Rosedale: Ripe for Investment Right About Now

by Amanda Abrams

Gales Street

In real estate, there are usually three types of neighborhoods: those that are already established, areas that are well on their way to being part of the first group and those that are risky enough that you break out in a sweat just thinking about investing in a home there.

This makes Rosedale, just east of the H Street Corridor and northeast of Capitol Hill, a bit of an anomaly. It definitely doesn’t fit into either of the first two categories — parades of baby carriages, cute corner cafes, or hordes of renovation-ready young professionals have yet to arrive. But according to Rosedale residents, it’s a good place to live that is getting better.

The housing stock is beautiful, amenities are slowly improving, and safety is not quite as much an issue as it has been in the past. There are not a lot of options for hanging out within the neighborhood’s borders, but bustling areas like H Street aren’t far away. Lets just say that you wouldn’t be playing roulette with your savings if you were to buy here.

Still More Old-timers than Newcomers

For decades, Rosedale — which is bounded by Benning Road, 15th Street NE, C Street, and Oklahoma Avenue — was inhabited mostly by middle and working-class residents whose roots in the neighborhood went back generations. That group of folks, which includes young families on up to seniors who are still in their homes, still comprises a majority of Rosedale’s population. There are also newer, more transient residents who live in Rosedale’s apartment buildings or in the low-income housing developments in the area’s northwest corner.

In recent years, Rosedale has also seen a demographic influx similar to that of H Street: single, young professionals who’ve come to the neighborhood because they want to buy a home, but can’t afford other locations in the District.

Amanda Clarke, an architect who has lived on Gales Street in Rosedale since 2004, has gained a good sense of the area’s growing diversity.

“There are people on my block whose families have been in Rosedale for 40 years, others for ten years, and some are brand new,” she said.

Row Houses in Rosedale

Some Good Blocks, Some Not So Good Blocks

Most of the homes in Rosedale are federal-style row houses that were built in the 1920s and 30s. The neighborhood also has a number of small apartment buildings, some of which have recently been converted into condos.

The quality of the homes varies from block to block. Some of the not-so-good streets — such as Gales Street from 16th to 21st Street — are immediately apparent: the houses are covered in vinyl siding, lack a porch, and have little or no yard. However, there are more good streets than bad, and some of the good ones are amazing, lined with old hardwood trees and stately brick row homes fronted by broad porches. These houses have been well-maintained and often include nicely tended gardens.

Some of the nicest streets in Rosedale are the blocks of 21st to 25th Streets from Oklahoma Avenue to Benning Road and D Street between 15th and 17th streets. However, there is no hard and fast rule, and the only way to tell which areas feel and look good is by visiting in person.

Though neighboring H Street is currently undergoing a major boom, Rosedale doesn’t have any new construction, and a plan for a new development near RFK Stadium has been tabled for now.

Home Prices Are Low, Property is Likely to Appreciate

Like the neighborhood’s streets, Rosedale’s housing prices vary considerably.

“With a nicer block, you’ll have to pay more; not a great block, you can get more home for your money,” Brandon Green of Brandon Green Companies told UrbanTurf.

The average sale price for a two-bedroom home in Rosedale is $296,385 and $367,805 for a three-bedroom. One-bedroom condos average $232,290. In the past year, there have been 96 home sales in Rosedale.

Green pointed out that a number of Rosedale condos are in foreclosure, which can be to the buyer’s advantage, but if other condo units in a building are in foreclosure, financing can be difficult — if not impossible — to acquire.

Langston Bar and Grille

Restaurants and Bars? Wrong Neighborhood

There isn’t a whole lot going on in Rosedale. Langston Bar and Grille, an upscale soul food restaurant on Benning Road, is the area’s main restaurant. Check cashing outlets, a catfish takeout spot, and a thrift shop round out the neighborhood’s businesses. (There is a Safeway across Benning Road in the Hechinger Mall). Otherwise, residents have to head a few blocks west to H Street, which has a surfeit of bars, restaurants, cafes, and clubs, or southwest to Capitol Hill to get a bite to eat.

Not Yet the Place for Lots of Wee Ones

The swarms of young families are holding off on moving to Rosedale for now. On warm nights, neighborhood children can be seen hanging out in front of their houses, but most of the new residents are, by and large, childless. That said, Amanda Clarke says she sees more baby carriages than she did two years ago.

“I think that’s something that’s coming in little by little, people feeling safe enough to raise families here,” she said.

While Rosedale doesn’t have a ton of green space, Anacostia Park, just east of Oklahoma Avenue, includes bike trails and playground equipment. Rosedale Recreation Center doesn’t look so great now — the grounds are weedy and overgrown — but it is due for a renovation and the addition of a library next year.

Green Space Near RFK Stadium

Doable With a Car or Without

While Rosedale is close to I-395 and residents say finding a parking spot on the street is easy regardless of the time of day, a car isn’t necessary. The closest Metro station, Stadium-Armory on the Blue and Orange lines, is a 15 to 20 minute walk and the neighborhood is served by the B2, D6, X1, X2, and X3 bus lines.

