[from Ken Rubotzky]
I felt the time had come to share my experience.
In 2002, I bought a building on Upshur Street, with the intention of opening a business. In 2003, DC's Office of Tax and Revenue's (OTR) reclassified this building from vacant to commercial. But OTR has retroactively reinstated the vacancy status without explanation - and I have had no success in pulling my building from this list after many phone calls, emails, and meetings with city council staffs. (A vacant building is subject to liens, fines, higher taxes and other actions.)
When I first moved into the property, there were drug dealers on the stoop, graffiti on the walls, and 6 feet of garbage covering steps to the basement. All gone now primarily because of my ownership. I paid Washington Gas to provide gas service to the building which took the better part of a year. I hired neighbors to help me move bakery equipment into the building. I work closely with ANC commissioners to end the dumping and drug-dealing that continues in the alleyway behind my building. But OTR cares not, neglecting to return calls or to visit the property.
Over the last two years, I have invested thousands of dollars in equipment, utility payments, and property taxes. But OTR says none of that matters -- that my building is "vacant", and I must pay fines.
I have paid for a certificate of occupancy and am waiting for final inspections. My understanding is that the revitalization of Petworth is one of DC's major initiatives and goals. Mayor Williams wants new businesses to open in depressed areas. But my experience with this initiative is just the opposite with no promise of relief.
225 Upshur Street NW