Posted tagged ‘Popup construction’

Update on Pop-up at 454 Park Road

September 16, 2015

I’ve had a few people reach out to me to let me know that construction has resumed on the pop-up at 454 Park Road, NW. After checking with DCRA, I can confirm that this is alright, the Stop Work Order (SWO) has been lifted. One of the issues leading to the SWO originally was that in removing the front yard, the structure became a 4-story structure in the R-4 Zone, which only allows 3-story structures.

Below is the full response I received from DCRA:

The stop work order has been lifted on this property. It is typical business to remove a stop work order once the issue of permitting has been corrected. The contractor submitted a new set of plans on 05/15/2015 for correction to the height and number of units at this property. A new building permit B1507295 was issued on 07/30/2015 for Revision to permit number B1403570 to include excavation of front, side and rear yard new areaway at front and rear, penthouse, fence and rooftop deck. changes to 3rd floor addition. Revision to include changes to previously approved MEP Plans. Permit was approved for 3 units change to 2 units.

This plan calls for the grade to be replaced at the property to reduce the number of stories. Third party inspections are not allowed at this property.

Below are photos showing where the development is currently.

454 Park Road

454 Park Road

What’s Going on at 454 Park Road?

May 28, 2015
454 Park Road, NW, inactive as DCRA works to

454 Park Road, NW, inactive as DCRA reviews permits.

Over the past several weeks I’ve received several questions wanting to know what’s going on with 454 Park Road, NW. Those familiar with the property will know that permits to add a third story to the building were originally applied for back in June 2014. The developer, Taja Investments, proceed to pull permits and begin their redevelopment of the property.

In February 2015, Councilmember Nadeau’s office reached out with a question concerning a complaint they received about the property that was the result of the yard being dug out and lowered to street grade. Later that month I began to work with DCRA when unpermitted popups began on Princeton Place and other areas nearby. In passing, I asked DCRA to explain how height was measured at 454 Park Road — the reason being that without the front yard the building appeared to be much taller than it otherwise would be, and such construction seemed to be contrary to the Zoning Code. What followed was a full review of the plans in order to explain how the property complies with DC’s zoning regulations.

The simple question on height — which is answered in that height is measured from the center of a building where it meets the ground at the time the permit is issued — has morphed into a much bigger issue. Apparently the construction and building at 454 Park Road are not entirely in sync with the plans that were reviewed by DCRA when the permits were issued. This has triggered a broader review of the project.

In reviewing permit applications received by DCRA from April 24 through May 14, 2015, The following notice was included:

Revision to permit number B1403570 to include excavation of front, side and rear yard, new areaway at front and rear, penthouse, fence and rooftop deck. changes to 3rd floor addition. Revision to include changes to previously approved MEP Plans. Permit was approved for 3 units change to 2 units.

While it looks like Taja has its work cut out for it to make the building comply with DCRA’s permitting process, there is a bigger issue that still hasn’t been resolved and not noted in the permit applications — the building’s size. While the building’s height complies with the R-4 height restrictions, the building itself does not. By removing the front yard the developer created a four-story building and buildings can only be three-stories in the R-4 Zone. There are only three ways I know of that could solve this problem:

  1. The developer could put the yard back in at the original grade, which isn’t likely to happen with all the “improvements” that have already been constructed;
  2. The developer could remove the original third story, bringing the property into compliance as a three-story building; or,
  3. The developer could seek a zoning variance and hope that they would be allowed to have a four-story building.

It is too early to tell how this will end or what recommendations DCRA may make. However, I feel strongly that zoning variances should be considered and settled prior to construction, not retroactively pursued to permit construction that otherwise would not have been approved.

454 Park Road(With the front yard lowered to grade, 454 Park Road is now considered to be a four-story structure and non-compliant with the R-4 zone.)

Public Comment Period on Pop-Up Regulations Open Through June 1st

May 21, 2015

Regardless of where you stand on Zoning Case No. 14-11 — aka the Pop-Up Regulations — if this issue is something important to you you’re going to want to send in your comments to the Zoning Commission before June 1st (the comment period began on May 1st). While there are many items in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking of interest, to me the most important issue needing community input is implementation — should the Pop-Up Regulations be implemented immediately upon approval or should there be a delayed implementation date?

Below is the announcement from the Office of Zoning Web site:

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Zoning Commission Case No. 14-11 – Text Amendments to Chapters 1, 3, 4, 26, and 31, Maximum Height and Minimum Lot Dimension Requirements and Use Permissions in the R-4 District – or the “Pop-Up” Regulations will be published on Friday, May 1st , in the D.C. Register. The public comment period will open on May 1st and close on June 1st. If you wish to submit documents, please do so by email to, by mail or hand delivery to the Office of Zoning, 441 4th Street, NW, Suite 200-S, Washington, DC 20001 or by fax to (202) 727-6072

The proposed rules are intended to address concerns heard by the Commission with respect to what have come to be called “pop ups.” A pop up generally is a row dwelling upon which an addition is constructed that results in the structure visibly rising above the roofs of adjacent dwellings. Pop ups have been on the increase in R-4 Zone Districts where a maximum height of forty (40) feet is permitted and where buildings existing prior to May 12, 1958 may be converted to apartment houses provided there is nine hundred square feet (900 sq. ft.) of land area for each existing and added unit.

