Welcome to 414 Shepherd St

This is the story of what happens when development goes wrong and the District of Columbia is unable to respond. This is all happening right now at 414Shepherd Street, NW, Washington DC. Compass Solutions, managed by Anthony Onyewuchi, is the owner of this property.

View the full Property Information Verification System Report (PIVS).

The current significant issues are:

Previous issues:

  • Large hole / hazard in the front yard (abated in December 2016)
  • Open property in front and backyard used to dump trash (DCRA added a front and rear fence on May 5, 2016, removed December 2016)
  • Front porch footings eroded and risk collapse (abated in December 2016)

414 causes basement flooding in adjoining property

Neighbors to 414 Shepherd have reported basement flooding coming from the adjoining wall. They have hired a waterproofing company to look into the flooring and they have determined it is the underpinning from 414 Shepherd causing the damage.

DCRA responded:

DCRA has been to this property on several occasions, meeting with the [neighbors] on at least two occasions within the last week or so.  We were at  the site again today.  Unfortunately we have yet to determine the precise cause of the water intrusion, although it has been witnessed.  We are having the builder perform some additional protective measures in the hopes that the issue is resolved sooner rather than later.  Specifically, we are having the builder install tarps over the incomplete portion of a new rear addition roof as well as having them dewater some ponding observed in the front of the property.  The ponding is likely too far away from the point of water intrusion to be a contributing factor, but it is an issue nonetheless.  The new, incomplete roof is a more probable source of the water intrusion, but that is a bit speculative at this point.

We have a special assistant assigned to the case, Steven Fall, in order to stay on top of the new protective measure installation and to enhance communication with the [neighbors].

Thanks to everyone for your assistance in this matter.

Garret Whitescarver
Deputy Chief Building Official, Acting
Inspections and Compliance Administration
Dept. of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
Government of the District of Columbia

Property now deemed blighted

DC has now tagged 414 Shepherd as a blighted property, elevating it from the previous vacant label. It takes a bit of neglect to become a blighted property. In return the Office of Tax and Revenue is now charging the owner a 10% property tax rate, instead of the 5% they were charged as a vacant property. This is intended to force the owner to complete the project and return the house to habitable conditions or sell the property if they are unable to finish the project.

Compass Solutions LLC’s history of tax liens

Compass Solutions LLC, the owner of this property, has a bit of a history of tax liens being placed on several properties they own (or previously owned) in the District. All information was found on the DC Recorder of Deeds site.

These are the liens placed on 414 Shepherd:

May 3, 2017
Tax lien for correction of wrongful conditions against 414 Shepherd St $480.20

March 5, 2017
Tax lien for correction of wrongful conditions against 414 Shepherd St $480.20 (paid)

January 6, 2017
Tax lien for correction of wrongful conditions against 414 Shepherd St, $5,760.60 (unclear if paid)

November 21, 2016
Tax lien for correction of wrongful conditions against 414 Shepherd St, $680.16 (unclear if paid)

November 18, 2016
Tax lien for correction of wrongful conditions against 414 Shepherd St, $408.20 (unclear if paid)

May 4, 2016
Tax lien for correction of wrongful conditions against 414 Shepherd St, $480.20 (unclear if paid)

Total: $8,217.56 [updated June 8, 2017]

Compass Solutions LLC also owns 2256 High St, SE and these are the current liens placed on that property:

May 26, 2017
DC Water and Sewer Authority at 2256 High St, SE, $1,606.23 (unclear if paid)

May 3, 2017
Tax lien for correction of wrongful conditions against 2256 High Street, SE, $680.16 (unclear if paid)

February 13, 2017
DC Water and Sewer Authority at 2256 High St, SE, $4,596.66  (unclear if paid)

February 9, 2017
Litter Control Administration Act Lient at 2256 High St, SE, $2,000.00 (unclear if paid)

January 23, 2017
Tax lien for correction of wrongful conditions against 2256 High Street, SE, $8,350.00 (unclear if paid)

Total: $17,233.05 [updated June 8, 2017]

Rear wall collapses

After the ground was excavated in the rear for the extension and left for several weeks, a portion of the rear wall collapsed. DC Fire was called to determine the safety of the structure and notified DCRA. DCRA came out and placed a ‘Danger’ sign on the front door. After speaking with DCRA it was determined that the rear wall is not load bearing and will not be required to be secured or repaired.

