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The Push East: Trinidad, The Next Frontier

by Tim Brown

Please see our 2013 updated profile on Trinidad here:

Trinidad: The Difference 5 Years Makes

Sweeping east across the District, the real estate gold rush has taken developers and speculators to such long-forgotten neighborhoods as Columbia Heights and Trinidad…

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Row houses in Trinidad

The above excerpt was taken from a 2005 Washington Post article when the real estate boom was in full swing and no parcel of land or DC neighborhood looked undevelopable. As part of this boom, investors and brave home buyers began purchasing abandoned shells off of pure speculation in the Northeast DC neighborhood known as Trinidad (map).

In 2005 alone, property tax assessments rose 33 percent in Trinidad, the largest increase of any DC neighborhood, and the future looked bright for a zip code primarily known for its crime level, not its housing inventory.

However, as the real estate market went into a tailspin, planned condo developments never materialized, public investment funds that would have improved the community quickly dried up, and home values plummeted back to earth. Because there were far fewer buyers than during bubble periods, its real estate would not see much activity.

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Trinidad by Moravsky Vrabec

Now, buyers are back, moving at a frenzied pace to take advantage of government incentives and low interest rates, and even neighborhoods that were once thought to be “transitional” have proved to be too competitive for many first-time buyers. These buyers are once again turning to neighborhoods that they normally would not have considered, Trinidad among them.

The statistics speak for themselves. According to realtor Serwa Agyeman, 78 properties were sold in Trinidad in 2009, up significantly from 2008 when just 47 properties sold. Most of the home buying activity is concentrated along the southwest portion of the neighborhood that straddles Florida Avenue. This area is lined with brick-front row houses mostly occupied by long-time homeowners, but now also attracting first-timers who consider the properties to be good deals. (The average price for a home in Trinidad hovers around $200,000.)

Bryan Crawford cites the architecture as one of the main reasons he decided to buy in the neighborhood.

“You can tell Trinidad has great potential just by looking at the houses,” Crawford told UrbanTurf. “It has basically every style of house that you can find in other areas of the city, from Colonial to Victorian to Contemporary.”

Although he says the neighborhood’s crime initially made him hesitant, he is single with no kids and found that the area is very block-by-block, with some streets feeling safer than others.

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Homes along Morse Street in Trinidad

We would be remiss if we didn’t write about the historically high crime level in Trinidad as it is unfortunately what many people associate with the neighborhood. This reputation was only bolstered in 2008 when DC police set up military-like checkpoints at select intersections after a spate of shootings. Crime, particularly homicides, dropped off noticeably in the past year, though. The Washington Times reported in December that there had not been a murder reported in the neighborhood since October 2008.

Beyond a drop in crime and affordable housing stock, there are several other factors that make Trinidad attractive. Its proximity to downtown and the New York Avenue Metro station make it convenient for downtown commuters. The resurgence of neighboring H Street has been well-documented and some of the area’s reputation has rubbed off on Trinidad. Streetcar tracks are already being laid along H Street that would give Trinidad and the surrounding area direct access to another form of transit.

While we don’t expect Whole Foods to set up shop anytime soon, if you’re looking for value and long-term investment potential, Trinidad may be the place.

See other articles related to: trinidad, hoods

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the_push_east_trinidad_the_next_frontier/1782

29 Comments

  1. Ward 5 Resident said at 10:30 am on Tuesday February 16, 2010:

    If you are going to do Trinidad, live as close to H street as possible.  The main issue with Trinidad is the lack of a Metro station.  You may want to check out the Eckington neighborhood if you’re interested in Trinidad.  A little more expensive but more amenities.

  1. Swest said at 10:46 am on Tuesday February 16, 2010:

    I looked at a few properties along the trinidad-truxton circle border area, and although some of the renovated units are pretty nicely done (and have reasonable $/sq. ft), I made the wise move of driving back during the night - and in many respects, it’s still Trinidad.

    Many in 5 years it’ll be better, but for now I think you’re better off in an area like Eckington.

  1. SoFlo said at 10:59 am on Tuesday February 16, 2010:

    I’m not going to disagree that it is now a seller’s market, but there are still affordable options south of Florida Ave and even south of H Street. Check out Kingman Park. Areas closer to the Starburst (MD Ave, Bladensburg, Benning, H St) will demand higher resale values than Morse, Neal, Oats, etc.

  1. davy crocket said at 11:12 am on Tuesday February 16, 2010:

    where is the second photo taken?

