Friday, July 20, 2012

Updated Map of Vacant and Blighted Buildings in Shaw

An earlier post on this site provided an interactive map of buildings in Shaw that had been designated as vacant or blighted by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) as of August 2011.  This post provides an updated map, using DCRA data as of March 2012.  The chart below shows the properties that have been added to or removed from the list between August 2011 and March 2012.  The map is after the jump.

Buildings Removed from the
Vacant/Blighted List

(removed between
August 2011 and March 2012)
Buildings Added to the
Vacant/Blighted List

(added between
August 2011 and March 2012)
1223 4th Street, NW
1112 6th Street, NW
1132 6th Street, NW
1613 6th Street, NW
1513 8th Street, NW
1801 8th Street, NW
1110 9th Street, NW
1320 9th Street, NW
1544 9th Street, NW
624 L Street, NW
626 L Street, NW
632 L Street, NW
919 L Street, NW
929 L Street, NW
508 M Street, NW
422 N Street, NW
1244 New Jersey Avenue, NW
1629 New Jersey Avenue, NW
443 New York Avenue, NW
635 New York Avenue, NW
910 O Street, NW
607 P Street, NW
421 Q Street, NW
503 Q Street, NW
505 Q Street, NW
505 S Street, NW
1808 6th Street, NW
1839 6th Street, NW
1900 8th Street, NW
1238 9th Street, NW
501 Florida Avenue, NW
531 Florida Avenue, NW
801 Florida Avenue, NW
418 M Street, NW
473 M Street, NW
1740 New Jersey Avenue, NW
306 P Street, NW
930 P Street, NW
712 Q Street, NW
313 R Street, NW
512 Rhode Island Avenue, NW
406 Richardson Place, NW
447 Ridge Street, NW
941 S Street, NW

Under District law, vacant buildings are taxed at a rate that is about 6 times higher than the rate for occupied residential buildings, and blighted buildings are taxed at a rate that is over 11 times higher than the rate for occupied residential buildings. Therefore, designation of a building as vacant or blighted creates a significant incentive for the owner to redevelop, rehabilitate, or sell the property.

The map, along with a description of the DCRA standards for designating vacant and blighted buildings, and the exemptions from the vacant and blighted building law, are after the jump.

Map of Blighted, Vacant, and Exempt Properties in the Shaw Area - March 2012 Data
Click on a marker in the map below to view the property status (vacant, blighted, or exempt), the property address, the square and lot, and any relevant notes.

Blighted building
(DCRA March 2012 list)      
Vacant building
(DCRA March 2012 list)
Exempt building
(DCRA March 2012 list)       
  Boundary of area covered

p.s.  If you know of a blighted or vacant building that is missing from the map, please add a comment to the post (and please also consider contacting DCRA at to report the property).

Please note the following:
  • The area covered by the map is between 10th Street, NW, and 3rd Street, NW (from west to east) and roughly between New York Avenue, NW, and Florida Avenue, NW (from south to north).
  • The information shown for each building includes the address, square and lot, and status (blighted, vacant, exempt).  The DCRA data does not include ownership information nor does it include the reason for a property's exemption.
  • Vacant lots are not covered by the law, so they are not included on the map.
  • The map includes vacant and blighted buildings on both sides of the boundary roads.

The questions and answers below are based largely on information from the DCRA website.  The words and sentences in quotation marks are direct quotes from District law or the DCRA website.

What is a Vacant Building?
Generally, a vacant building is a building that is not “occupied continuously”. [D.C. Code § 42-3131.05(5)]

“In determining whether a building is vacant, DCRA must consider whether the building has:
  • low or no utilities usage;
  • an accumulation of mail;
  • a lack of furniture or window coverings;
  • open accessibility;
  • deferred maintenance, including loose or falling gutters, severe paint chipping, or overgrown grass;
  • been the subject of neighbor complaints about the property; and
  • been boarded up.”
Note: To be designated as a vacant building, the entire building must be vacant. In addition, vacant lots are not subject to registration.

What is a Blighted Building?
A blighted building is a vacant building that has been determined by DCRA to be “unsafe, insanitary, or which is otherwise determined to threaten the health, safety, or general welfare of the community.”

