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Construction Crane Looms Over Georgetown Residents

NBC Universal, Inc.

In the center of Georgetown lies a vacant lot where construction is supposed to occur, but instead, residents have had a crane looming over their heads for the past three years.

The site at 30th and M streets appears to be abandoned, and residents have been complaining about the empty spot for years.

“Once upon a time I thought they were going to build a hotel there or something but I don’t know what's going on,” Georgetown resident Ron said.

However, the developer, Joe Sitt, who’s owned the property since 2016, claims it’s still an active work site. He cited demolition work, steele work, design work and work on a neighboring building, among other things.

News4 has been monitoring the site over the past few months and has not seen any work being done, just as the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) has noticed. DCRA oversees construction projects, and according to DCRA Director Ernest Chrappah, his inspectors determined the site is not active.

The agency is taking punitive actions against the developer by declaring the site vacant and tripling the tax rate the developer is being charged. District officials hope tripling the tax rate will motivate the owner to move along with construction or sell the property.

Chrappah said he will address neighbors’ concerns and get in touch with the property owner to get something done — even if it results in a lien on the property.

The crane was inspected last December, and the crane permit expires on March 1, but the owner could still request a six-month extension. Sitt said he wants to move forward but claims the permitting process is slowing things down.

In the meantime, Sitt insisted the crane is safe and promised he’s working to bring a first class hotel to the site where the Old Latham Hotel and the Michel Richard Citronelle Restaurant once resided.

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