Photo by ~ragio~.
The city keeps track of vacant and blighted buildings since it charges a much higher property tax on those properties. For instance, an ordinary residential building is charged 85 cents for every $100 of assessed value. If a building is found to be vacant, though, the rate is $5.00 per $100 of assessed value. If the city finds that the house is blighted, the rate jumps to $10. The purpose of these increased rates is to discourage extended vacancies, which have a long list of negative societal impacts.
Typically the discussion of vacant and blighted buildings focuses on transitional neighborhoods like Shaw. But vacant buildings exist in neighborhoods like Georgetown, and their negative effects can impact any neighborhood, rich or poor.
Neibauer noticed that the location of the future Paul Bakery is on the list and is identified as blighted, no less. GM suspects that it will come off the list before the bill is due, since the restaurant is opening soon. But other commercial locations are also on the vacant list. For instance, 1340 and 1344 Wisconsin Ave. are listed (they are the two shops on the southwest corner of O and Wisconsin). But they are actually not subject to the higher rate, since they have an exemption (most like the exemption for properties that are currently being offered for sale or lease). The old Bamboo and Grace building has a similar exemption (although GM’s suspects in all of these cases the buildings have been on the market too long to truly qualify for the exemption–it’s one year for a lease listing and two for a sale listing).
There are only a couple properties in Georgetown listed as blighted. Beyond the future Paul location, they include the burned down Washingtonian gas station and 3324 Dent Place. The second location was basically crushed by a tree last week during the hurricane. It is a blessing that the only house in Georgetown to be destroyed by the hurricane happened to be an empty one. But it is nonetheless a significant loss since the building was really quite old and was one of the very few examples of the wood frame houses that used to populate Georgetown.
GM had been previously informed that the Friendly Estate on 31st and Avon was also identified by the city as blighted, but it only appears as vacant in DCRA’s chart.
If there is a vacant or blighted building you would like to report, go here.