“In determining whether a vacant building is blighted, DCRA inspectors may consider:
  • Whether the building is the subject of a condemnation proceeding before the Board for the Condemnation of Insanitary Buildings;
  • Whether the building is boarded up; and
  • Whether the building violates several of the building maintenance standards, such as:
    • Doors, windows and other openings are secured against unauthorized entry;
    • The exterior walls are free of holes, graffiti, and loose or rotting materials, and any exposed metal or wood surfaces are protected against decay or rust; and
    • Any balconies, metal awnings, stairways, fire escapes, exhaust ducts, and chimneys are anchored, structurally safe, in good condition, and protected against decay or rust.”
Note: According to DCRA, vacant lots cannot be designated as vacant or blighted.

What Vacant and Blighted Buildings are Exemption from the Law?
The exemptions from the vacant/blighted property law are the following:

Active construction: “[A]ny building that is “under active construction or undergoing active rehabilitation, renovation, or repair” with a valid building permit that was issued or renewed within a year of the required registration date may claim an exemption … DCRA will grant a building permit exemption only if the property owner has obtained the permits required to “make the building fit for occupancy.” … Additionally, to grant the exemption, DCRA will require that construction be conducted on a regular, ongoing basis.”

Actively being offered for rent or sale: “[A]n exemption may be granted if a vacant building’s owner or agent has been “actively seeking in good faith” to rent or sell the building.”

Undue economic hardship: “[A]n exemption may be granted in extraordinary circumstances for substantial undue economic hardship. Such an exemption is issued only on a case-by-case basis….”

Probate: “[A] vacant building may qualify for an exemption if it is the subject of a probate proceeding or its title is in litigation.”

Development approval pending: “[An] exemption may be granted if the vacant building is the subject of a pending application for development approval before the Board of Zoning Adjustment, the Zoning Commission, the Commission on Fine Arts, the Historic Preservation Review Board, the Mayor’s Agent for Historic Preservation, or the National Capital Planning Commission.”

Note: For all of the exemptions, there is a generally a time limit on how long the exemption can last.

The following exemptions exist for government-owned property:

Federal government buildings: “[A] vacant building has a permanent exemption if it is owned by the federal government, a foreign government, or their instrumentalities. These vacant buildings neither need to be registered with DCRA, nor have to pay the registration fee.”

District government buildings: “[V]acant buildings owned by the District government or its instrumentalities must be registered, but are exempt from paying the registration fee. No federal, foreign, or District government-owned vacant building is subject to the higher property tax rates.”

What are the Vacant and Blighted Building Tax Rates?
• Vacant buildings are taxed at a rate of $5 per every $100 of assessed value.
• Blighted buildings are taxed at a rate of $10 per every $100 of assessed value.

Note: The tax rate for non-vacant/blighted residential property is $0.85 per every $100 of assessed value.


  1. Why is 1222 4th St listed as vacant? There's a brand new, occupied condo there! Even in the satellite picture, it's clearly a construction site.

  2. Also, my house is listed as blighted ... it most certainly isn't ... how do i get that fixed?

  3. To get removed from the list, I'd contact DCRA's vacant buildings office at 202-442-4332 or (I can add a note to the map if you send me your street address. My email is

  4. Thanks ... I actually contact Tommy Wells office and they are taking care of it :)

  5. Does it have to be the whole house, or just part of a house? We have a couple on our street (in east Shaw) where the fronts look OK, but if you look at the backs they're just about falling down! Thanks.

  6. If the building is unoccupied, it should be on the list, no matter what its condition is. (It would be listed as vacant.) With respect to whether it would be considered blighted, both the front and the back should count. The standards include whether whether doors, windows, and other opening are weather-tight and secured against entry; whether the exterior walls are free of holes, graffiti, and rotting material; and whether all exposed metal and wood surfaces are protected from decay by paint, or another weather-coating material.

    But the blighted category, as I understand it, only applies to vacant buildings.

    If the building is occupied, there may be building code provisions that should be enforced. You may want to touch base with the DC Board for Condemnation of Insanitary Buildings ( is listed as the chair). They should be able to let you know what can be done if the building is in such bad shape.

  7. Hello, I was very encouraged to find this site. The reason being that this is such an informative post. I wanted to thank you for this informative read of the subject.
    new york building inspection
    building inspection nyc