Comp and Circumstance: Old Washington Vs. New Washington

by Rebecca Ortega

Comp and Circumstance presents two listings of roughly similar prices in DC and compares the pros and cons of each. This week, we pit a classic one-bedroom condo in Kalorama against a chic industrial one-bedroom near the Convention Center. Both units are on the market for $389,900. Let us know in the comments which of the two you feel is the better buy. See all our past Comp and Circumstance features here.


One-Bedroom in “Classic Washington”

This week’s Comp and Circumstance is an opportunity to compare old and new Washington. One condo represents the historic style that typifies classic Washington, while another offers the more modern, emerging version of the city that has started to take hold over the last decade.


2032 Belmont Rd NW is an Art Deco-style building, steps from Rock Creek Park and an 11-minute walk to the Woodley Park-Adams Morgan Metro station on the Red line (map). The unit (#108) is unusually spacious for a one-bedroom (a product of the building’s age), including not only the standard bedroom, kitchen and living areas, but a separate dining room, sun room and small utility space as well. It has hardwood floors throughout, high ceilings and crown molding, and a staffed front desk.

The location is likely ideal for many, close to the sought-after amenities of Dupont and Adams Morgan, but far enough away to not be bothered by the traffic on Connecticut Avenue or the drunken masses on 18th Street.

There are downsides to this unit: it is on the first floor of the building, sports a dated kitchen and radiator heating, has a shared laundry facility, and does not include a parking spot. The price is a bit deceptive as well, as it comes with a hefty $665/month condo fee.


One-Bedroom in “New DC”

437 New York Avenue NW is also known as Yale Steam Laundry, a converted industrial building just to the east of the Convention Center. The development is only two years old, meaning the maintenance concerns will be few (as compared to the Kalorama unit), and the renovation retained the industrial history of the property, keeping the floor-to-ceiling windows and loft-like boxy feel some buyers go crazy for. Additional pluses include in-unit laundry, a small balcony, and a slew of building amenities including a rooftop pool, gym, and several pool tables. The unit also includes a garage parking space, which is worth at least $25,000 in this area.


For all that this building offers, there are some cons. Aesthetically, the unit has mixed flooring (tile in the kitchen, carpet in the bedroom, hardwood in the main living space) which detracts from its visual flow. Buyers will also fork over a $453/month condo fee. This isn’t nearly as high as the Kalorama unit’s fee, and it can be justified by the building’s many amenities, but it’s still not cheap.

The location of the building is probably the biggest question. It straddles the border between southern Shaw and Mount Vernon Triangle, on busy New York Avenue (map). Buyers will find themselves at the mouth of I-395, which, while convenient for drivers to get out of the city, is loud and a far cry from the Kalorama unit’s across-the-street view of Rock Creek Park.

It is close to the Metro, though, with the Convention Center station just eight minutes away. Also, the highly-desirable retail amenities of CityVista — Safeway, Busboys and Poets, Taylor Gourmet, etc. — are just a (long) block away, and the heart of Chinatown is just another six or seven minutes beyond that. So while the New York Avenue unit’s immediate surroundings might not be the most charming, it is certainly convenient.

So, what do you think? Is the neighborhood appeal and Art-Deco charm of the Belmont unit your cup of tea? Or would buyers be better off taking a chance on the more modern New York Avenue property? Let us know your preference in the comments.

  2032 Belmont Rd NW #108 437 New York Ave NW #509
Bedrooms 1 1
Bathrooms 1 1
Square footage 879 746
Pros Spacious, quiet, Rock Creek Park, pretty close to Metro Rooftop pool, gym, garage parking space, even closer to Metro
Cons High condo fee,
few included amenities
Faces a busy street
Price $389,900 $389,900
Neighborhood Kalorama Convention Center
Links Full listingMap Full listingMap

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/comp_and_circumstance_old_washington_vs._new_washington/2257


  1. Erica said at 10:20 pm on Wednesday July 14, 2010:

    The Yale Steam unit. I went to two of their open houses during the grand opening and the amenities are very impressive. If you are going to pay high condo fees, you might as well get a gym and pool out of it.

  1. jag said at 1:37 am on Thursday July 15, 2010:

    While I do love Yale Steam, it’s always seemed overpriced to me for one reason - location.  I simply could never bring myself to pay almost 400K for that area. My vote’s for Kalorama.

