Saturday, January 31, 2015

ABC7 news story on the pursuit of a moratorium on pop-ups (Bloomingdale not referenced)

See this tweet and the news story:

9:49 AM - 31 Jan 2015 

D.C. group petitions for moratorium on 'pop-up' houses

Residents have now launched a petition, calling for a moratorium on transforming rowhouses into multi-story apartments.
Tracy Hart is part of an effort called Stop the Pop DC and launched an online petition asking Mayor Muriel Bowser and the city to put a moratorium on such construction until the zoning commission develops regulations.
As a mayoral candidate last July, Bowser wrote a letter to DCRA, saying "I would encourage you to place a hold on any building permit request for such pop ups until the issue is settled at the zoning commission."
But Friday, Bowser seemed to back off her earlier position, telling ABC7 she wasn’t calling for a moratorium, but “I'm for action at the zoning commission. "
Anti-pop-up advocates think that’s a change
"We're just asking her to honor her own wishes," Hart said.


Citizenalpha said...
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Unknown said...

Where there is demand, developers create supply. Don't be mad at the developers, people are buying the condos, correct? It's called capitalism people. The nearby homeowners are also getting a boost in property value.

Jenifer said...

yeah, but there's development and there's UGLY development.

Citizenalpha said...

V street monster only sold one unit and the rest of the units have been unoccupied since construction in 2013.

Definitely don't think neighboring homes are getting a boost in property value having that thing next to their house. Not to mention the property damage neighbors have sustained during the construction, or the fact that solar panels on homes shadowed by the pop ups are no longer useful.

People aren't against pop-ups as a whole, there are plenty where the pop-ups are set back from the street and are constructed respectfully in line with the facade of the neighborhood. I don't have any problem with those. But there's plenty of developers that are only interested in quick turnaround and throw up the pop-up while damaging neighboring properties.

Todd said...

Yeah, John, you can't just do whatever you want with a rowhouse as it shares a wall with another home (ostensibly a single family home). Those neighboring owners didn't buy into a situation where they should have to listen to the noise from 3/4 condos thru their shared wall....they didn't also buy into living in the shadow of a condo or having their backyard be a panopticon in the gaze of 10+ windows on a huge popup/back. Where is the proof that having a popup next to me increases the cost of my property? It doesn't make any sense-- having more square feet in a community decreases the sq ft price. That's just basic supply/demand economics. Show me an instance where my house, that used to be a single family rowhome, is more valuable when it shares a wall with a 4 unit condo. It's exactly the opposite, my property is LESS desirable under those circumstances that those that don't share a wall with a condo building. Yes, in that instance, I'd be mad as hell at the developer even he never damaged my property. In fact, i would go so far to suggest that the property owners affected by these types of deals should file a class action lawsuit against either the developers or the city for failing to protect their investments. That's capitalism too i'm afraid.

Todd said...

Further, isn't it ironic that all the benefits of this situation go to a developer whose reward is linked to the fact that 1) s/he has the resources to pay cash for a property or pay for a costly renovation 2) s/he has the gumption to impose themselves on the neighbors and lower the quality of their properties. How about this? If a developer wants to turn a rowhouse into a condo they should have to compensate the neighbors for all the losses (cited above) and inconveniences they'll take on by sharing a wall with a condo. Further, something that nobody mentions is the increased risk of having 12 people live in a neighboring building rather than a family of 3 or 4..... increased chance of fire, water damage or damage to building from modifications etc. Increase the occupancy and you increase the risks. We should get compensated for that increased risk.

Nate said...

Do all of the benefits really go to the developer? Home buyers that 1) couldn't afford an entire rowhouse or 2) don't need all the space of the row house are now able to move into a safe and wonderful neighborhood. Sure, if there were no developers competing against individual home buyers someone could probably buy one of the dilapidated homes that come on the market for ~$400k and renovate, then move in. Not many people can afford to carry a mortgage on one place and rent/mortgage in another though while that renovation occurs. That's not even adding in the renovation costs and time spent doing that.

I would wholeheartedly disagree that all of the benefits go to the developer. Condo conversions are able to provide a move-in condition home at a lower pricepoint than an entire rowhouse. I also don't know where you're getting 12 people from. Sure the V st. condo is a number of units, but with the exception of a couple up on Channing, everything I've seen in Bloomingdale is 2 units. So between 4-6 people maybe living in the newly converted building. There's plenty of group houses with that many people in them.

Nate said...

To Citizenalpha:

The V st has been priced way too high for a long time. Not many people are interested in paying penthouse prices for a 5 story walkup (or whatever it is). Most other conversions have sold quickly, some before even open houses. I don't think the V st building is good evidence to show the demand isn't there; its the opposite.

Todd said...

They certainly DO NOT go to the people who purchased these homes for however many hundreds of thousands of dollars (often their entire life savings) and did so under a certain set of assumptions, none of which were the ones now being imposed by a developer (easements, noise levels, risks of damage/fire, and compromised privacy) the decreased property value that is incurred from all these things. At the very least, the developer needs to share to offset these costs for those people impacted... but i would say that rowhouse conversions beyond 3 units should not be permissible and certainly not those that entail easement infringements, or light value changes for the neighbors (hope you weren't thinking about growing vegetables in that backyard). You can't compromise my property to add value to yours. it's that simple.

Todd said...

