Archive for the ‘Construction’ category

After Languishing, Development of 723 Morton Street Resumes, But …

August 5, 2011

723 Morton Street

723 Morton Street, NW, has been a problem property for a while. It is one of several construction projects in the area that stalled a few years ago and then languished. Recently, work has resumed and, as you can see from the photo, it doesn’t look like the original plans are being followed. After concerned neighbors contacted me, I reached out to DCRA to see what I could find out.

According to DCRA, the back story of this building is that the original owner built the entire thing without proper permits. The entire site was eventually shut down and the building was left to languish. The new owner was given a chance to obtain proper permits and finally finish the structure.  The problem with getting proper permits for a multi-family building at this location is that the zoning regulations do not allow for a multi-family building.

Power coming into the building shows that the building was originally designed to support 8 apartments

The current owner’s only option, again according to DCRA, was to modify the building to become a 2-family flat which is what they decided to do. Toward this purpose, a building permit was finally issued on May 25th, 2011, for construction of a 2-family flat.

The actual language of the permits is as follows:


While its nice to see that there is an attempt to bring the building into zoning compliance, I still have serious reservations on how a building originally designed to be an eight-unit apartment building will become a two-family residence. I would have preferred that a building that was over designed for the lot and constructed without correct permits be razed. I also question if the building, once completed, will be converted to an apartment building in the future.

723 Morton Street looms above all of its neighbors. It is seen here from the intersection of Morton and Georgia Avenue.


Fire Call Box Harp Returned

July 19, 2011

Reinstalled call box harp

Thanks to all that alerted me to this. I really have to give DDOT props on this one. Less than a week after I called the project manager of the Middle Georgia Avenue Great Streets project, the missing fire call box harp at Princeton Place and Georgia Avenue was reinstalled.

While the location isn’t exactly where it once was, I think just getting it back was a huge accomplishment. With the return of this harp, the Park View area continues to have three of the original twelve fire call boxes that once served the community.

I think just getting the harp back is not enough, though. The next step needs to be to make it an attractive and valuable asset. One way to do that would be to have it serve as a historical marker as many other harps in DC do.


Modernization of York Theater Building Diminishing Historic Character of Structure

July 5, 2011

Work crews cleaning up after removing a portion of the tin fascia

It was with horror that I discovered on Saturday that the Fisherman of Men Church‘s plans to repair and modernize the old York Theater building included removing the tin fascia that runs around the entire building.  To be clear, everything is legal since they have a permit to do exactly what they are doing (issued on 6/24/11). However, I’m quite disgusted that anyone owning a building that is clearly more prominent than any other building in the area would not either dig into the building’s history or engage the community to inform them of their intent.

A representative of the church was on site and I asked them what they had done with the tin that had already been removed. The response was that it had been discarded and was gone. I informed the gentleman that the building was historic and his reply was that they intended to honor that by keeping the arches on the Georgia Avenue side of the building.

This image shows the profile of the York's original tin fascia

Sadly, replacing the discarded fascia will now be a costly undertaking. Repairing the existing fascia prior to the damage would not have been all that costly and may have even been less expensive than the work they are now doing.

While not landmarked, the York Theater building definitely needs to be before further damage can occur. It was built by Kennedy Brothers in 1919 using plans by architect Reginald W. Geare for Washington Theater king Harry M. Crandall. The York was Crandall’s eighth movie house in the city. All of the individuals involved in the creation of the York are noted in their own right and associated with other structures already protected by landmark status.

Landmarked buildings associated with Edgar S. Kennedy, the leading individual of Kennedy Brothers, include Meridian Mansions (the Envoy, 2400 16th Street,  NW), the Kennedy-Warren, and many of the houses in the Mt. Pleasant Historic District.

Buildings designed by Reginald W. Geare that have landmark status include the Lincoln Theater (built 1921) and the Southern Aid Building/Dunbar Theater (built 1921). He is best known as the architect for the Knickerbocker Theater, which collapsed in January 1922 after a massive snow storm.

Harry M. Crandall was a pioneer in the movie industry, being among the first to own and operated a string of movie houses on a large-scale. Both the Lincoln Theater and Tivoli were among his many theaters. The York was completed two years before the Lincoln and five years before the Tivoli.

State of fascia replacement at the York Theater building as of July 4, 2011


Renovation of 2922 Sherman Avenue Off to a Good Start

June 29, 2011

Walking back from Columbia Heights the other day I noticed the progress of 2922 Sherman Avenue (just south of Columbia Rd). I’m typically not a fan of older buildings getting popped up by an additional floor … but in this case I’ll have to make an exception.

If more builders actually considered scale and form when reconstructing an existing building — as this one seems to be doing, I’d be far more supportive of builders and renovators. I think the new roof line is also compatible with other buildings in the neighborhood. You can get a good sense of what this building once looked like by viewing its twin, located a few doors to the south at 2914 Sherman Avenue (below)


Luray Place Renovation Takes Interesting Turn

May 18, 2011

This is one house remodeling project that really has me stumped. 469 Luray Place sold in November 2010 for $251,990. Admittedly, it needed some work to bring it back … but when I last looked at it I really couldn’t figure out the rational behind the direction it is going.

The most recent direction the house has gone was to have the two bay windows along Warder Street removed. I’ll have to keep an eye on this to see if this means that the house will have an addition or actually be decreased in size.

According to the permits on the front it still looks like the house is intended to be a single family home with a rental in the basement. I think this is good. On the other hand, I think it’s sad, but not unexpected, that the debris pile in the back yard contains the original hardwood pocket doors, newel post, and stair railing.

As part of the modernization process the bay windows have been removed from 469 Luray Place, NW


Great Streets Project Brings New Street Lights to Northern Park View

May 17, 2011

The Middle Georgia Avenue Great Streets project is finally beginning to show a positive impact on the portion of Park View that is included in the project. New street light bases and poles have been installed between Princeton Place and New Hampshire Avenue. Hopefully it won’t be too long before they can continue them down to Otis Place, the projects southern terminus.

The length of the project is between Webster Street to the north and Otis Place to the south. DDOT estimates that it is approximately 58% completed with an end date of November 2011. The construction contract amount for the project is $7,906,624.05.


May 2011 Update for Middle Georgia Avenue Great Streets Project.

May 11, 2011

DDOT has issued another periodic update for progress on the Middle Georgia Avenue Great Streets project which runs between Webster Street, NW, and Otis Place, NW. You can read the outline of what DDOT is currently working on below.

Additionally, residents interested in development along Georgia Avenue may consider attendting the ANC 1A Meeting tonight. Tarek Bolden of the Office of Planning will be presenting the OP’s Georgia Avenue Retail Action Strategy Plan at the ANC meeting. The presentation will be based largely on aspects from the Georgia Ave.-Petworth Action Strategy drafted in December 2009.

DDOT Announcement below:

Middle Georgia Avenue Great Streets Project

Otis Place to Webster Street, NW

Monthly Project Update, May 2011


Georgia Avenue between Otis Place and Princeton Place:

  • Excavation and installation of duct banks – temporary restoration.

Georgia Avenue between Princeton Place and Quebec Place:

  • Excavation and installation of duct banks – temporary restoration.
  • Excavation and installation of new curb and gutter.
  • Install new PCC sidewalk and permeable pavers.

Georgia Avenue between Quebec Place and New Hampshire Ave:

  • Excavation and installation of duct banks – temporary restoration.
  • Excavation and installation of new curb and gutter.
  • Install new PCC sidewalk and permeable pavers. (more…)

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