Way back in 2010, we learned about the Home Again program, the District’s attempt to return vacant and abandoned properties to productive use by acquiring them and selling them in bundles to developers, who were then required to renovate them to certain standards. It worked, some of the time. Other times, developers would cherry pick their batches, fixing the most valuable properties and leaving the rest to languish.
The rotting hulk attached to the Harvest Life Church on Sherman and Girard Streets NW was one of those. In the same bundle, there was 1031 4th Street NW, and Castle Development Corporation—-owned by one Joseph Kisha, who is also responsible for some troubled properties in Columbia Heights—-failed to develop both. In September 2010, the District took the plain brick rowhouse next to I-395 back, and has since been working it through the disposition process again.
In April, an LLC registered to an address that also includes the law offices of Graves, Horton, Askew & Johns, LLC bought the property, taking out a mortgage for $228,750. A partnership of Paramount Development and Blue Sky Housing LLC have since applied to build a seven-condo, seven-story building on the little lot, combined with a small piece of the large empty lot next door (the rest of it is owned by Bible Way Church, which has developed large apartment buildings off New Jersey Avenue NW).
Earle Horton, a principal in Graves, Horton, Askew & Johns as well as Blue Sky Housing, says they’re still in the very early stages of development. The spot is overdue for a second chance.