The owner of a Capitol Hill townhouse that has sparked controversy about the commercialization of residential zones near Congress has withdrawn his application for a project that prompted opposition from neighbors.
But that may not be the end of the matter.
Jamie Hogan, who owns a residence on C Street Northeast with his business partner Amy Paul, confirmed he had given up on plans to renovate the home’s garage after neighbors, including St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, expressed opposition at a September hearing of the D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment.
“I’m mostly dropping it because the church has a problem with the design,” said Hogan, CEO of HSP Direct, a Republican fundraising and direct mail agency.
Hogan and Paul bought the home for $1.5 million in 2017, and neighbors alleged they bought it to serve as their Ashburn, Va., business’s Capitol Hill outpost — using the C Street Northeast pad to host fundraisers and other political or policy events. They provided to D.C. zoning officials fundraising invitations at the home, branded as the HSP Direct Townhouse, as well as online job advertisements for employees whose work would include planning functions at the townhouse.
The home, at 224 C Street N.E., is zoned as a residential property, according to public tax and property records. Hogan had applied for special exceptions to expand the property’s garage, but zoning officials questioned whether it was really being used as a residence. Karen Wirt, an advisory neighborhood commissioner for the area, opposed Hogan’s application and said she and the neighbors were considering their next steps to address the broader problem of lobbying and political groups snapping up homes around their neighborhood.
Wirt and other neighbors said the problem of commercial creep into Capitol Hill residential spots was bigger than just the HSP Direct property. Wirt said she and others planned to meet with D.C. Council member Charles Allen, who represents Capitol Hill.
“We need either new legislation to prevent this commercial encroachment into residential neighborhoods or stronger enforcement by the zoning administrator,” she said in an email to CQ Roll Call on Tuesday.
Allen could not be reached for comment but previously told CQ Roll Call that the issue was “bigger than one house and one property. Every residential house that gets turned into a lobbying headquarters or a fundraising house, it’s one less house that a family can live in.”
Neighbors say they’ve also flagged another house on the block, located at 211 C Street NE, which serves as the Capitol Hill office of the Eagle Forum Education and Legal Defense Fund, according to the nonprofit organization’s website. That home is classified as residential for tax purposes, and the owners receive the D.C. homestead tax deduction, according to public Office of Tax and Revenue documents.
The Eagle Forum’s president, Ed Martin, did not respond to emails seeking comment.
Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone.