struck within the next 6 months." yeah, right. hey, it's May of 2007, pal.

Anonymous said...

My take on it is that they would prefer to raze the dilapidated rowhouse shells to develop a boxy cinder block complex as a drop-in shelter to feed and house homeless and displaced members of the Shaw community. This would serve the dual purpose of supporting their mission and sticking it to the "gentrifiers" who have proven to be a real thorn in their side.

Shaw Rez said...

Dave - sorry; I knew that's what you meant--I didn't mean for my response to sound like an adversarial reaction to what you'd said...

I totally agree with you re: their tired excuses. The excuse about waiting until they own the Marks Electric Building is dumb--after so many years of not owning that building, with no guarantees of any future ability to own it, you'd think they could come up with a plan b by now.


On an unrelated note, there was another news crew in front of the church tonight, fyi... Could it be more bad press??!!

si said...

fyi of those 3 properties, only ONE is taxed as vacant. the others are class 1. Shaw Rez you can report directly to phillip dot miller at dc.gov and allen dot smith at dc.gov

modthinglet said...

Si, I don't know what database you are looking at, but all three of those properties are listed in the tax assessment database as class three vacant. I checked the payments on 1534 for 2006, using the vacant property tax formula and last years assessment, and the payment amounts are correct. I spot checked the payments on several Shiloh properties which are listed as class 3, and they are being taxed as vacant--with the exception of 1533 9th, which I have posted about previously (The tax office has acknowledged the error, and it has been referred to the mayor's office).

Anonymous said...

"big plans for the buildings will be struck within the next 6 months."

That quote was by a one Campbell Johnson of the "Urban Housing Alliance" who was one of the ring leaders of the liquor license witch hunts on 9th Street. He has no official office at Shiloh and isn't in any position to be quoted speaking about their properties. To my knowledge he is only in the chior. Shiloh isn't going to do a damn thing with those properties. Ever!

Mr. Ray said...

This is not the first condemnation nor the last. The preachers will go marching into the city offices, lambaste the officials, and the matter will go away. 20 years ago when we met with the church and Jack Evans (yes, he actually tried to do things for us back then), the church said they wanted to tear down the buildings for a parking garage. I still think this is their prime motivation and are awaiting the opportunity. Don't be surprised when the row goes down one night in a big conflagration --good ole "crack lightning"-- they will blame it on the vagrants who regularly break into the buildings.

Litigation said...

Their buildings are a public nuisance and detrimental to the welfare of the city. Is there a case against Shilo to force them to renovate the buildings and make them safer?

Dave M said...

How about the City taking over the properties via eminent domain? They have done this to other non-compliant owners. They pay them a reasonable market value and then turn them over to the Home Again Initiative. Home Again has it's own problems but I think that is a direction the City must pursue at this point.

Anonymous said...

This is Washington DC... surely one of the readers of this blog is a lawyer who would be willing to take on a pro bono case to sue Shiloh. They are not immune from civil suits are they?

jmc39 said...

Here's the transcript of WJLA Channgel 7 coverage that aired on Wednesday night and re-aired Thursday morning.

http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0507/423737.html

Shaw Rez said...

Dave M - very interesting idea; I'll see what I can find in terms of DC area precedent and who could/would be charged with spearheading this. I fear that the politics of it--particularly Shiloh's political clout--may be a big hinderance to an exercise of eminent domain by the city.

Shaw Rez said...

jmc39 - Thanks for the link! I wish I'd seen it. Interesting that these condemnation signs are cast as a victory for the neighborhood.

si said...

Mod you sure are right, dont know what i was smoking! 1532-1536 9th are all class 3 and taxed as such. ive been researching vacant property for 2 days straight and my brain has gone to mush.

Gil Davidson from DCRA said at the last MVSNA meeting, that vacant property must be fixed up to habitable condition.

Jason said...

So according to the post they have to comply by June 4th. Does anyone know what they have to do? And if they don't what are the repercussions?

Mr Ray said...

Be careful what you wish for, guys. The biggest owner of vacant properties in the city is the city! The second biggest are the churches. Just look at all the vacant city-owned properties west of Ninth above R. Even Williams couldn't get the DC bureauracy to divest of them. Do you think Fenty will do any better?

modthinglet said...

Si, reading the tax records can definitely cause brain rot.

The only bonus from appealing my tax assessment last year was an intense familiarity with the entire Office of Tax and Revenue database.

(hope I'm not double posting)

si said...

ray exactly what i told the DCRA guy the other night, DC is one of the worst offenders when it comes to vacant property.

but there have been some successes. remember the housing lottery? i just talked to a neighbor and was so pleased to learn thats how she got & fixed up her house. Mi Casa has also fixed up places under the small parcel program that followed, one in MVSQ which is now occupied by a nice family.

back to the database i go....

stutterer said said said...

check this out. read the legislation at the bottom of the page. it's a chance to speak out on this issue:

http://anc2c02.com/public/index.php/meeting/2007/05/16/city_council_public_hearing_thurs_may_24

stutterer said said said...

here's the rest of the link:

/16/city_council_public_hearing_thurs_may_24

si said...

more shiloh press today:

http://www.examiner.com/a-734823~Four%20Shaw%20properties%20condemned.html