HPA No. 1988-370 (In re. Peerless Properties and Watkins Residence)
- HPA Number: 1988-370
- Building Name: Peerless Properties and Watkins Residence
- Case Name: In the Matter of 1925 4th Street, N.W.
- Location of Property: 1925 4th Street, N.W.
- Date of Decision: 10/26/1988
- Type of Permit Sought: Construction (windows replacement, modifications to the front entry including to the door and sidelight panel, and the addition of a small porch with balustered rail)
- Disposition: Denied
- Date of Case Summary: 12/3/2014
- Subject Area(s): Mayor’s Agent – Procedural; Consistent with the Purposes of the Act; Unreasonable Economic Hardship; Windows.
Summary of Decision:
Peerless Properties and Mark E. Watkins (the “Applicants”) sought a permit to alter the façade of the two-story brick row house located at the corner of 4th and U Streets, N.W. Specifically, the Applicants sought a permit to replace all windows with non-wood units, and to modify the front entry by installing a wood panel door, a sidelight panel, and a small porch with a recycled balustered rail above the entry.
The application was submitted to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, which referred it to the Historic Preservation Review Board (the “HPRB”). During the pendency of the Applicants’ application for a construction permit, the Applicants renovated the row house without obtaining the necessary permit. The HPRB subsequently accepted the HPRB Staff report and denied the application. The Applicants requested a hearing before the Mayor’s Agent, claiming that denial of their construction permit would impose an unreasonable economic hardship to the owner. During a continuance granted to allow the Applicants to file the necessary documentation in order to make a claim of unnecessary economic hardship, the Applicants amended their claim to include that the permit should be granted because the work is consistent with the purposes of the Historic Landmark and Historic District Protection Act (the “Act”).
Furthermore, before exhausting all appeal rights before the Mayor’s Agent, the Applicants sold the subject property for use as a single family dwelling at a “substantial economic benefit”; the Applicants realized a profit of $151,500. Neither the Applicants nor their counsel appeared for the hearing. The LeDroit Park Preservation Society was the only person to testify at the hearing.
The Mayor’s Agent denied the application, finding that Applicants failed to present any evidence of any unreasonable economic hardship, noting that the sizable profit from the sale belied the existence of unreasonable economic hardship. The Mayor’s Agent also rejected Applicants’ claim that the Application was consistent with the purposes of the Act.
Mayor’s Agent – Procedural:
The Mayor’s Agent stated that in order to make a claim that failure to issue a permit would result in unreasonable economic hardship, the burden of proof is on the Applicant.
Consistent with the Purposes of the Act:
The Applicants requested that their claim be amended to include that the permit application should be granted because the work is consistent with the purposes of the Historic Landmark and Historic District Protection Act of 1978. The Mayor’s Agent denied such request.
Unreasonable Economic Hardship:
The Mayor’s Agent stated that to successfully make an unreasonable economic hardship claim, the Applicant must establish that a permit denial would amount to a taking of the owner’s property without just compensation, or in the case of a low income owner as determined by the Mayor, failure to issue a permit would place an onerous and excessive financial burden upon such owner, as stipulated by applicable District regulations. The Mayor’s Agent found that denial of the application was not an unreasonable economic hardship, especially since the only evidence presented showed that the Applicants had profited substantially from the sale of their property.
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