Last month, I talked about buildings in the Dupont area in danger of “demolition by neglect,” which is when an owner, intentionally or unintentionally, lets a building rot away until it has to be torn down. That’s always a major loss to our historic building stock. DC has laws to prevent it, but they’re often not enforced very well.

There’s good news on the vacant Democratic Republic of the Congo chancery, at New Hampshire and S: Congolese officials have “informed [the Department of State] that they have selected a contractor from the several that made proposals for the renovation.” This is a beautiful building that’s in terrible disrepair, and it’d be great to have it back.

  
Left: Chancery of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Photo from the DC Preservation League. Right: 1841 16th Street.
Photo by lightboxdc on Flickr.


The news is less positive for 1841 16th Street, the building rented out to students and young people where an internal wall collapsed in early June. Via the Dupont Circle Conservancy, I’m told that the owners want to tear the building down, but HPO is opposing the request. It’s important that HPO win, both for this building and to set precedent for others in the future. The owners should restore the building as is, or sell it to someone who will.

Update from DCCA: The owner of 1841 16th claimed in a letter to residents that the building will be partly demolished, and new work begun, on Monday. Given HPO’s opposition, it seems unlikely they have all the permits; they may be trying to knock it down before anyone can stop them. Updates to come as I hear them.

Update 2 (Friday 11 am): Via HPO, the owners have been denied a raze permit. In the past some people have razed buildings illegally, but that’d be a drastic action that hopefully is above this landlord.

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Surface Transit. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions here are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.