The Neighborhoods of 2015

by Mark Wellborn

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Here at UrbanTurf, we have found that DC homebuyers are almost as interested in finding a good-priced single-family home in a neighborhood that is on the up-and-up as they are in plunking down half a million dollars for a condo in the center of the city.

With that in mind, we asked a selection of bloggers, journalists, real estate agents and developers to give us their thoughts on the unsung DC neighborhood that will be attracting homebuyers in 2015.


Mount Pleasant Street

By Lydia DePillis, author of Housing Complex at the Washington City Paper

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Mount Pleasant Street

I know, Mount Pleasant is not exactly a marginal area at the moment. But think about the contrast between how the demographics of the neighborhood have changed and how much its central artery has stayed the same: Small Salvadoran restaurants and shops with odds and ends, not much in the way of nightlife beyond the Raven, and a surplus of vacant storefronts. In part because landlords still insist on charging unrealistically high rents, it’s nowhere near the kind of vibrant commercial avenue that the young, increasingly affluent population could support. Various plans have circulated to revitalize the strip, but agreement has been elusive, and none have come to fruition.

I’m going to go ahead and project, however, that within the next five years, demographic pressures will overwhelm the malaise. A streetscape plan will widen sidewalks enough for healthy pedestrian traffic, the success of places like Dos Gringos will attract a few more high-quality restaurants, and the rebuilding of the fire-ravaged Deauville apartments will fill a hole that has haunted the strip for two years. With some work, the small businesses that have stayed for years will survive and prosper as well.


Rosslyn

By Ken Johnson, publisher of DCmud

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Rosslyn

I chose Rosslyn, not for the typical reasons of blight-to-gentrification, but because it was always known as being not DC – a tall, orderly, bland, homogenized, 9-to-5 refuge to DC’s busy, demographically complicated, oxidized urbanity. With a flight of new residential buildings and more on the way (pricey as they may be), Rosslyn is on the verge of developing a neighborhood. Imagine, if you will, sit-down restaurants, markets open on weekends, coffee houses, people coming to the neighborhood for dinner and a movie. If the business district can tackle middle age, and remedy its overly wide streets, walkways to nowhere, retail problem, and unbuffered sidewalks — all of which the local BID has pondered — it may yet offer more than just office space in a safe zip code. And did I mention that it’s close to DC?


Trinidad and Pleasant Plains

By Dan Silverman aka Prince of Petworth

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Trinidad

I know the question was 2015 but I’m going to say these neighborhoods are going to be popping by 2020. I’m a big fan of Trinidad. I know many people only associate that neighborhood with random police checks, but it has a stellar location and it is going to benefit from all the growth now being seen in NoMa and along H Street. If I were to buy an investment property it’d be in Trinidad.

Also, look for Pleasant Plains to be hopping in 2015/2020. Remember that Georgia Avenue is slated to get a streetcar in the second phase of deployment, and Pleasant Plains will also benefit from the continued development of Columbia Heights to the west and Petworth/Park View to the north.

Good luck to all who may be in the hunt!


Brookland

By Jim Abdo, founder of Abdo Development

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Brookland Metro

Brookland is a wonderful tight-knit neighborhood, with the same turn-of-the-century historic charm of Cleveland Park but without the price tag. It also boasts its own Metro station (just three stops to Union Station) and the cultural amenity of two major universities: Catholic University and Trinity College. Throw in an emerging 12th Street retail district, which will be further expanding with redevelopment of the CUA South Campus, and you have one of the best-kept secrets in all of Washington.


Historic Anacostia

By Nate Guggenheim, real estate agent with Coldwell Banker

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Renovated Home in Historic Anacostia

I think that the most overlooked part of the city and the one that will offer a true opportunity to the investor and the pioneer alike (over the long term) is the historic portion of Anacostia. I am talking about the lettered and numbered streets of the 20020 zip code. Where else, within minutes of downtown, with absolutely gorgeous views of the city is it possible to purchase a three-bedroom house (detached and in good condition) for well below $250,000? What could be the perfect real estate storm exists: proximity to public transport, a decent zoning plan with commercial near enough to residential, public parks and pools, easy access in and out of the city and a generally quaint form of architecture that would appeal to many. It is far riskier than a Petworth or LeDroit, but the upside potential could be huge and a movement towards the other side of the Anacostia River could lead to great things for the city as a whole. Call me crazy…perhaps 2025.


