Posts Tagged vacant property
Now that Busboys & Poets has announced plans to open a restaurant in Anacostia in the spring of 2016 the hard work begins. At last month’s announcement few intimate details of the deal were shared, leaving many familiar with neighborhood development to question the project’s timeline.
The Far SE Family Strengthening Collaborative, which has owned the vacant building at 2004 – 2010 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE since late 2012, is primarily a case management social service provider without a record of development experience. The non-profit will most likely have to rely on a series of substantial city funds from the Department of Employment Services, Department of Housing and Community Development, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and others to make the project possible, according to a developer who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Perry Moon, executive director of the Collaborative, says the community should prepare itself for a “long process.”
What will that process entail? That process will include forming partnerships with a development team and culinary training team and securing financing, none of which appear to be in place.
In late December 2012 the Collaborative purchased the former bowling alley and furniture store for $2.195 million. According to tax records, as of May their outstanding mortgage stood at more than $1.7 million. With a reported revenue, mostly in the form of city grants and case management government transfer payments, after expenses of nearly $0.54 million the Collaborative faces significant capital shortfalls to finance the development.
Since their purchase the property has remained vacant, generating no revenue. Nearly five years ago Unity Healthcare and the DC Primary Care Association identified the building for a new health facility. The neighborhood organized opposition and Unity eventually built a complex adjacent to the Frederick Douglass House.
At the announcement Andy Shallal, founder of Busboys & Poets, indicated he would be signing a 20-year lease. Moon declined to name the conditions of the lease. The Collaborative currently rents offices in the Anacostia Professional Building across the street, and, according to neighborhood sources, plans to relocate at the end of 2015. These present tight deadlines to make a deal.
“They didn’t announce the lease in clear terms,” says Rev. Oliver “OJ” Johnson, a former board member of multiple community development corporations in Anacostia, who began his activism during the administrations of Mayor Washington and President Nixon. “I haven’t seen a prospectus of an agreement detailing what Busboys will or will not contribute to the build out. There’s no evidence there’s any money in this. In order for any bank to underwrite a loan they have to see funding feasibility, the sources of expected grants and other planned revenue streams. There’s nothing here.”
Johnson also questioned the decision making process narrative advanced by the Collaborative. “There’s been no public hearing process or community meetings. There was one or two invite-only meetings. Not one 8A Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner spoke at the press conference. They haven’t been given notice of what their script is. Last [month’s] event was improvised to the fullest.”
“There are no current plans for funding for this redevelopment because none has been applied for,” wrote Marcus A. Williams, Community Outreach Director for DHCD. “However, DHCD has had ongoing conversations with both the Collaborative and Busboys to discuss what subsidies the Department might be able to offer through an open and transparent competitive process. The developer is welcome to submit a proposal to request support for this project next spring when the Department releases information about the 2015 funding competition.”
Summing up sentiments of both the neighborhood and city officials Williams said, “We are excited to see interest in development in Ward 8 and specifically in revitalizing Historic Anacostia.”
The two-story building was constructed in 1940 as a bowling alley and has most recently served as a Masonic lodge and furniture store. Its current space of 20,848 square feet is not enough to house Busboys & Poets on the ground floor and the administrative offices of the Collaborative and a culinary training school on the 2nd floor. Plans to add a third floor and build upon the rear one-story wing passed Historic Preservation Review Board earlier this year and are incorporated into design drawings. Construction would add 7,000 – 10,000 additional square feet.
“The build out will start immediately to bring the building into code and then it will be turned over to Busboys and Poets for our fit out,” Shallal wrote in an email.
According to a Historic Preservation Office staff report by Time Dennee, the building “has hallmarks of the Art Moderne style: uniform light-colored brick, a curved northwest corner, and streamlining suggested by the contrasting, projecting brick flanking the windows and the simple continuous projections above the storefront and as a schematic cornice.”
An addition brings the building’s total height to 45 feet, making it the tallest building within the Anacostia Historic District. Most of the building’s structure – column, beam and slab construction with brick-faced block exterior walls – would be retained and used. The roof and one-story rear wing will be lost with the proposed addition. A storefront in the first-floor facade will also be added.
Signature project for Mayor Bowser?
The lone city employee to speak at last month’s event was the late Councilmember Barry’s chief of staff. The absence of mayor-elect Bowser (who was announced to speak) was telling, according to a number of developers and neighborhood activists in attendance.
“Most likely no current agency director will be around when this project gets started. Nobody can make a promise or a hold a commitment right now. This will have to be a signature project for Muriel’s administration. They’ll have to wait for her to settle in which will take time,” says Johnson.
A developer who spoke on the condition of anonymity offered, “Did you hear Shallal with the one-off applause line, ‘I should have been Mayor!’? Muriel doesn’t want to share the stage with him.”
With Moon giving duplicative answers to a series of questions, including, “How is this really going to happen?” he closed our phone interview by saying, “This will be a long process. We’ll work to see that the community remains excited and enthusiastic and stays with us.”
Around every corner in Old Anacostia another abandominium seemingly appears. At 2245 14th Street SE, across the street from the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, a vacant property with a fluorescent orange notice from DCRA’s Inspections and Compliance Administration taped to the front door sits largely unnoticed.
Built in March 1902 for 4,000 dollars the two story home has a flat roof and a concrete slab covered by an awning for a front porch. Over the last five years, while reporting on the neighborhood, I’ve exchanged greetings with young and middle-aged men who frequently barbecue and have let members of my tour group pet their dogs. In the last year there has been no presence at the home.
