The 300 block of K Street SE, near the Arthur Capper-Carrollsburg Dwellings, is not a promising site for homeownership. This spring, a developer acting on behalf of the city started informing property owners of its plans to acquire and demolish as many as 20 lots in the area as part of the Capper-Carrollsburg HOPE VI revitalization project (“Surprise Development,” 8/1). Nevertheless, two of the homes on that block have been up for sale this summer.

The owners of the homes at 301 and 303, apparently concerned that they may not receive fair market value from the city, placed them on the market in April and June, respectively, with list prices of $179,000 and $189,000. Real estate agent Barbara Mouton, who’s handling both homes, admits it’s tough to make a sale when you have to tell potential buyers the homes may soon be seized and destroyed.

Mouton says that when home shoppers express interest in the properties, she discloses the eminent-domain matter to them. At that point, she says, “They lose interest very quickly.” She says the news often elicits a chuckle from would-be buyers—not to mention other real estate agents—who check out the house.

“They’ll say, ‘Let me check with my clients, but I don’t think they want to get involved,’” Mouton says. She tells interested parties that if they were to purchase one of the homes, they would have to work things out with the city.

Mouton says she was hoping the contiguous properties might interest a powerful developer willing to duke it out with the city’s housing authority for rights to the land. But so far no one seems turned on by the prospect of heavy litigation.

The houses were temporarily taken off the market this week, as the homeowners and Mouton’s company, Prudential Carruthers, wait for the city to firm up its intentions regarding the properties. Mouton says the city has been unclear as to whether it actually plans on acquiring the properties.

“Each situation is unique,” Mouton says. “I’d probably make more money writing a book about these situations than selling houses.” She says there are no open houses planned for either home. CP