No Vacancy on 16th Street

by Will Smith

The Argonne on Columbia Road

There has been a lot of talk recently about how tight the rental market is in the DC area. In July, we reported that apartment buildings had ratcheted back the aggressive promotions they’d been running throughout last year. Then last week, market research firm Delta Associates announced that vacancy rates for Class A and B apartments in the area dropped to 2.5 percent, making DC one of the most competitive rental markets in the country. And on Monday, The Washington Post’s Jonathan O’Connell reported that local developers are scrambling to build apartments to take advantage of the current “boom” in rentals.

Despite my awareness of all of the above, I was shocked at just how tight the rental market had become when I started looking for a new place.

Two weeks ago, I began my search for a new apartment. I wanted a one-bedroom in a professionally-managed building near 16th Street Northwest, somewhere along the corridor between P Street to the south in Logan/Dupont and Park Road to the north.

My first call was to Peabody and Theoharis Management, which runs three buildings in the area: Hightowers at 1530 16th Street NW, Washington House at 16th and Florida, and Park Tower on 15th Street across from Meridian Hill Park.

“We’re fully leased up,” Christina Theoharis told me. “It’s strange. We usually have about two vacancies per building per month, but I’m full through the end of November at the earliest.”

I then tried Carmel, which owns a handful of buildings throughout the area. They told me that only two studios were available at the 276-unit Argonne at 1629 Columbia Road NW. Three of their other buildings along 16th Street — Richman Tower with 72 units, the 64-unit Sarbin, and Park Marconi with 44 apartments — are 100 percent leased for the next 30 to 60 days.

The Camden Roosevelt, 100 percent leased

The next call was to the Camden Roosevelt, the 198-unit former hotel at 16th and Florida. “We’ve been 100 percent leased for three months, and our projected occupancy for the next three months is the same,” said leasing consultant Jaime Garcia.

Exasperated, I asked him if it’s always so full. “Not really. In the past six months, we progressed from 95-percent leased to 97, then to 99, and finally to 100 percent,” he said, noting that a unit came available on Saturday and was rented by Tuesday.

I decided to call next door to 2112 New Hampshire, which has 173 apartments and great views of the fountain at Meridian Hill Park. “All I have currently is a junior one-bedroom,” the leasing agent told me.

Getting desperate, I tried Hilltop House at 15th and Euclid. Nothing. The 300-unit Envoy at 2400 16th Street had two units available, but they were both studios.

Finally I found something at Dorchester House, whose claim to fame is that JFK lived there with his sister in 1942. Of all the 395 apartments in the sprawling complex at 16th and Euclid, they had but a single vacancy, which was, mercifully, a one-bedroom. I applied immediately.

“Compared to earlier this year, it really has tightened up,” Debbie Kaplan of rental brokerage Urban Igloo explained, noting that it’s especially tight in popular areas like the 16th Street corridor where I was looking.

One hint she offered to prospective renters is to look at new buildings that are leasing up for the first time, many of which still have blocks of units available. The only caveat is that such buildings are typically Class A (read: pricey).

None of this is to say that it’s impossible to find a place to rent, of course, and admittedly my search was confined to a popular section of Northwest. But prospective tenants need to realize that it is solidly a “landlord’s market” these days and should plan accordingly. If you’ve got your heart set on a certain neighborhood, particularly if it’s a popular one, start looking at least 60 days before you plan to move. And if you find a place you like, don’t assume it will still be there in a week.

As for Dorchester House, I haven’t heard back yet as to whether my application was accepted. In the meantime, if anyone out there has a line on a good one-bedroom, let me know before it is too late.

See other articles related to: renting in dc, dc area market trends

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/no_vacancy_on_16th_street/2570


  1. Rich said at 2:16 pm on Wednesday October 13, 2010:

    It is rough out there, no doubt. I looked for two months, which required sleeping on some couches, until i found something. The most important thing to keep in mind is that if you find something you like, jump on it quickly. Good luck.

  1. Joe said at 3:25 pm on Wednesday October 13, 2010:

    Did you try that dump “Park Meridian” at 2637 16th St.?  It seems to have a high turnover rate, probably due to the roaches and bedbugs.

  1. Jamie said at 5:04 pm on Wednesday October 13, 2010:


    I have a lovely 1BR just for you at The Artisan in Penn Quarter!  $2,100 / month…call me and I’ll give you a deal wink


  1. Janson said at 5:18 pm on Wednesday October 13, 2010:

    Don’t forget to try other william c smith properties:

    The calverton is an amazing deal (when there are vacancies), in my opinion.

  1. Laura said at 9:50 am on Thursday October 14, 2010:

    If you don’t get the place, I’d try looking on craigslist for condo owners who are renting out their places. All my apartments I have found on craigslist and have had pretty good experiences so far.

  1. Rebecca said at 3:38 pm on Sunday October 17, 2010:

    I (literally) just moved out of a large one bedroom in the Century at 2651 16th Street, across from the Polish embassy. A Calomiris building. Not a lot of amenities, but great price and location (and now there’s at least one opening!). http://www.calomiris.com/WWW/THE CENTURY.htm

  1. Jenny said at 10:13 pm on Saturday October 30, 2010:

    The article mentions looking at “new buildings” that are leasing for the first time. Could someone tell me the name of any of these buildings? I’d be interested in renting there, even if the rent is high, but I don’t know how to find out about them. Thank you!

Join the discussion

UrbanTurf now requires registration in order to post comments. Register here, or login below if you are already registered.

Click here if you forgot your password.

DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way

See more Northern Virginia »


Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 neighborhoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »

Upcoming Seminars ▾