Condo high-rise 555 Mass Ave advertises its Mount Vernon Square location as “the heart of everything that’s fun and fascinating in downtown DC.” It’s also right across the street from the neighborhood’s sin magnet: Fun Fair Video, a porn shop, which neighbors say attracts prostitution and drug-dealing.
So far, a small group of condo owners has been trying to clean up the block by providing video footage and a steady stream of tips to cops. What better eavesdropping spot than one of those brand-new condos? Residents and police asked Chevy Chase–based developer The JBG Companies if they could use an empty unit as a surveillance perch. The answer: Umm, no. “JBG really did deliberate on this,” says Tom Willis, who works for the company that manages 555 Mass Ave. “They believe they’re going to be able to completely sell out those units in the very near term. A successful surveillance, according to [the police department], would require 30 days or more. So, this was not an opportune time to take any units off the market.”