Update: The seller’s real estate agent contacted the tenants on Tuesday afternoon after this article was published and informed them that the house’s owners had decided not to sell. A different real estate agent not related to this transaction told Petworth News that it’s his understanding that there has been interest by the owners to sell the house for a few years. That means it’s likely the house will be back on the market again — maybe when the tenants leases end?
The large single-family house on the corner of 8th and Upshur has reportedly been sold and is set to be torn down, pending the outcome of discussions with the existing tenants.
According to the developer, Lock7, the house at 4127 8th Street NW will be razed, and three condo buildings will go up in its place, offering a total of six condo units. The developer said they plan to provide off-street parking, assuming they get approval to widen the existing driveway with a curb-cut extension along Upshur.
The existing 6,500 square foot house features 6 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms, five fireplaces, two living rooms and a finished attic, among other rooms. It offers large front and side yards, and even has a private, gated driveway. The home was originally built in 1915 and remodeled in 2005, prior to its last sale in January 2006 for $770,000 to the existing owners.
There is the potential the sale of the house may not go through, according to Lock7.
The developer claims that the existing tenants have TOPA rights because the home is split into two separate units, with two people living in the basement unit, and six tenants in the top of the house (one person lives in the finished attic).
“We have preliminary site plans for three townhouses and created the LLC, but we are still in the study period of our contract,” said a development manager with Lock7. “The TOPA process has become a challenge and there is potential that the deal doesn't go to closing.”
According to the DC Council’s July 2018 legislation, “TOPA Single-Family Home Exemption Amendment Act of 2018,” the current tenants may not have rights to purchase the home, as the law removes single family homes from TOPA rules. (WaPo has a good article from May 2018: “What renters and landlords need to know about the new D.C. TOPA law.”)
As for now, there was a raze permit filed in November 2018, and the owners are in discussions with the tenants.
There’s no doubt this house will sell. The question is how fair the tenants will be treated, and therefore, how large the profit the current homeowners take away from their initial $770,000 investment, and how much profit the developer will realize after selling six condos located on the same block as Petworth Rec Center and the Upshur Street retail and restaurant corridor. (For what it’s worth, Zillow estimates the house’s current value at $1,161,684.) It’s not unheard of for two and three bedroom condos to sell for $800,000 and higher.
Some of the neighbors adjacent to the property are not happy at the idea of the new condos coming in to that space, stating concerns with parking. Adding a curb cut on Upshur might remove a street parking spot in front of a neighbor’s house, on a street already crowded with cars (that section of Upshur experiences overflow parking from the 800 block).
Other neighbors are fine with the new condo building going in, citing the need for more density in DC. “What are they going to do with that property anyway?” one neighbor told Petworth News. “If they sell it and make it condos, at least there’s more opportunity for people to buy something in the neighborhood.”
We’ll see what happens, but I expect the sale will ultimately go to settlement and the house will be razed, making way for more condos. The reality is that the location is too prime — and the amount of money to be made is so high — for it not to sell. Here’s hoping the tenants are treated well as they begin the process of finding new places to live.