Most everything that you see in Bloomingdale is 3 units ...a basement unit, a main floor unit and the two upper floors (usually a pop up) for a 3rd unit. You can find houses with many people living in them, but not usually 3 kitchens, 4-5 baths, 3 heating units, 3 electrical systems and all the other things that usually are the source of a major mishap. More units equals more risk and any insurance company will charge you more to ensure three units than for one even if its the same space.

Nate said...

Actually I think that most everything you see in Bloomingdale is 2 units - lower unit with the dugout basement + first floor, and another unit with the top 2 floors. There are some on 1st street (not all pop-ups but condos, and I guess condos are bad or something), some of the recent sales I've seen on the northern part of Bloomingdale also 2 units, each with 2 floors. I'm just basing this on what I've seen come to market in the last year or so. Sure there have been some 3 unit (and yes there are some to be developed as we speak) conversions, but you see that more in Columbia Heights with the zoning that accomodates that higher density.

There are many homes with an English basement so you really have the same number of kitchens in each instance, and marginally more bathrooms. But I get it, condos are bad.

Citizenalpha said...

Nathan: " Condo conversions are able to provide a move-in condition home at a lower pricepoint than an entire rowhouse. "

145 Adams St: Converted pop up. Unit 1 sold for $675,000. Unit 2 sold for $675,000.
158 Bryant St: Converted pop up. Unit 1 sold for $575,000. Unit 2 sold for $659,000.

So yes, the benefit largely goes to the developer, especially when they buy these homes in the 300-400k range then flip it quickly within a year and add the pop-ups. I don't know what "lower pricepoint" you're referring to but a decent rowhouse in liveable condition (without the usual trappings of a flipped house) is in the 600 range.

Implying that people have a problem with condos is a strawman. The problem from the start has been garish pop ups that destroy the character of the neighborhood and poor construction/bad behavior on the part of those developers.

Nate said...

1719 2nd St NW - sold for $889,500
59 R St NW - sold for $905,000

Perhas in the similar range of $/sq ft, but in nominal $'s that's a pretty big difference, especially if a young family may not need that space. I never made the point that the benefit is split between buyer / developer (though I think some people underestimate the carrying cost of the properties due to the cost of hard money loans); I disagreed with Todd's point that all of the benefits go to the developers. The families that are able to move into a great neighborhood for a lower price than a full house in a similar condition, finishes certainly benefit a great deal - both monetarily and personally.

Similarily, some of the comments above seemed to be attacking condos (whether pop up or not); I'm questioning the validity of that attack.

Todd said...

No condos are not all bad. There is a nuance here that people want to paint with black and white (a few really as i don't actually think all pop ups are bad). Build as many condos as you want in Bloomingdale ...i don't care frankly. Just don't attach them to my rowhouse (i'm sure other rowhouse owners thing the same). Rowhouses are special and different because you share infrastructure with another unit that was there prior to the conversion and there is increased risk of damage, noise, etc. . It's not complicated really. I think that people want to simply just to vilify the alternate position and support their own economic interests.

Citizenalpha said...
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Citizenalpha said...

>1719 2nd St NW - sold for $889,500
59 R St NW - sold for $905,000
>Perhas in the similar range of $/sq ft, but in nominal $'s that's a pretty big difference, especially if a young family may not need that space

As I said before, homes on the blocks of the pop-ups in the same neighborhood that are completely and wonderfully livable without all the brand new renovation stuff can be had easily in the low 600s. You can't cherry pick homes that were flipped and newly renovated to make that comparison with the average price on flipped converted rowhomes with a pop-up. It's also misleading to indicate that the only home choices a new family has available is a $900k renovated rowhouse or a $600k condo.

I'm not sure what your motivations are here, but we're not having an honest discussion about it. Pop-ups and condos can all be done well without destroying the roofline and look of the neighborhood. That same mythical family you're referring to looking for a "affordable" condo and doesn't need "all that space" is likely to have little problem with a pop-up set back from the street as well since it will likely make the place more affordable.

Nate said...

Ok, so condos are ok but just NIMBY? Got it.

I'm comparing homes with similar features and finishes. Some people want that off the bat and don't have the time to handle upgrades. They shouldn't be able to get that in the market if that is what they are looking for? Also, there really have not been many $600k liveable homes lately, more like $700k plus. I'm trying to have an honest discussion here, sorry you don't agree with the facts I've pulled. Also, still wondering per my comment on the other post whether if anyone that has bashed these eggregious pop-ups and called them ugly has actually said anything to the people living in them. But I don't expect so. Regardless, you disagree and we aren't getting anywhere. My opinion is that these conversions fit a need in the market.

Citizenalpha said...

>Ok, so condos are ok but just NIMBY? Got it.

Your constant mischaracterization of what people are saying means you aren't interested in having an honest discussion. Good luck.

Bloomingdale Resident said...

Ok, Nathan - here goes. Ugly is not the word that I would use to your face (I don't recall every word I used during construction of your condo and others) but I will tell you (paraphrased from the Comprehensive Plan) that the condo you purchased disrupts the architectural balance of the neighborhood and diminishes an important part of Washington's architectural heritage.

It's not you - it's your 1906 house, and its siblings, that are important in this conversation. I think protecting the architectural fabric of each block, and respecting what many neighbors cherish about Bloomingdale, is more important than providing instant stainless steel gratification to those who could achieve it in some other way.

Welcome to the neighborhood. It's a great place filled with great people in great houses with a lot of history, People were talking about your condo from the day they chopped off the turret- check this blog. Sorry - it's a bell that cannot be un-rung. More pop ups are on the way, so the conversation will move on to the newer ones.