HPA No. 1986-076 (In re. Singer Rental Property)
- HPA Number: 1986-076
- Case Name: 1222 “W” Street, S.E.
- Location of Property: 1222 “W” Street, S.E.
- Date of Decision: Not provided in the Order; hearing date was April 22, 1986
- Type of Case/Type of Permit Sought: Application for a permit for demolition of an existing structure
- Disposition: Demolition permit denied
Summary of Decision:
Stanley Singer (“Applicant”) sought a permit to demolish an existing residential rental property located in the Anacostia Historic District. The Applicant asserted that the demolition permit should be granted pursuant to Section 5(e) of the Act, i.e., failure to issue the permit would result in unreasonable economic hardship. The Mayor’s Agent found that the evidence and testimony offered by the Applicant (primarily that the property was vacant, had lost money, and was being used by vandals, drug dealers and prostitutes) did not meet the burden of proof required to demonstrate unreasonable economic hardship because it did not establish that it was impossible to rehabilitate the property or to recover a reasonable return on his investment in the property. Additionally, the Mayor’s Agent noted that the Applicant failed to demonstrate that alternative uses for the property had been considered. Based on these findings of fact, the Mayor’s Agent denied the Applicant’s application for a demolition permit.
Mayor’s Agent – Procedural:
The Mayor’s Agent stated that the Applicant carries the burden of proving unreasonable economic hardship, stating that the Act defines unreasonable economic hardship as “a taking of the owner’s property without just compensation,” which, according to the Mayor’s Agent, may be established by demonstrating that “denial of the demolition permit will preclude it from reasonable use of its property or return on its investment.” The Mayor’s Agent also stated that the Applicant carries the burden of proof to establish that demolition is consistent with the purposes of the Act, and that such proof may be established by demonstrating that the demolition “promotes the historic character of the District.”
Unreasonable Economic Hardship:
Section 5(e) of D.C. Law 2-144 provides that no demolition permit may be issued unless the Mayor or his designated agent finds that “failure to issue a permit will result in unreasonable economic hardship to the owner,” which is defined in the statute as “a taking of the owner’s property without just compensation.” The Mayor’s Agent stated that unreasonable economic hardship may be established by demonstrating that “denial of the demolition permit will preclude [the owner] from reasonable use of its property or return on its investment.” The Mayor’s Agent found that there were no attempts to explore options other than demolition, such as selling or leasing the property, and that the current assessed value of the property was more than double what Applicant had paid for the property, which the Mayor’s Agent viewed as a basis to deny the permit.
Consistent with the Purposes of the Act:
The Applicant made no arguments regarding whether the demolition was consistent with the purposes of the Act. However, the Mayor’s Agent concluded as a matter of law that no demolition permit shall issue unless it is “necessary in the public interest” (i.e., consistent with the purposes of the Act or a project of special merit). By stating both the unreasonable economic hardship and consistent with the purposes of the Act tests, the Mayor’s Agent seemed to suggest that applicants must prove that demolition is consistent with the purposes of the Act, even if an applicant also proves that failure to issue the permit would result in unreasonable economic hardship.
Files in this item
- Full text of order.pdf
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Government of the District of Columbia. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. Office of Adjudication; Government of the District of Columbia. Office of Planning. Historic Preservation Office (2001)