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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Home Again in Shaw

D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham announced yesterday that four properties in Ward One will be renovated after years of disrepair and neglect: 1915 6th Street, NW, 902-904 T Street, NW, 744 Harvard Street, NW, and 1428 Perry Place, NW. The renovations are part of the city's Home Again Initiative, which seeks to transform vacant and abandoned residential properties into single-family homeownership opportunities for residents.
One of the announced properties, 902-904 T Street, NW, particularly caught my attention. This highly visible vacant property is located at the corner of 9th and T Streets. It housed the Washington Conservatory of Music from 1903 to 1960 (pictured). Harriet Gibbs Marshall, the first African American to graduate from Oberlin Conservatory of Music, founded the Conservatory. Today, the beautiful old building is boarded up (with brightly painted plywood) in an area that brims with life and renewal. It will be nice to see this historic structure inhabited again.

PHOTO CREDIT: Howard University Archives, available here.


jealous said...

Maybe Graham is the one to kick ol' Shilo in the pants to get going with thier properties....

JonboyDC said...

Unfortunately, Shilo's properties aren't in Graham's district, so I'm not sure he has much pull over them.

I used to live in that block of T Street, and it will be great to have that building fixed up and occupied.

Davester said...

I live directly across from this building and we are personally responsible for getting some "movement" going on this. We were the original ones who finally put enough pressure on the city to take the property away from the previous owners who were scumbags. After that it was immediately bundled into a package of properties to be awarded to a developer by Home Again. Home Again then negotiated terms that they were not allowed to agree to and that brought us to this point (where emergency legislation was required). We have been complaining to Grahams office for over 7 months. My point is, you need to stay vigilant in your requests to the City. It is so true that the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Shaw Rez said...

Davester - Great work and great advice. Thanks so much for sharing.

How did the city take the property away from the prior owners? Tax lien? eminent domain? ____?

Davester said...

The defunct property owners owed more then 25k in back taxes at the time. They finally agreed to have the city purchase the property for $750k (ridiculous!) but it was removed from their possession about 18 months ago. We have been working this process now for about 3 years.

ed said...

Kudos to davester. Keep up the good work.

Home Again sounds like another give-away to developers. Why can't individuals buy run-down properties to fix up and live in?

Instead of fixing the system (like enforcing current laws ie vacant building maintenance standard and 5%class 3 tax rate), the former mayor added another "initiative". I hope Fenty does not follow this pattern.

Davester, the city bought it? I thought they could seize it. Unbelievable. I'd like to expose this on my blog if you are interested.

Jon said...

"Why can't individuals buy run-down properties to fix up and live in?"

If an individual buys a property like that, it may stay run-down for a long time. I've seen too many homes bought as fixer-uppers that never got fixed up. Also, if an individual buys it and fixes it up, it will likely turn into market rate housing before too long. If the city sells it to a developer, there can be long-term contractual obligations that keep the housing affordable for a while.

And the city could just seize the property, but they would be required to sell it at auction in order to get the back taxes (and the owner would get the balance raised in the auction). Once it was sold at auction, the city would have little control over what happened. By buying it, the city is able to impose conditions on whomever they sell the property to.