Here’s a look inside the home accompanied by a brief history compiled through public tax and property records, newspaper accounts, and word on the street.
The original owner and architect of the home was Charles Lewis. On March 10, 1902 the Evening Star reported, “Building operations are on the increase in Anacostia, the following buildings being under way; A two-story frame dwelling on Pierce Street, for Charles Lewis…” (Although members of the Anacostia Historic Block Association may not know, Pierce Street is the old name for what is today 14th Street SE.)
Lewis appears in the Washington City Directories in the early 1900s. In 1909, he is listed as, “Lewis, Chas, navy yd, 343 Pierce, Anacostia.”
Next, presumably, to live in the house was a lively family; the Satterfields. Under a headline of “GIRL EVADES PARENTS AND BECOMES BRIDE,” the Star put the family’s business in the streets in April 1915.
“When Beatrice Satterfield failed to return to her home Saturday evening the suspicions of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Satterfield, 2245 14th Street southeast, were aroused, for Beatrice had recently been seen in the company of Phillip Catalano. Later a telephone message was received stating that the couple had been married at Holy Rosary Church by Rev. N. N. De Carto, the pastor. It was further stated that the bride and bridegroom were on their way to Baltimore.
Mr. and Mrs. Satterfield hurriedly set out for Baltimore, and arrived in that city shortly after the happy pair. It has been learned that they planned to visit a brother of the bridegroom. Joseph Catalano, who resides at 427 North Montford street, Baltimore, and thither went the parents of the bride, accompanied by two policeman from the Baltimore force.
Mr. Catalano refused to allow the police to enter his home unless a warrant for his brother’s arrest was produced, and in the meantime a large crowd was attracted by the presence of the two officers. Finally a temporary truce was effected by a telephone conversation between Mrs. Satterfield and her daughter.
No one was at home at the Anacostia address of Mr. and Mrs. Satterfield this morning, so it was impossible to ascertain the truth of conflicting reports as to what the future attitude of the parents of the young bride toward their daughter and newly acquired son-in-law will be.”
On August 27, 1916 the Star reported that an automobile license, number 40903, was issued to Willam E. Satterfield of 2245 14th Street in Southeast. He drove a Chalmers.
True to form and his inexperience behind the wheel, he quickly had an accident. In the he late fall of 1916, the Star reported, “While crossing Nichols Avenue at Good Hope road last night, about 7 o’clock, Michael Stearn, seventy years old, was knocked down by an automobile, owned and operated by W. E. Satterfield, 2245 14th street southeast. He was slightly injured but refused an offer of hospital treatment.”
Less than a year after receiving his license, in mid-August of 1917, the “5 passenger” and in “good running” condition was advertised for sale for $125. The ad only appeared once.
In January it was reported in the Star that, “Harold W. Satterfield, sixteen years old, 2245 14th street Anacostia, was bitten in the yesterday afternoon by a dog owned by a neighbor.”
No more information on the Satterfields in Anacostia could be found. (In the 1940 Census the Satterfields, headed by Harold, then 38, living with his parents and a nephew, lived in D Street SE.)
On the outside is may look like 2314 Shannon Place SE, a stroll down the street from the Anacostia Metro, is just another vacant property on the periphery environs of Old Anacostia. At the left corner, 2314 Shannon Place, of a four row-house development (2314, 2316, 2318 and 2320) ivy has begun its encroachment, a symbol of neglect and abandonment. The outside looks better than the inside.
The front door opens up to a pit. Nothing much resembling interior decorating or the presence of walls are left. There are no interior walls. All that remains are four decaying floor boards between the intact brick shell.
An upturned bathtub endures, most likely too heavy to remove and not worth its weight to anyone.
Looking up, sun beams in through large holes in the roof. Whenever it rains water streams through the home and onto the floor which has nearly turned to sand.
According to Brian Kraft’s Building Permit database the four properties were built in 1915 at an estimated cost of $1,500 each. The owner, architect and builder of the four row houses was William C. McGowan.
According to OTR’s Recorder of Deeds, on June 13, 2014 a deed between “Laura E. Johnson, surviving tenant by the entirety of Thomas J. Johnson, who died on November 11, 1980 by Emma O. Bakare her power of attorney which is to be recorded prior hereto, party of the first part, and Walter A. Arevalo, party of the second part.
Witnesseth, that in consideration of the sum of One Hundred Thirty Eight Thousand and 00/100 Dollars ($138,000), the parties of the first part do hereby grant unto the party of the second part, in fee simple, as sole owner, all the piece or parcel of land, together with the improvements, rights, privileges and appurtenances to the same belonging, situate in the District of Columbia.”
If the property has been vacant for nearly 35 years that would explain its condition. A strong-armed center fielder, with a serious crow-hop, could throw a baseball from the front of this home to the Anacostia Metro station.
A member of the Great Ward Eight Facebook page grew up next door to 2314 Shannon Place SE and recalls Mrs. Laura Johnson. The member shared that house was occupied until at least 1989. Laura Johnson was the wife of Thomas Johnson. I initially thought she may have been the daughter. In many of these cases it is very difficult to interpret property records without the assistance and information of long-time residents and good folks. Thank you for the kind help. – JM & WA-El
The tag of “MaNR” recently swept through Old Anacostia written prominently on 2238 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE and the brick foundation in the rear of “Big Green” at 1220 Maple View Place.