Preservationists have won the latest skirmish in a fight to save a 147-year-old house at 2030 I Street N. W.
The District government last week notified the Howard P. Foley Company, an electrical contracting firm that owns the building, that its permit to demolish the structure had been revoked.But the ultimate fate of the Federal-style building, part of a block nicknamed Red Lion pub, is still very much in doubt.
The demolition permit was revoked, according to a spokesman for the business permits and licenses branch, when and investigation revealed some misstatements in the permit application. The application stated that the building had no party walls, but it did in fact share party walls with the houses on both sides of it. The dimensions of the building were also incorrect on the application, according to the spokesman. The demolition permit, issued Aug. 19, specified that the building was to be taken down piece by piece. Instead, the wrecker used a bulldozer when demolition of the building began on Aug. 19, specified that the building was to be taken down piece by piece. Instead, the wrecker used a bulldozer when demolition of the building began on Aug. 20.
Before the wrecking crew had finished their work, a temporary restraining order was issued halting the demolition. The facade remained intact but the rear of the building had been roped to a bulldozer and pulled down, leaving a pile of rubble.
The temporary restraining order was obtained by Don't Tear It Down, a local preservation group. The group contended that during a 180-day delay-in-demolition period and a subsequent 30-day moratorium, there had been adequate discussion between the building's owner and citizens interested in saving the structure. The temporary restraining order was to hold until Aug. 30, when a court hearing on the matter was scheduled. Because the demolition was revoked, however, the hearing was cancelled.
The fight over the building began last November, when the Foley Company applied for a permit to tear it down. According to the company treasurer, John Selinger, the company; which owns five other buildings on the block, planned to use the space for parking on a temporary basis. When the other houses it owns are torn down, the company plans to erect a headquarters building, Selinger said.
Because the building was listed as a landmark, the matter was referred to the Joint Committee on Landmarks of the National Capital, in accordance with the District building code. The committee held a hearing and recommended to the State Historic Preservation Officer, Lorenzo Jacobs, that a 180-day delay, which is intended to give the state historic preservation time to negotiate with the owners and interested citizens to find ways to preserve historic structures.
The 180-day delay ended June 15, but no negotiating sessions were held until June 14 - the 179th day. At the June 14 meeting, the parties worked out a "gentlemen's agreement," delaying demolition another 30 days. One meeting took place within that period, during which preservation advocates presented information about tax benefits the owners would receive if they retained the building. Preservation advocates also presented plans incorporating the existing buildings with a modern office building.
According to people who attended the meeting, a representative of the Foley Company declared that the owners were not interested in rehabilitating the structures. The owners offered to donate the five historic buildings to anyone who would move them. The Foley Company would contribute $5,000 - the approximate cost of demolishing a building - per house toward the moving expenses. The owners also indicated that they would consider selling the properties as a package - for a total price of about $2 million.
Officials of Howard P. Foley Company would not say what the company plans to do next. According to David Sadoff, lawyer representing Don't Tear It Down, the owners could either appeal the revocation of the demolition or apply for a new administrative board or apply for a new demolition permit.
If another demolition permit is granted, said Sadoff, Don't Tear It Down will press its legal motion to stop the demolition - at least until all parties involved have made a sincere effort to save the building.