Adrian M. Fenty is the closest D.C. has ever come to an imperial mayor. He refuses to answer questions about various business and personal trips. He hogs baseball tickets. He snaps his fingers and people get fired.
On April 23, the mayor appeared to be at it again. On a walk-through of Eckington, Fenty fixated on a “once beautiful, but very dangerous Victorian house,” as described in an e-mail from Alice Thompson, the mayor’s outreach coordinator for Ward 5.
The home at 1811 3rd St. NE was a dilapidated gray house with a spacious front porch, a sizable lawn, and a serious problem with squatters. According to the e-mail, it was “by far the worst property he had seen.”
And so the mayor acted. “He told [Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs] to have it razed immediately,” she wrote in the note, sent to a Ward 5 Listserv and Sarah Latterner, director of community relations and services in the mayor’s office.
Roughly two weeks later, on May 6, that’s exactly what happened. The building was scheduled for demolition. Even in the ever-more-efficient District of Columbia, that’s epic turnaround.
So is this just another Fenty power move?
Nah. What Thompson failed to mention in her adulating note was that the Board of Condemnation and Insanitary Buildings had already ordered the building condemned and razed a long time ago. Not earlier that month. Not earlier this year. Not even the year before. In late 2006.
“It was brought to the board in August 2005,” says Mike Rupert, spokesperson for the DCRA. It was condemned by the following October. The city then took a variety of ultimately unsuccessful steps to force the owners to improve their property. Roughly a year later, on Nov. 15, 2006, 1811 3rd St. was ordered demolished.
“It should have been razed a long time ago, but for one reason or another, it wasn’t,” says Rupert.
Not surprisingly, there are violations going back to at least 2005—as far back as Rupert could see on his computer—for trash and debris, for lack of maintenance, and for the building being “open and accessible.”
A lien is on the property, which was purchased in 2004 by “NEXUS 1811 LLC,” which is registered by Joy Fulgham and Greshaun Fulgham, according to Rupert. Now, if the two want to sell the land, they’ll have to pay for the cost of demolition, Rupert confirmed, even though “essentially, [the city] could have gone back out there and razed it any time in the past two years.”
This piece has been edited since its original publishing. It will appear in this week’s newspaper.