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DCRA Halts Work on Building Repairs

ANC member, neighbors question safety of work on collapsed Wisconsin Avenue building.

A Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs inspector on Thursday halted repairs at the site of a  amid questions from neighbors and an Advisory Neighborhood Commission member whether the work was safe and being done properly.

The property, at 1424 Wisconsin Ave. NW, is a potential site for a Z-Burger restaurant. It collapsed just as neighbors were sitting down to holiday dinners, and the incident closed Wisconsin Avenue for several hours. . were affected as well.

The official cause of the collapse has still not been made public, though the cause is believed to be connected to the work allowed under an August 2011 DCRA permit.

Patch has called several numbers associated with the property to learn about the source of the collapse, but has not received any response.

The stop work order, posted on the site Thursday, says the work violates the city's construction code and is being performed "in an unsafe and dangerous manner."

At Tuesday's ANC meeting, Commissioner Ed Solomon raised concerns about the work on the property, saying it worried neighboring businesses.

"It seemed to me that it's like the fox guarding the chicken coop," said Solomon about the contractors being allowed to clean up the debris from site.

DCRA could not be reached to comment on the stop work order. However, the day before it was issued, DCRA spokesperson Helder Gil told Patch that an inspector has visited the site a half dozen times since the incident and determined that the front facade structure was sound and did not pose any danger to passersby, which was one of the concerns Solomon raised.

"The assumption is that the work is being done in a safe and competent manner," Gil said. "[DCRA] can't have an inspector sitting and monitoring construction sites to ensure all of that."

Gil said the contractors do not need a permit or agency oversight to remove debris. Any work beyond that, however, would require a permit.

Peter Colasante, the director of at 1442 Wisconsin Ave., said within two days of the initial incident construction teams were bringing in lumber.

"Removal doesn't constitute putting up beams," he said.

Both Colasante and Hassan Beheshti, who owns at 1413 Wisconsin Ave., said the work site is active at night with trucks coming and going long after dark.

Gil told Patch: "This property is definitely on our radar because of what occurred and because of the historic district and pedestrian activity."

A building inspector stopped by the property Thursday — the day after Patch's conversation with Gil — and issued a stop work order because the property owners lacked permits.

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