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Just waiting on permits? (Lydia DePillis)

It’s always puzzling to see properties sit vacant in fast-developing neighborhoods. Sometimes there are bureaucratic reasons for the delay, and sometimes owners are just absent. In the case of 905 R Street NW—one of the most painful eyesores in Shaw—the District transferred the house as part of a group of properties to the New Columbia Community Land Trust back in 2002, with an agreement that the non-profit would rehab the building as affordable units by that year. It never happened, and the property almost went to tax sale in the intervening years. It’s now on the vacant property list, and is some $20,000 behind in taxes. But a representative of the Trust says it’s just taken forever to get building permits from DCRA, and they’ll start the renovation as soon as they come through.

“We didn’t just pick this property and say ‘we’re going to sit on our hands,'” she said on the phone.