Development Opportunities for District’s Vacant Properties

In Other by Richard Bianco

The District, through it’s tax, vacant, distressed and blighted property laws, owns a number of properties around the city. Over the years, different administrations have handled, and mis-handled these city-owned assets in a variety of ways. There have been sporadic sales, in a number of different forms, supposedly to meet various policy goals.

On December 15, Mayor Bowser announced the most recent iteration of a program to dispose of the city-owned vacant and distressed property. Her “Vacant to Vibrant” plan is multifacited, but, deals with vacant residential properties and empty lots in residential areas, by auctioning them off.

Beginning on January 18, 2017 the District will conduct an online auction of thirty-five (35) residential properties and lots, using Alex Coopers Auctioneers website. The initial deposit to bid at the auction is $5,000, the opening bid on each of the properties is $20,000, and bidding will remain open for five days. There are photos and documents about each of the properties on the website, however, you do have to register for a free account on Alex Coopers website to view the documents.

To further Mayor Bowser’s affordable housing agenda, the purchaser of each property is required to sign certain construction and affordability covenants. Among the required agreements are covenants requiring building and repairs needed to bring the contemplated 50+ units online and that the housing remain “affordable” for some minimum period. The full text of the covenants are viewable on Cooper’s website with the other available property documents.

If you have questions about the auction process, procedure, your rights and responsibilities as a high bidder, or legal issues about your tentative plans for the property if you are able to acquire one, contact me or schedule a call at a time that is convenient for you.