  1. Trinidad homeowner said at 11:36 am on Tuesday February 16, 2010:

    I’ve lived in Trinidad for 5 years, without incident. My neighbors are great and my street is incredibly friendly. For anyone interested in checking out Trinidad, I would recommend West Virginia Ave., the western border of the neighborhood, which faces Gallaudet University. We enjoy the university amenities, are closer to Metro, and are removed from crime inside of the neighborhood.

  1. DC Home Inspector said at 1:16 pm on Tuesday February 16, 2010:

    I live next to trinidad as well. I have to say it’s improved substantially in the past few years. Sure, there are some problems, but I feel safe on the street at night and have had no issue with my neighbors.h

  1. anon said at 3:28 pm on Tuesday February 16, 2010:

    I think that second photo is on queen street. maybe oates.

  1. IMGoph said at 3:50 pm on Tuesday February 16, 2010:

    the second picture is queen, not oates.

    there are many, many, many long-term residents in this neighborhood who are fantastic people. i live in a house surrounded by these people (i’ve lived in trinidad for about 6 months now).

    the wapo lede listed above sure looks at things from the POV that the neighborhood is a tabula rasa, not an established neighborhood. it’s a shame the neighborhood gained the reputation it has lately, there are many other places in DC that have more street crime than trinidad.

  1. Danielle said at 4:38 pm on Tuesday February 16, 2010:

    Thanks for the positive words about my favorite DC neighborhood.

    As a resident of Trinidad, I can tell you there are many more reasons to live here than value and long-term investment potential. Trinidad is simply a great place to live, with a strong sense of community, a rich history (did you know Trinidad was home to the original Washington Senators baseball team?)

    I have lived many places in the DC metro area and elsewhere in the country—my neighbors here are unparalleled. Yes, I know my neighbors. People make a point of getting to know each other. Some families have lived here for generations, others are new. We are not gentrifying but blending. It works.

    Trinidad has two recreation centers: Trinidad Rec Center which reopened in 2007 after an extensive renovation and Joe Cole Rec Center which is currently being rebuilt attached to the newly renovated Wheatly Education Campus (the old Joe Cole will remain open until the new one opens). Did I mention the school that reopened this year after undergoing a full modernization?

    Much of this has to do with the community and efforts of the people who have lived here for decades and those who have recently joined the neighborhood. Trinidad neighbors are invested in building the quality of life in their community, and not just because of 2007’s spate of violence.

    I moved to the neighborhood during that time and found people already deeply engaged in the community.

    Oh, and one reason why home sales are concentrated closer to Florida Ave is because many of those houses have significantly larger yards than those in the upper part of the neighborhood. Yes, Trinidad has actual yards…

    I encourage anyone interested in Trinidad to contact the Trinidad Neighborhood Association. You can find it on the web at http://www.trinidad-dc.org.

  1. DC Home Inspector said at 9:37 pm on Tuesday February 16, 2010:

    Following up on Danielle’s comments, Trinidad is also a great place to find hidden gems for food. The places you would least expect have some of the best surprises.

  1. JR said at 9:55 pm on Tuesday February 16, 2010:

    What are some of the gems for food there?

  1. SinHeart said at 11:40 am on Wednesday February 17, 2010:

    My friend just forwarded this article to me and I read it with great interest and fear.  I just bought a house in Trinidad in March.  I have spent the last 11 months renovating the house and I have absolutely no regrets about the house nor the neighborhood. 

    Most of the residents on my block are homeowners that have lived there for decades.  There are several families that own homes right across the street from their relatives.  As a single woman I feel completely safe walking home at night.  The people are friendly and respectful.  Yes, some are poor, but most are middle class and living in a neighborhood that was forced into economic decline when DC decided to open a methodone clinic around the corner.  Fortunately, that has now been closed.  THe houses are indeed beautiful and just need a little TLC to restore it to what it once was.  Did you know that Neal St. was once featured in Better Homes and Gardens years ago because of the beautiful rose gardens on the block. 

    Now I say I read it with fear only because my sister also plans to buy a home in the neighborhood, and I fear that bringing such positive attention to a neighborhood that has been flying under the radar will cause the prices to skyrocket and rival those of home found just 2 blocks south of H St. 

    For the record, I would not want to live anywhere else in DC.

