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Categorized | Politics & Government


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DCCA to Protest Congolese Embassy Over 16th Street Renovations

Republic of Congo embassy, Toutorsky Mansion

The Toutorsky Mansion in early 2011 prior to its purchase by the Republic of Congo and renovation work. (Borderstan file photo)

The Dupont Circle Citizens Association (DCCA) announced Saturday it will hold a demonstration on Tuesday evening protesting the Republic of Congo’s “willful destruction of the front lawn and several large trees during renovation of its new embassy on 16th Street.”

The protest will take place Tuesday November 15, from 5 to 7 pm, in front of the Embassy of the Republic of Congo at 1720 16th Street NW. According to the DCCA, members at the November 7 monthly membership meeting voted unanimously in support of a board resolution demanding the replacement of the lawn and of the three mature trees.

According to the DCCA news release, “We decided on a course of political action,” said DCCA Preservation Committee Chair and Second Vice President Charles Ellis, “after formal complaints from our colleagues at the Dupont Circle Conservancy and the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (2B) proved not to have the desired effect.”

The Congo (Brazzaville) purchased the 1894 Toutorsky Mansion earlier this year. In January ANC 2B voted 8-0 to protest the Congo’s plans to turn the mansion into a chancery-embassy location. Commissioner Jack Jacobson (2B04), whose district includes the property, told Borderstan in January that the resolution of disapproval passed after the commission reviewed photos of the Republic of Congo property at 16th Street and Colorado Avenue NW. The photos show serious maintenance problems with the property.

The Congo property, at the corner of 16th Street and Riggs Place NW, is in the Sixteenth Street Historic District. According to DC tax records, the previous owners bought the property in 2001 for $2.2 million and it was assessed by the city at $4.5 million when the Congo government was negotiating its purchase. The previous owners started a limited bed and breakfast operation soon after purchase and sought to expand in 2004, but were denied by the BZA.

Under DC law, front lawns are city property, but Embassy properties are considered foreign soil and exempt from DC law. Knowing this, neighborhood officials had specifically requested that no changes be made to the historic greensward. The sale was approved by the Board of Zoning Adjustment’s Foreign Missions Department only after Congo agreed.

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- who has written 1898 posts on Borderstan.

Rhoades has lived in the Borderstan area for 17 years. When he’s not writing about the area he loves, he follows politics, tends his garden and spoils Lupe, the world’s cutest and smartest dog. Find him on Twitter @mattyrhoades; email him at matty[AT]borderstan.com.

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4 Responses to “DCCA to Protest Congolese Embassy Over 16th Street Renovations”

  1. M says:

    Avi, There are two countries called the Congo. The former eyesore at New Hampshire and S was owned by the other Congo (AKA Zaire).

  2. Avi says:

    You should see the appalling wreckage of an embassy they left behind at the former location. You guys really aren’t gonna like them as neighbors.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] We posted earlier this week on the demonstration outside of the Congolese Embassy after the embassy paved the front lawn. I drive by it daily and I do miss the trees. [...]

  2. [...] demonstrated in front of the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) Embassy on 16th Street NW. The Congolese government paved the front lawn and chopped down trees. It is unclear how much of a legal recourse the residents of the area have [...]