Southeast Waterfront (aka Capitol Riverfront)

By Ross McWilliams, founder of real estate brokerage and marketing firm McWilliams|Ballard

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Capitol Quarter Townhouses

Last year, the Southeast Waterfront seemed to be the redheaded stepchild of the development world. There was a ton of negative press out there touting vacant apartment buildings and stalled high-profile developments. Fast forward to today and you have almost 2,000 new residents between the apartments and EYA’s Capitol Quarter and two large parks that are either about to start or are already under construction. By 2015, this neighborhood isn’t going to be built-out by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s going to be a lot further along. Don’t forget, this neighborhood is probably three times the size of the area around the Verizon Center, which took 10 years to get built out and become vibrant, so it’s going to take a while before it’s fully realized. If you look at the bones though – proximity to Capitol Hill, access to Metro and major roads, Nationals Park, a potential streetcar line, a waterfront park that I think will be one of the best in the city and of course the river – this neighborhood starts to make a lot of sense as a place to live. If you assume that Half Street is finished in five years and some of Forest City’s The Yards is completed, this neighborhood is going to be really appealing to people.


Truxton Circle

By Suzanne Des Marais, real estate agent with Urban Pace

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Row Houses in Truxton Circle

I live in Bloomingdale and when I started working over here more than nine years ago, it was definitely considered fringy. Now, I often have buyers come to my open houses or call me with specific interest in the neighborhood, but find that they are priced out. A lot of these folks are ending up in the adjacent neighborhoods of either Truxton Circle (south of Florida Avenue, north of New York Avenue), or NE Eckington (directly to the east across North Capitol Street). Given that a few years ago people bought in Bloomingdale because it was affordable, but now people actually seek the area out, I see the expansion to the close-by neighborhoods as having the same effect in a few years.


Fort Totten

By Kevin Wood, real estate agent with William Sawyer and Co.

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Fort Totten Station

Fort Totten is a post-war neighborhood in Northeast that should see a lot of activity over the next few years as several large-scale developments around the Fort Totten Metro get under way, including a massive 1,000-unit development that will include a new grocery store. Fort Totten is missing a core like 14th and Irving in Columbia Heights as the area now is just street after street of brick rowhouses. That will likely change with the coming development, and given the fact that there is a Metro stop on the Red Line, and that it’s close in, Fort Totten should witness a renaissance and see an influx of new residents eager to take advantage of the lower-priced housing.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the_neighborhoods_of_2015/2091

21 Comments

  1. Barry said at 8:49 am on Friday May 21, 2010:

    Good choices! One other possibility is Hillcrest. That area is already a great place to buy a single-family home for about $350K and will only grow in popularity.

  1. Barbara said at 11:19 am on Friday May 21, 2010:

    What about Woodridge…Brookland’s neighbor?

  1. dan reed! said at 12:22 pm on Friday May 21, 2010:

    Hyattsville and the Gateway Arts District along Route 1 in Prince George’s County. I know it’s not in the city (though neither is Rosslyn) but I tell all of my 20s-ish friends who will be buying houses around 2015 to do it there. Great old houses, decent schools (better than D.C., at least), Metro, and a small but growing downtown. Totally worth it.

  1. Linda said at 1:13 pm on Friday May 21, 2010:

    This is a wonderful piece and I appreciate the variety of different perspectives. I agree about Brookland completely and also think historic Anacostia is not necessarily 5 years from coming up…but certainly on the horizon.

  1. Jay'O said at 10:25 pm on Friday May 21, 2010:

    I disagree about Pleasant Plains (a.k.a. East Columbia Heights) is going to be pretty much bought out by 2015.  Right now, about 65-70% of the houses have been bought by young professionals already.  The “heads in beds” theory is working out that commercial development won’t come until a neighborhood has enough people with disposable income living nearby. 