  1. Dawn said at 11:45 am on Wednesday February 17, 2010:

    I bought a house in Trinidad a couple years ago.  The reasons I moved here were: a-I could afford it, b-I could have off street parking, c-When I was only looking at houses I met a couple of (long-term) neighbors and they were really nice, & d-I could walk to some restaurants.  I had no idea that a street car was coming (they had talked about if for a decade, so I put no stock into it), or that the area would be considered ‘up and coming.’  I bought a house for the reasons that I thought most people buy a house- to “settle-down” and because it makes sense financially.  Personally I am happy that most people are too scared of Trinidad’s reputation to rush in and start buying up properties.  That means that most of the people that do move here aren’t looking to flip a house but instead are looking to invest in a community they plan to be a part of for awhile.  I would take one neighbor that is looking to settle down over five looking to flip any day.

  1. DC Resident said at 11:49 am on Wednesday February 17, 2010:

    Trinidad has been “just a few years away” for a decade now. There are much better options, and parts of Trinidad are still a war zone.

  1. DG Cromwell said at 12:50 pm on Wednesday February 17, 2010:

    The Washington Post’s crime statistics of zip codes 20002 (Trinidad) and 20008 (Cleveland & Woodley Park) indicate that the total risk percentage is equally at 188%. 20016 (also Cleveland & Woodley Park) is higher at 230%. Another neighborhood that typically receives a bad rep is Anacostia, which the total risk percentage is only 116%, while Capitol Hill is at an alarming 230%. The lowest total risk district zip was 20005 (Chinatown) at 64%. Total risk percentage is based on comparison to the national murder rate, theft, rape, etc.

    Although the numbers don’t tell us everything, it can help clear some misconceptions about a particular neighborhood. I wouldn’t glorify Trinidad as others have stated, but I would testify that it is a better neighborhood than its perceived reputation. Like many things in life, bad reps take time to erase. Unlike the bustling Dupont and Chinatown areas, Trinidad feels more like suburbia.

    Hidden food gems? Food stops are on the outer edges of Trinidad. The H St Country Club is on the southern border along with Sticky Rice. So I feel like I’m left out if I don’t know about these hidden food gems.

  1. Tiffany said at 1:15 pm on Wednesday February 17, 2010:

    I just moved to Trinidad in January and have been pleasently surprised by how geneorus and frierndly my neighbors are. During the most recent snow storms my neighbors dug each other out and shoveled the porches of elderly residents. I have friends in the suburbs who complain that their neighbors just watch as they struggle to clear there driveways. While Trinidad is not right next to the metro, it is still a very walkable neighborhood. I satiated fits of cabin fever by walking three or four blocks to h street.
    And I have to agree with another commenter Trinidad feels more like a suburb to me than some of the other neighborhoods i was considering. Yes there is crime in the neighborhood, but I am very impressed with the amount of attention and resources the city contines to contribute to squash crime and violence. Trinidad is definitely better than its reputation!

  1. 10 years in Trinidad said at 1:22 pm on Wednesday February 17, 2010:

    I bought my house and I’ve had few problems. The one time someone tried to break in, it was due to a rash of break-ins due to a lot of construction. So they broke into homes w/permits in the windows to steal tools, and materials. I was home so they were not successful. Eventually, they caught the guy. I know most of my neighbors at least in passing, and my biggest complaint would be about parking. My home doesn’t have a garage or long backyard, even though I live on Morse. This is a good area as far as transportation. There are numerous buses to get you where you need to go (D3,D4, D8,& the X line). Plus, we are close to BWI Parkway via New York Ave, and 395 entrance as well. The starburst will not be making or breaking any neighborhood. Especially, since there isn’t really any real shopping at Hechinger plaza. I can walk to Safeway, or H Street, and I certainly am closer to New York Ave. metro. I’ve never found Eckington to be great for public transportation. I own a vehicle, and ride my bike frequently with my daughter who is in elementary school. She doesn’t go to a local school, but I’m glad they finally reopened the school on Neal. It was much needed, and are set to remodel the recreation center which is also in need. I think there are many neighborhoods in the District in transition for a long time. Take Columbia Heights, they have problems as well. I think far more than Trinidad, and they have all the urban amenities, and more serious crime. I like it, and my home and I plan to stay.

  1. Monty in Trinidad said at 1:51 pm on Wednesday February 17, 2010:

    I have lived in Trinidad since August 2001. I have had nothing happen to me or my property during the time I have lived here. Of course, there are ups and downs and times where I thought I lost my mind but I love my home. You just have to use commmon sense and be safe. You have to do that in all neighborhoods not just Trinidad. I have invested time and money into my house to make it a home and I do believe Trinidad will be coming back. As people are pushed financially out of Capitol Hill, they are finding out about Trinidad. We do have NY Ave Metro which is walkable. For people who work downtown, we have a direct bus that takes you through downtown DC all the way to Georgetown or Dupont Circle. On Montello Ave I have a garage (too small for a regular car but enough for a motorcycle or a doggie in my case), small patio and carport.