  1. swester said at 8:12 am on Thursday July 15, 2010:

    For what Yale Steam charges for its “location,” it really isn’t even that great in comparison to buildings like CityVista. It’s stuck way up on NY Ave. Also, some of the units in Yale have the most bizarre floorplans…

  1. Chris said at 8:57 am on Thursday July 15, 2010:

    The kitchen is tiny in the Kalorama unit plus you are paying really high condo fees and you aren’t getting any amenities. Even if you don’t have a car at the Yale unit, you could rent your space out and bring in some $$.

  1. nepe said at 10:11 am on Thursday July 15, 2010:

    I lived for almost 10 years in Kalorama and going on 3 years in Mt. Vernon.  Both are great neighborhoods but Mt. Vernon and surrounding neighborhoods are where the city’s new life really lies.  Its much more dynamic and a great mix of old and new architecture and old and new residents.  There’s still more development that needs to be done but even the vacant buildings are valued at several million.  The new hotel will probably relaunch the neighborhood’s redevelopment.

  1. Roberta said at 10:25 am on Thursday July 15, 2010:

    My vote is for Yale Steam unit.  The amenities are fantastic at this building and there is a lot to be said for paying for new construction verus a first floor unit in an old building.

  1. Lauren said at 10:31 am on Thursday July 15, 2010:

    I like the Belmont one better. The design and layout of it makes it look more like ‘home’ compared to NY Ave which to me seems like a cold, sterile apt, plus Belmont St is larger. And that pool is so tiny! Doesn’t seem like many people could hang out there on a summer afternoon. What a waste.

  1. Laur said at 10:37 am on Thursday July 15, 2010:

    Whoa- condo fees on both are too high! I couldn’t bring myself to pay a mortgage and these fees each month! Guess I’m not ready for old or new DC. But being the old-fashioned type, I’d opt for the home-y charm of Kalorama unit.

  1. Jimmy said at 11:00 am on Thursday July 15, 2010:

    I’d love to see a breakdown of how they determine condo fees at Kalorama. No pool, no gym, no parking—what are you paying for? Condo fees in general are such a money grab…

    Regardless, Nepe is right. When the convention center hotel goes in (which, albeit, may not be for some time), that neighborhood is going to be quite the city center (not to be confused with the long promised “City Center” which is currently a giant parking lot full of tour buses and inexplicable, amateur acrobatics).  Kalorama is a nice area, but its current state is certainly as good as its going to get.

  1. Laura said at 11:08 am on Thursday July 15, 2010:

    New DC digs for sure! Look at those ceilings and that balcony.
    This site is fantastic! Please keep the posts coming!

  1. Janson said at 11:19 am on Thursday July 15, 2010:

    Great comparison. It will be exciting to see if the market values them at similar prices at closing. With the Kalorama unit you know what you are getting and that’s all you’ll be getting: it’s a conservative choice. With the Steam Laundry you don’t really know what you are getting - the mood of the neighborhood hasn’t been resolved yet. As an aside, you can probably replace the carpeting or tile at the Steam after the first year with the savings from the condo fees and renting out the parking space. Forced to choose, I’d live halfway between these two.

  1. Richko said at 11:28 am on Thursday July 15, 2010:

    >[Yale Steam] Cons: Faces a busy street

    Well, the building does, but this particular unit (I went to the open house) faces the evidently quiet alley behind the building.  On the plus side, the view from the living room/balcony is mainly a very large, leafy tree that was quite pleasant as opposed to the alley view on the periphery & below.

  1. swester said at 7:26 pm on Thursday July 15, 2010:

    Shared laundry at the Kalorama unit?  For nearly $400,000, forget it.

  1. Citi said at 10:53 am on Friday July 16, 2010:

    Love this comparison.  I’d go for the new construction, only because the unit in Kalorama is on the first floor of an older building.  The high condo fees are out of control, indicating high maintenance issues to me.  The Yale unit is a great first home and would be an easier sell.

  1. s said at 11:26 am on Sunday July 18, 2010:

    great post!
    i prefer the yale laundry.
    people that say ” way up on new york avenue” don’t think the same way about the city as i do.
    walkable to the red and green lines ( 99% of my metro rides n the past 15 years are on these lines) walkable to the mall, chinatown, noma ( someday it will be a great destination) new library and rec center nearby. its a total win neighborhood and certainly has fantastic potential.

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