Getting around should only get easier in the next few years. The much-heralded streetcar is slated for completion in 2012 and will run the length of Benning Road, meaning that most homes in the neighborhood will be just a quick stroll from the new public transportation.

Crime: The Caveat

Rosedale is not the crime and drug-infested neighborhood of the late 1990s or even early 2000s.

“It’s changed a lot,” ten-year resident Victor Davis told UrbanTurf. “Five or ten years ago, you wouldn’t be comfortable riding a bike around here.”

Despite improvement, crime remains an issue.

“From my perspective, crime is still much higher than we’d prefer,” said ANC representative Kelvin Robinson. “The issue we’re concerned with currently is juvenile crime, crimes of opportunity. We saw a rash of carjackings a few months ago, and a rise in burglaries and thefts from autos.”

Over the past 12 months, Rosedale experienced 93 incidents of violent crime (robbery or assault) and 187 incidents of property crime (homes or automobiles).

“There might be police in the area, but that makes me feel more safe,” Amanda Clarke said. “I don’t walk around at 4am, but I do see other people walking around late at night. There’s a good amount of foot traffic.”

1524 Gales Street, UrbanTurf Deal of the Week

The Bottom Line

Evidence of Rosedale’s growing popularity can be seen in an UrbanTurf Deal of the Week from this past March. The featured property was a three-bedroom home that had been renovated on the 1500 block of Gales Street. Within days of hitting the market, the property had seven offers; eventually it sold for $40,000 above the asking price.

Bidding wars could eventually be the norm in Rosedale. While it will likely not be Capitol Hill in the near future and a viable restaurant and retail scene are years away, the growth of H Street to the west bodes well for Rosedale’s future. If the crime rate continues to go down, homes will likely appreciate quickly.

Whatever happens, current residents appear happy with the neighborhood as it is.

“I really like it,” Amanda Clarke said. “It has a good feel to it, like it’s becoming something.”

Amanda Abrams is a Washington, DC-based journalist who has written feature stories for The Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and Washington City Paper.

Want to Know More?

  • Borders: Benning Road to the north, 15th Street NE to the west, C Street NE to the south and the Anacostia River to the east.
  • ZIP code: 20002
  • Rosedale Citizens’ Alliance

See other articles related to: rosedale, hoods

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/rosedale_ripe_for_investment_right_about_now/2164


  1. Amanda Clarke said at 10:03 pm on Monday June 14, 2010:

    Just to clarify, my full comment was “I really like it.  It has a good feel to it, like it’s becoming something… I take that back, long-time residents wouldn’t appreciate that; it is changing but Rosedale has a long, rich history.”  I am pleased to be a part of this current chapter of growth and development in Rosedale.

  1. Selita said at 8:37 am on Tuesday June 15, 2010:

    Great piece as always with the profiles! I love learning about places that I previously knew nothing about.

  1. tom a. said at 10:32 am on Tuesday June 15, 2010:

    Great article!

    I hate to bring up the class issue, but families have felt “safe” enough to bring up children here for generations!  The neighborhood is full of children- probably more than any other neighborhood west of the Anacostia.  The quote should have mentioned that *middle class* family aren’t comfortable moving there yet- and those who do, leave before junior is ready to enter school since the DCPS neighborhood schools are abysmal (at leats based on test scores.)

  1. Chris in Eckington said at 10:33 am on Tuesday June 15, 2010:

    Could have used a bit more historical background like the fact that it was excluded from the borders of the original city of Washington, supposedly because the landowner was a friend of George Washington and didn’t want it included (the original border was supposed to run down Benning Road).  Additionally there a lot of wood frame houses and duplexes that look to me to be from the late 19th/early 20th century, giving it a much different look and feel from neighboring Capitol Hill/H Street.

  1. PostBum said at 10:38 am on Tuesday June 15, 2010:

    These articles have so much info! The Post’s profile of Rosedale a few months ago can’t even compete with this piece.

  1. Wendy said at 11:26 am on Tuesday June 15, 2010:

    I just bought a condo in this neighborhood and while I’m still settling in, I really like it. I thought this neighborhood was known as Kingman Park, though. 

    As for “wee ones,” children are always playing on the playground equipment in the park on Oklahoma Ave, so apparently some parents feel perfectly safe letting their kids play outside.

  1. Flytrap said at 12:20 pm on Tuesday June 15, 2010:

    Thanks for this article.

    We recently decided to buy a home in Rosedale after a long search. Couldn’t be happier. Looking in this neighborhood was like a breath of fresh air after the sticker shock of almost every other area of town, including the H Street corridor that is just a block away. We almost felt like we had found a ‘secret’ neighborhood in where real estate sanity was preserved. Our agent seemed shocked by the housing stock and prices.