March Meeting – Additional next steps agreement

On March 2, 2017 Mr. Onyewuchi and Mr. Gabriel Sobande of Compass LLC met with the neighbors and ANC Commissioner as a follow up to their January 2017 due to agreements from the January meeting not being fulfilled.

Blueprints say the property will be 61’ 7” in length. Neighbors believe this is further back than the adjoining neighbor’s rear wall. Mr. Onyewuchi previously promised it wouldn’t be further so this needs to be checked.

One of the workers on the property was observed opening the DC Water access by the street and hitting the transmitter. DC Water will be contacted.

Rear foundation of the adjoining neighbor’s house has been exposed due to rear excavation at 414 Shepherd. Contractors promised that it would be fixed quickly and it has now been several weeks. At the meeting Mr. Gabriel Sobande called Pablo and they agree that it would be fixed quickly.

Workers told the adjoining neighbor that the underpinning on the house was done incorrectly and was being fixed. DCRA is expected to inspect the final underpinning the week of March 6-10. DCRA will evaluate if underpinning was done correctly.

Mr. Onyewuchi asked neighbors to call him if they don’t get answers they want from his workers.

Mr. Onyewuchi stated that it is his responsibility to ensure that any damage to neighboring houses caused by his work on the house must be repaired at his cost.

Mr. Onyewuchi stated that it is normal for projects to have stop work orders, that the duration of the house being vacant is normal, and that he is not harming neighbors nor the neighborhood. Mr. Onyewuchi is unhappy with the tone of Commissioner Goodman’s email to him requesting answers about his numerous violations.

Mr. Onyewuchi stated the house is expected to be finished by the end of April.

700 Days

Today marks the 700th day since DCRA first declared this property vacant. It is still vacant, has had numerous stop work orders placed on the property, and continues to pose health risks to the neighbors. Compass Solutions LLC continues to do minimal, if any legal work at the property.

Nothing is being done by DCRA or those with oversight of DCRA, including the Mayor or DC Council.

January 30, 2017 – Next steps agreement

Agreement between 416 Shepherd, 412 Shepherd, and Anthony Onyewuchi of Compass Solutions

1) Mr. Onyewuchi will find out if Carlos will be on-site as the neighbors have had a good experience with him before

2) All agreed Gabriel will be our main point of contact but Mr. Onyewuchi will remind him to treat us respectfully and to be responsive.

3) Mr. Onyewuchi will have Pablo or Gabriel arrange a meeting as soon as possible where neighbors can review the following

– blueprints

– permits

paperwork on crew to confirm they are employees

– proof that any independent contractors working on the project are covered by insurance

4) Mr. Onyewuchi has updated neighbors on the scope of the project including:

– Compass Solutions will not sell the property as condos

– there will be two units with separate entrances but it will be sold to 1 buyer (the buyer can always go through process to convert and re-sell as condos)

– back of house will be bumped out to same length as 412 and a deck will be added

– there will be no “bump-up”

– front yard will be excavated to add front entrance to lower unit

– porch will remain

– work to start this coming week and be completed by early April

5) Neighbors raised the likelihood of water intrusion given experience of several properties on the street. Neighbors suggested Mr. Onyewuchi design the backyard to slope away from the property, to ensure original yard drains remain connected and to install a french drain in the basement.

6) Mr. Onyewuchi kindly agreed to the following requests:

– allow neighbors to walk through when the framing is done but before walls are closed up in order to determine whether there has been any damage to our shared walls.

– repair any cracks in both neighboring properties walls

– repair the seam between the front porch stairs between 414 and 416

– remove dirt along backyard fence and re-install erosion barriers

– replace our front yard grass which has been invaded by weeds from his property

– regular clearing of weeds along the fence lines (front and back)

– consult with neighbors on aesthetics of any fencing in the front yard

– ensure snow is removed from sidewalks promptly to avoid any safety hazards

7) If problems arise we agreed to contact Mr. Onyewuchi by email before contacting DCRA. If we do not hear from Mr. Onyewuchi within 1-2 days we will follow up by phone. If we don’t hear back from Mr. Onyewuchi at that point Mr. Onyewuchi understood we would reach out to DCRA.