    Well, Pleasant Plains and Georgia Avenue has more new commercial and residential development on tap than it has had in the last 40 years.  This not only indicates that the “heads are in the beds” NOW - but that if the heads are in the beds, the neighborhood has basically arrived… at least residentially.

  1. MtP said at 8:34 am on Monday May 24, 2010:

    I disagree with your Mount Pleasant Street assessment. It isn’t high rents keeping businesses out; businesses are afraid to move there because of the longstanding anti-business attitude of many Mount Pleasant residents. Any restaurant or bar that wants to open up along that strip has to follow a draconian set of rules that make profitability impossible.

    At the very worst, that’s the perception, and that perception has gone a long way toward keeping Mount Pleasant Street down.

  1. George said at 9:24 am on Monday May 24, 2010:

    Awesome piece. Provides some really good perspectives. I live in Pleasant Plains now and can only hope that the investment I made in my home last year will pay off in 2015.

  1. Res said at 9:36 am on Monday May 24, 2010:

    Good article, but nothing on Shaw?  I feel like Shaw/Mt. Vernon is lagging far behind Chinatown to the south and Logan Circle to the west, but is perfectly situated for a renaissance.

  1. jj said at 10:55 am on Monday May 24, 2010:

    what an excellent piece of reporting! this is exactly what some home buyers are looking for. a better question would be how did the first wave of buyers (original buyers) feel about moving out of the more established neighborhoods way back when? is our current renaissance map following the same path?

  1. Dana Hollish Hill said at 10:58 am on Monday May 24, 2010:

    Very interesting selections. Some of the areas that could really make it in the coming years are missing one key thing - a good and convenient grocery store. SE Waterfront will have one soon, but it is definitely a drawback at the moment.

    There are so many pioneers looking at real estate now. It’s great to see. However, I still have many clients who tell me they won’t buy in a neighborhood until Starbucks moves in. For the pioneers that is too late, but for many single buyers, that is their indicator for safety.

    I can’t wait until 2015 to see if these predictions are correct.

  1. Brenda said at 11:02 am on Monday May 24, 2010:

    I agree with Barry re: Hillcrest. I live on the outskirts of Hillcrest and I believe that those homes rival many that I’ve seen in upper NW and the price is right.

  1. ali said at 11:13 am on Monday May 24, 2010:

    Pretty good write up. I agree with most of the neighborhoods named but not all. Different strokes for different folks I suppose. Neverthless, I was especially pleased to see Fort Totten on the list. Ive lived there for the past few years and constantly preaching to friends how its the hidden gem of the city. Low home prices, little crime, and close to everything. Two Metro stops away from U Street, my entertainment district of choice and 15 minute to drive most places ie Downtown Silver Spring, Friendship Heights, Bethesda. Ive never had any “real” issues beyond what you would find in any neighborhood. The only downside is that there is no real center as the author suggested, but that is FINALLY going to change (crossing fingers). If your reading this article and looking for somewhere in the city to live check out the Fort Totten area its a pretty nice place to live.

  1. Tom A. said at 11:14 am on Monday May 24, 2010:

    No H street corridor? That’s surprising.

  1. Jeanne said at 11:21 am on Monday May 24, 2010:

    @ Res—Shaw was DC’s neighborhood of 2008.

    @ Tom A.—H Street was DC’s neighborhood of 2010.

  1. Jamie said at 12:41 pm on Monday May 24, 2010:

    Echoing the other commenter about Mt. Pleasant Street. I lived there from 1996 to 2005 and the number of non-Latino oriented businesses that opened in that time can be counted on one hand.

    The development a stone’s throw away in Columbia Heights makes it even less likely (in my mind) that things will change rapidly there. Many of the businesses that are sorely lacking there can already be found in Columbia Heights.

    The train has come and gone for Mt. Pleasant. The demographic changes that should have driven business there have been present for more than a decade—and not much happened.