    I am sick and tired of people who dont live in Trinidad categorizing the residents of Trinidad as criminals or on welfare or as having no humanity. For the most part, we go to work, pay taxes and contribute to our community.

  1. Daniel Boone said at 4:49 pm on Wednesday February 17, 2010:

    I’ve lived in Trinidad for 2 years now and love it for many of the reasons described above. I am a two minute well lit walk from the heart of the H Street strip, I have ample off street parking, and a great back yard. The first summer I moved in was a bit crazy crime wise (although as one person on my block put it, “it is mostly drug dealers killing drug dealers”), but it has been noticeably quiet the last year and a half. If you look at the crime report in the Washington Post every week, most of the reported muggings are south of H Street around places like Maryland Ave in the areas that are supposedly safer than Trinidad. There has also been a noticeable increase in young professional types waiting for the X2 in the morning, so I think the word is out about Trinidad and the larger area.

  1. 1424 Orren St. NE said at 5:51 pm on Wednesday February 17, 2010:

    We’ve been here since 2007 and it’s a neighborhood that has definitely grown and matured since we arrived. We have excellent neighbors all around the “controversal area” and made ourselves interested in what happens here. To date, we have been openingly welcomed into the community and we’re pleased with our decision.

    The benefits of living in Trinidad are not noticeable by a casual drive into the area but to those that live here it’s common knowledge. There is a very active neighborhood association that wants nothing but the best for it’s residents and Police presence dedicated to making the area safe. However, Trinidad like the District is recovering from it’s terrible reputation of the late 80’s and early 90’s of a crime/gang infested/drug zone. My immediate long time neighbors have told me that some homes within a stones throw of us were clearly open crack homes. Pointing at the same location today one can only see a fully restored turn of the 20th century home. Trinidad is not without some weirdness, but to us, that is what makes the neighborhood cool.

    That said, the key with any DC neighborhood is getting to know your neighbors and being a great neighbor in return. This, ultimately, is what makes a neighborhood interesting. From our first day on our neighbors have been very open and friendly. We are very happy with our home decision which, at the time, was between purchasing East of the River, Brookland, or Trinidad. We knew about the H St. renovations and the Trolly but we really like the amount of home we got for the money.

    Thanks for the article!

  1. Trinidad Resident said at 9:41 pm on Wednesday February 17, 2010:

    The “war zone” comment above is bull. I’ve lived in Trinidad for over five years now, and not on the outskirts either.  The home inspector thought I was nuts when I bought.  But most of my neighbors are great and I’ve never been the victim of crime.  People die in war zones, yet Trinidad hasn’t seen a homicide that I know of for more than a year.
    It’s not really walkable to a metro, but during the big snowstorms, we could walk to the coffee shops and restaurants (which will continue to multiply over the next couple of years).  Look into it for yourself.  Prices are below 2004 levels right now I think.  You’ll be minutes by bike or car from Eastern Market, there are a couple of buses that go straight down town to get you to work, all for under 300K.

  1. ocho said at 12:36 am on Thursday February 18, 2010:

    I’ve been looking for a house for a few months now and after losing out on bids in petworth and columbia heights I said well let me at least see what Trinidad has to offer…I drove thru one day and what really struck me was thefact that you could see the vast potential of many of those streets if some TLC was applied.  I doubt I will buy in Trinidad, but I can def see 7 yrs from now kicking myself when it has matured some more.  Looking through crime reports though, it seemed as if a car was stolen every other week on the 1200 block of Owen & Oates…that seems high even in a high crime area…can any residents speak on this?

  1. Jade said at 11:06 am on Thursday February 18, 2010:

    We bought our home in the 1200 block of I Street, which is just south of Florida Avenue, back in July of 2007.  We LOVE everything about our neighborhood and the surrounding H Street corridor.

    From the first day we moved in, our neighbors opened their arms to us and made us feel at home.  We haven’t experienced any crime, and to be honest, I personally feel more safe here than I did in Adams Morgan or Georgetown.  There is a strong sense of community here.  I’ve come to love and cherish all my neighbors (every single one) who have called this place their home for many decades, and we visit each other from time to time to share stories and our favorite foods. 