For more information about this case, please review a copy of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by clicking here.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Office of Zoning at 202-727-6311 or


PopUp at 511 Kenyon is Intriguing

April 14, 2015
511 Kenyon Street, NW.

511 Kenyon Street, NW.

In walking past 511 Kenyon Street, NW, on first glance it appears to be another of the many PopUps that are occurring throughout our rowhouse neighborhoods. Its neither the best nor worst I’ve seen, with the worst one might say of it being that the dormers seem to be just a little too large when compared to the scale of the original part of the house. However, this is not the typical PopUp. Upon inspection, the overall design of the additional floor and rear addition is more creative than most.

The original building was not popped back. Instead, a walkway has been cut through the right side of the basement granting access to the rear yard where a completely new structure has been built. In checking DCRA’s permitting database, everything seems to be in order, but somewhat difficult to follow. If I’m reading them correctly, it appears that the original house has been converted into a two-unit flat. The rear structure also appears that it may be a two-unit flat, which would total four living units upon completion. The rear of the property also has room for two parking spaces.

This will be an interesting project to watch. This project could be trend setting as the rear lots of the neighboring rowhouses are equally deep.

IMG_8570(After walking through a causeway through the original house, the visitor is greeted by this new structure separated from the original house by a small courtyard.)

IMG_8571(A view from the alley, wit the new structure in front, and the original house behind.)

Permits Issued for More Popups in the Neighborhood

March 20, 2015

In looking at permitting information, the following two neighborhood properties can be added to the list of single family houses getting popups and being converted into apartments/condos.

733 Princeton Place

733 Princeton Place

A permit was issued on March 9, 2015, to convert 733 Princeton Place into a flat with a new 3rd floor.

733 Princeton has been a troubled property. A little more than a year ago it was flipped and on the market as a single family home. Before it could got to closing, the development partners got in a dispute with one of them removing the appliances and trashing the house with a chainsaw. This time around, with a different developer, the house will be popped up and converted to flats.

3223 Warder Street, NW

3223 Warder Street, NW

The other property headed for a popup is 3223 Warder Street, which was issued a permit on March 18, 2015. According  to the permit, the scope of work is to “convert single family house into 4 units. Building renovation and enhancement and third floor addition.”

3223 Warder is on a huge lot, and two other houses just to the south of it are also gutted and being redeveloped. The clip below from the DC Zoning Map shows the lot (highlighted) indicating how large it is in relationship to other lots on the block.

3223 Warder map(Map from the DC Zoning Atlas).

Illegal PopUps Only Further Existing Community Concerns

March 17, 2015
Detail from Stop Work Order.

Detail from Stop Work Order.

In looking around the immediate community, its hard not to spot construction dumpsters, and popups. With so much permitted work going on, it seems like some builders are jumping the gun hoping their unpermitted construction will not get challenged. Here are two examples which jumped out at me. Not so much because work beyond the scope of the permits was being done, but because both were placarded with Stop Work Orders, only to get second Stop Work Orders citing failure to comply with the first Stop Work Orders (i.e. they continued to work without first adhering to the terms of the original Stop Work Orders).

431 Quincy Street, NW

431 Quincy Street, NW.

431 Quincy Street, NW

The first property is located at 431 Quincy Street, NW. In checking DCRA’s permitting database, a permit was issued on November 13, 2014, for interior demolition of non-bearing elements in a space up to 5,000 square feet (464.5 square meters). Another permit was issued December 4, 2014, for interior renovation work as per plans with mechanical, electrical and plumbing work to be done. None of the permits described a third story addition, which is probably why a Stop Work Order was issued on February 6, 2015, for “ILLEGAL CONSTRUCTION/WORKING WITHOUT A PERMIT.” As a side note, presuming this popup is completed, it will negatively impact the solar roof panels of the abutting homeowner at 433 Quincy Street, NW.

As the photo below shows, it is a deep lot and it appears that the house’s footprint is going to expand quite a bit as well.

431 Quincy (431 Quincy viewed from the alley.)

729 Princeton Place, NW

The other property is at 729 Princeton Place, NW, which not only began to build a popup without a permit, they decided to begin this work on a Sunday. In this case, it wasn’t DCRA which originally stopped the work, but rather our local police. Again, in looking at the permit database, I find that a permit was issued on December 4, 2014, for “INTERIOR RENOVATION WORK AS PER PLANS WITH MECHANICAL, ELECTRICAL AND PLUMBING WORK TO BE DONE.” As with 431 Quincy, 729 Princeton Place has two Stop Work Orders posted — the first one is for “Illegal Construction/Working without a permit,” which in this case was for working on a Sunday and building a popup, which clearly isn’t interior work. They received their second Stop Work Order for going back to work on the property a few days later without correcting the original violations.

729 Princeton(729 Princeton Place, currently idle due to constructing a popup without the proper permits.)

Regardless of what one’s views are on the pros and cons of Popups, unpermitted/illegal work is cause for concern as it can adversely impact abutting property owners and result in unsafe living environments.


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