District to Surplus Large Property in Georgetown

Home for the Blind to be Sold

GM touched on this briefly last week, but it deserves a little closer look. The District has decided to rid itself of the large property at 3050 R St. (pictured). This could portend a big change for the neighborhood so GM will keep a close eye on it.

The history of the property and the District’s RFP after the jump:

According to District’s RFP, the property was built around 1897. According to the RFP, it served as a home for the blind from its first days. However, it’s not 100% clear that that’s true since it wasn’t until 1916 that Annie Hurt left $500,000 to establish a home for the blind. Either way, according to the 1920 census, nine “inmates” were resident there. At some point the property was run as the Henry and Annie Hurt Home for the Blind. Subsequently, the home became associated with the John Dickson Home “a free home to indigent men residing or to reside within the District of Columbia.” The Hurt Home and the Dickson Home were eventually merged with several other similar organizations and relocated to Western Ave.

The District acquired the property in 1987 after the Hurt Home closed up. According to contemporaneous reports, the Hurt Home sold its property because it could no longer find enough blind individuals looking to join a group home. It was listed for sale in 1987 for $3.725 million. According to the Post, the District apparently purchased the property and attempted to convert it into a residential treatment facility for emotionally disturbed foster children. By at least 1993, the property was being administered by the Devereux Children’s Center for that purpose.

Unfortunately for the District’s foster children, the city ended Devereux’s contract in 2005. The building appears pretty much vacant these days, although there are some signs that at least a couple people might still live there:

DSC_0120small

The plaster started falling down during last Summer's hurricane.

DSC_0121small

It doesn't look like anyone cleaned up the fallen plaster, nor does it look like this door's been open recently.

DSC_0123small

Despite the outside appearance, the lobby does look like it's still in some use

DSC_0127small

It looks like there may be one or a couple people still living there.

Considering the terrible record the District has in terms of its foster care system, it’s rather shameful that the city ended Devereux’s contract. In 2005, a certain ambitious councilmember from Ward Four expressed concern about the future of the children housed at the Hurt Home if it were to close. Do you think as Mayor he’s followed up on that concern?

The social equity question aside, the District is going to get this property off its hands. So the next question is what could it turn into? This is how the property is described in the RFP:

The building is composed of brick and concrete block with a flat slag roof. The front of
the building has oversized double – hung windows. A flight of stairs lead to the main
entrance, surrounded by a two-story covered porch. A one-story and basement structure
to the rear of the building, and a larger four-story structure, also to the rear, appear to be
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Suite 317, Washington, D.C. 20004  Tel. (202) 727-6365  Fax (202) 727-6703
– 2 –
add-ons to the original building footprint. A small surface parking lot also sits to the rear
of the building. The building is surrounded by rear and side lawns to the south and west.
The interior of the building includes a central stairwell, several side stairwells and an
elevator. The first floor layout includes a main lobby, administrative office space, a
cafeteria space and functioning commercial kitchen. The second and third floors contain
a mix of spaces of various sizes that appear to have been designed for recreational,
classroom and residential uses. The basement is semi-finished with office space, a
laundry room and boiler room. The building appears to be structurally sound, with
functional heating and cooling systems.

The building is composed of brick and concrete block with a flat slag roof. The front of the building has oversized double – hung windows. A flight of stairs lead to the main entrance, surrounded by a two-story covered porch. A one-story and basement structure to the rear of the building, and a larger four-story structure, also to the rear, appear to be add-ons to the original building footprint.

A small surface parking lot also sits to the rear of the building. The building is surrounded by rear and side lawns to the south and west. The interior of the building includes a central stairwell, several side stairwells and an elevator. The first floor layout includes a main lobby, administrative office space, a cafeteria space and functioning commercial kitchen. The second and third floors contain a mix of spaces of various sizes that appear to have been designed for recreational, classroom and residential uses. The basement is semi-finished with office space, a laundry room and boiler room. The building appears to be structurally sound, with functional heating and cooling systems.

The lot is zoned for detached properties with a minimum width of 50 feet and a minimum lot size of 5000 square feet. The current building is non-conforming though. And it will remain that way since the front of the building is considered a contributing property to the historical district and thus cannot be demolished.

The current building has 33,000 square feet. The lot is 43,000 square feet. Right now the building covers 20% of the lot and as a matter of right that may be increased to 40% (or even 60% if a church or a school occupies the property). There is an addition to the back of the building that is not considered historic and can probably be removed.

The most obvious answer for what will go there is condos. The Wormley School, another District property that was surplussed, was turned into seven condos, all going for seven figure prices. The Hurt Home is almost twice the size of the Wormley School (and could be even larger under its FAR guidelines) and could therefore fit at least 10-12 condos. Given the impressive view of Montrose Park afforded by the building, the condos would probably all be high-end seven-figure packages.

Other less likely possibilities include a charter school or a retirement home (since it’s already constructed with small rooms and a large kitchen and cafeteria, some sort of an institutional residence would be an easy conversion).

The candidates for the RFP are instructed on the importance of including the local stakeholders in the vetting process. The ANC has apparently already met with the Mayor’s office on this and will work closely with them as the offers come in.

While it’s a shame that the city cut the program in 2005, by selling the building, it could see a dramatic windfall. Adjusted simply for inflation, that 1987 price is already over $7 million. According to the city’s most recent assessment, it considered the property to be worth almost $9.5 million. Expect the real market value to exceed even that. Plus the city would immediately reap the benefit of adding the property to the tax rolls. However, if there is any justice, that money will go straight to Child and Family Services Agency for the benefit of foster children.

6 Comments

Filed under Real Estate

6 responses to “District to Surplus Large Property in Georgetown

  1. I’ve often wondered what had happened to that building. It’s such an unusually large presence up that way that it would be a great condo if it cannot be a school or the like…or Dumbarton Oaks could buy it and move their researchers over there so we can see more of the actual house.

  2. Pingback: Hurt Home Offers Due Friday «

  3. Pingback: ANC Preview: When It Rains It Pours «

  4. Pingback: Hurt Home Meeting Announced for June 9 «

  5. Pingback: Details on Those Hurt Home Changes «

  6. Pingback: How to Turn $450k into Eight Figures | The Georgetown Metropolitan

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s