    It is possible to buy a unique rowhouse in Rosedale for non-city prices. Some of the properties that have no yards and no porches are quite old and have an almost Georgetown quality about them. Some properties appear small from the front but have large gardens in back. Housing stock varies widely, even by block, and there are several types of houses in Rosedale I haven’t seen anywhere else in DC.

    Our neighbors have been incredibly welcoming and seem excited to have people moving in the area to live and invest in the community.

    In my opinion, the “nice/not-so-nice” distinctions aren’t as much by street as by house or groups of houses. Some of the “nice” streets mentioned (that look like parts of Petworth) seem already overpriced and further from H Street nightlife/the upcoming streetcar line. Some of the “not-so-nice” streets mentioned have lovely homes at incredible prices that are closer to Atlas district than many parts of H street.

    Crime rates are still a problem but they are rapidly dropping (compare stats to Columbia Heights and you might be surprised). The neighborhood isn’t for everyone, but have a look before you decide.

  1. tom a. said at 2:39 pm on Tuesday June 15, 2010:

    Chris in Eckington- Those wood frame houses (mostly duplexes) along Gales and on 16th St. were built for lower-wage workers of the trolley. Almost all of them were built in 1908.  There was a beautiful trolley barn on Benning Road between 15th and 16th streets- which is now a satanic low income apartment complex.  (http://tinyurl.com/2wezanh)

  1. Edith said at 4:18 pm on Tuesday June 15, 2010:

    The writer of this article really do not do their research. The even number houses on the 1600 block of Gales St have some of the biggest back yards in DC. Also the houses were builded in different periods of time so they look different. Also when the street cars arrive & the Starburst being completed in Sept 2010 the houses closer to them should increase in value more than houses further away. I think the writer was article was relying on three party information?

  1. Chris said at 5:10 pm on Tuesday June 15, 2010:

    I agree with Wendy:  my understanding was that the neighborhood contained within the boundaries listed here (15th Street NE, Benning Road NE, Oklahoma Ave NE, C Street NE) is Kingman Park, and Rosedale is a smaller neighborhood contained *within* Kingman Park.

  1. Checking said at 5:33 pm on Tuesday June 15, 2010:

    The Rosedale Citizen’s Alliance has the neighborhood borders as between 15th Street & Oklahoma Avenue and C & H Street/Benning Road, so essentially the same as the article.

  1. Karen said at 5:49 pm on Tuesday June 15, 2010:

    Chris is correct—the historical name for the neighborhood is Kingman Park (since the 1920’s). Rosedale is technically a smaller part of KP and has been only been coined as a neighborhood since the 70’s.

    The Rosedale Citizen’s Alliance encompases both Kingman Park and Rosedale.

    Wendy & Flytrap—You should check out the RCA! They meet the 1st Thursday of the month at Langston’s Bar & Grille on Benning.

  1. Chris in Eckington said at 8:03 pm on Tuesday June 15, 2010:

    Kingman Park was built as a black middle class neighborhood when DC was segregated, a counterpoint to the black public housing of Lanston Terrace accross Benning Rd.  Rosdale predates Kingman Park by several decades although I’m not sure if there were any exclusionary covenants when it was first built.

  1. Ken said at 9:05 pm on Tuesday June 15, 2010:

    RCA and the Capitol Hill Restoration Society did a joint walking tour last summer, it sheds some light into the history of Rosedale and a bit about Kingman Park too.

    http://rosedalecitizen.blogspot.com/search/label/Rosedale Historical Walking-tour

  1. Ken said at 9:10 pm on Tuesday June 15, 2010:

    Let’s try that again…

    http://rosedalecitizen.blogspot.com/search/label/Rosedale Historical Walking-tour

  1. pazzysmom said at 11:44 am on Wednesday June 16, 2010:

    To clarify, the 1st picture in this article is the 1500 block of Gales St - it is meaningless when referring to is just as “Gales Street” because each block has its own personality and look.  I think the 1500 block has a certain coziness and prettiness to it that the others don’t (sorry, I may be biased, as we live there!), as the street is tree-lined on both sides, and the distinctive semi-detached wooden rowhouses are so quaint-looking, even in their varied states of (dis)repair.  DC police once referred to our street as “the eye of the storm,” as most crime happens around our block (though we were burglarized last year - probably a price to eventually pay because we share our back alley with the aforementioned “satanic low income apt complex” - ha ha).  I feel like our little block is a little community within a community.

    Yes, there are “some good blocks and some not so good blocks,” but more to the point, there are some good houses, and some not so good houses within a block!  Our block for one has definitely come a long way since we moved in back in Sep 2004.

    In any event, just wanted to be a cheerleader for our neighborhood - WE LOVE LIVING ON GALES ST!  We have always believed our neighborhood to be the best-kept secret in DC housing neighborhoods.  We have a 2-yr old, and plan to stay despite the limitations of the DCPS system (there are some encouraging options), and we’re looking forward to witnessing and enjoying more neighborhood (incl H St) developments!

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