    I hope to be proven wrong, but now, as ten years ago, Mt. Pleasant Street seems to remain in stasis.

  1. Jamie said at 12:44 pm on Monday May 24, 2010:

    Oh - also I think what is notably absent is Petworth. There is a ton of development slated for Georgia Avenue and well underway near the Petworth metro.

    Petworth has many small business areas like Kennedy Street, Upshur Street (near Domku, and near the Old Soldier’s home) in addition to Georgia Avenue, and Petworth remains one of the best values in terms of how much house you get, convenient location, and safety in the city. The demographics have changed rapidly in only a few years and the rash of foreclosures continue to keep housing prices well below the $500k mark for much of Petworth.

    I think this quiet, close-in neighborhood will see a lot of changes in the next few years.

  1. DG Cromwell said at 9:47 am on Tuesday May 25, 2010:

    I guess Mr. Wellborn could have made projections for every neighborhood in the district and outer cities limits. From what I gather, the development is mostly moving eastwards from the established central and west districts. This trend implies that we are going to see a more diversified DC. Some may use the controversial g word. I can only state my opinions on my own neighborhood, Bloomingdale. I love my home. My only wish is that it could develop as well as the H st corridor. There is a lot of anti-Fenty bureaucracy in my ward. How is everyone else feeling in their own ward?

  1. Mark B said at 12:43 pm on Tuesday May 25, 2010:

    This is assuming that this is sustainable post-peak oil production & $50+ / gallon gasoline coming in 2014.  Developers should highly consider adding in areas for vegetable farming like they are in a few other cities.

  1. John said at 1:15 pm on Friday May 28, 2010:

    Well. As a MTP resident I do get a chuckle at the notion that the Hstreet area arrived in 2010 while Mount Pleasant apparently plays a game of catch up… Hoping to arrive around 2015.  But I digress. I agree 100% with your outlook on MTP the STREET. It is currently lacking but poised for great things in the next few years. As it is now the disposable income set leaves the neighborhood to spend their money because there just isn’t anything worthwhile here.  And with it being an easy enough walk to Adams Morgan/ U street/Columbia Heights/ Woodley Park/ and even Cleveland Park why settle for whats here.  That said we would rather keep our money in the neighborhood and as worthwhile places begin to open I’ll glady stay put.  So I agree that come 2015 MTP will be realizing its full potential.  I’ve already heard rumors of investors snooping around our vacant storefronts and a possible coffee shop in the works. So hopefully there is good news to come.

  1. Ivan said at 11:43 am on Wednesday August 4, 2010:

    Im not sure i agree with the timeline assessment on Historic Anacostia. With the phased development of St. E’s for HSA’s new headquarters, all the major infrastructure improvements still going on today, and the slow but steady upswing of buyers closing on non-performing “nuisance” properties at DHCD auctions and rehabbing with HPO grant $$ and HUD subsidies, 2025 seems pretty unfair. That MLK and Good Hope intersection is retail heaven. Metro accessible, right across the bridge, the views, and its historic? I’ll see your 2025 and raise you 2017. By 2025 it may resemble something more like… Georgetown?

  1. act said at 8:03 am on Wednesday October 30, 2013:

    I guess “good priced” and “on the up and up” are relative terms. That withstanding, most every area on this list is priced well over 500k for a single family home. The only exceptions are fort totten and historic anacostia.

    Fort Totten homes are pretty ugly boxes imho. It is also a boring area far from entertainment and workplaces. Brookland development might change that calculus but the homes are still ugly.

    Historic Anacostia seems like a diamond in the rough. Though recently nice detached homes in the area have sold at 290 and are currently listed over 300. Otherwise they require work, which is ok because of grants and tax breaks available for the area. The areas a little rough but that fits my definition of being on the “up and up”.

    Thought Woodridge deserved a mention.

    If you are listing non-dc locales I thought Mt Rainier and Hyattsville deserved the nod over Rosslyn.

    Of course my list assumes one can’t afford over 500k for a home. I mean I make over 100k and my partner makes about the same and we can’t afford/don’t feel comfortable with that much house, but go figure

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