    When my husband and I leave for vacations or work-related trips, I can count on my neighbors to watch our property, and they call us if they suspect anything.  I had my sister come by here one time to pick up our mail, and after seeing her struggling with the door (we need to get our door knob replaced) one of our elderly neighbors called the police.  Nobody here is afraid to pick up the phone and call the cops. 

    We, like most people in the area, bought our home that needed some TLC, and fixed it up to make it our own. After tallying up all the cost associated with the renovations, we learned that we saved ourselves a lot of money and increased the value tremendously - more than we could have if we owned a place just south of H Street.  We have plenty of space to park at least three cars in the back, and plenty of off-street parking during the weekdays. 

    My husband and I have never experienced this type of community before in DC.  When we are out walking our dog, strangers rarely pass by each other without saying hello.  Can the area use some improvement?  Without a doubt.  But if the only thing deterring the buyers from purchasing properties here is what they hear from those who don’t live here, they’re missing out big time.

  1. Anc6a said at 3:04 pm on Thursday February 18, 2010:

    If your south of Florida Ave. you’re not located in Trinidad. S. of Fla Ave is in Ward 6 and Anc6a. Cross over Fla. Ave you’re in Trinidad and Ward 5. There seems to be some confusion as to what are the boundries for Ward 5 and Trinidad.

  1. Michael said at 2:48 pm on Monday February 22, 2010:

    Does anyone have any comment on the Bladensburg road area North of Florida near the large shopping center? I have seen some properties popping up in that vicinity and was thinking of exploring that area.

  1. anon said at 4:37 pm on Thursday February 25, 2010:

    Explain why there were police roadblocks last summer there… seems like a war zone

  1. dcguy said at 6:59 pm on Wednesday April 28, 2010:

    some people seem to ask a lot about crime and how dangerous trinidad is. the comment above this asks about the road block and assures us that it is a warzone. if fools like that person that really don’t want to know continue to think the way they do, why does it matter?

    those who live there will continue to enjoy it. the smart will continue moving in. and lord knows the commercial areas along h are prospering and its only a short time before bladensburg gets more attention.

    it really no longer hurts our neighborhoods in dc when people talk in fear of crime.

  1. Sara'O said at 10:28 am on Monday May 24, 2010:

    Warning there is truth bending and even some straight up lieing going on here!

    Let’s start with the lies.  Poster: “DG Cromwell said at 12:50 pm” wrote about how the crime rate in Trinidad is the same basically as Clevland Park. He also claims how crime is actually less in anacostia and higher in Capital Hill.  Sound A*^backwards?  Well that’s because it’s not true!  He’s using huge Zip codes to do the comparison.  Trinidad’s Zipcode is the same as a large part of Capital Hill’s.  What you should use if the much smaller, targeted Police Service area (PSA) with MPD’s Crime mapping tool: http://crimemap.dc.gov/presentation/query.asp

    Here’s the “truth”
    Total Violent Crime, and % change over last 12 months
    PSA 501 (Trinidad, NE)
    1 year ago: 306     Now:348 % Change +14%

    PSA 102 (H street area, NE)
    1 year ago: 218     Now:193 % Change -11%

    PSA 204 (Clevand Park, NW)
    1 year ago: 53     Now:56 % Change +06%


    Of course “DG Cromwell” post sounded too good to be true, because it wasn’t true!


    Now, for the other posts above…with all the glowing reviews, I suspect the trinidad Civic Association urged all it’s memebers to post here about how great things are in Trinidad.  I’m sure it is not a “war Zone”, but this crap about how it’s fine for single women walking home at night is BS and irresponsble.

    Sure, lot’s of people have moved in and have not been a victim of crime. I live in columbia Hiegts and I’ve never had troube either over the last 8 years. But that’s not to say that there are still too many young men who are predators who roam many parts of DC looking for victims.  Often they end up attacking eachother, but they are open to robbing others too.

    Crime has dropped for years and continues to drop, but mainy because the most violent criminals are poor and as rent rises, they can’t afford it and leave.  Probably “white collar” crime will increase with more yuppies, but at least you’re not in fear for your life!

  1. dcguy said at 12:09 pm on Friday May 28, 2010:

    Sara o,
    you unfairly misrepresented what dg cromwell said.
    he did not “lie” and he cited his sources and their means of computing the %‘s. and he even acknowledges its faults.
    the take-away on it though is that the perception of crime is greater than the actuality. Trinidad is not safe, by national standards, or even by dc standards, but its safer than most people who don’t live there think it is.
    and its why you can get a good deal on a house.

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