UrbanTurf Reader Asks: Is the H Street Corridor Worth It?

by Mark Wellborn


In this installment of UrbanTurf Reader Asks, a reader who is having trouble pulling the trigger on buying a home in the H Street Corridor wants reassurance that he will be making the right decision if he does.

“For months, I have been looking at homes on the market in one section of DC: the revamped H Street area. I go out to the bars and restaurants there fairly frequently, go to shows from time to time at Rock & Roll Hotel and find it pretty convenient to other parts of the city. Also, the housing stock is a lot like that in Capitol Hill, only cheaper. However, I can’t seem to get over the fact that outside the five or six block stretch that has been revamped, not very much has changed along H Street. Combine that with the crime that still exists in the area, and I wonder if I will see a return on my investment even ten years from now?”

Post your thoughts in the comments section. If you would like to submit a question for UrbanTurf Reader Asks, send an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/urbanturf_reader_asks_is_the_h_street_corridor_worth_it/1268


  1. matt said at 11:25 am on Tuesday September 1, 2009:

    I bought in this neighborhood about six months ago, and have absolutely no regrets. With the coming streetcar, the area is only going to get better. Buy, you won’t regret it.

  1. mehmeh said at 11:33 am on Tuesday September 1, 2009:

    how many years will it take for that area to start looking like U street did 5 years ago? I’d say five years..so ten years is about the right time for a solid investment..however who knows..I still think the area is a bit overpriced..the talk of the streetcars has made everyone up their prices..however, the plans aren’t finalized about where, when and what the street car will do…

  1. E said at 12:14 pm on Tuesday September 1, 2009:

    I lived on H Street NE for the past year, only leaving because of a great opportunity to buy in VA.  Most people will scoff at the fact that you live in the NE, but to be honest, it was a great time. There is a decent amount of public transportation, you’re close to two great bar/nightlife scenes (H Street and Capitol Hill), and businesses are starting to pop up.  There’s a great yoga studio and coffee shopping at 4th, and the City Vista Safeway has free parking with a purchase.  I would definitely recommend the area!

  1. Kenny G said at 12:27 pm on Tuesday September 1, 2009:

    My wife and I bought a house on the corridor 10 years ago.  We have a 6 year old who knows H Street better than most hipsters who now frequent the street.  We love it here and do not see moving any time in the next 10 years.  The neighborhood has its issues, to be sure, but the area continues to grow and develop in many positive ways.

  1. Tom A. said at 12:59 pm on Tuesday September 1, 2009:

    I’ve owned in the neighborhood for 2 years, and LOVE it, but need to sell my house for family reasons.  (Ailing mother in law.) 

    I love that I could get an inexpensive house with a yard for my dog and all the local ammenities that H street has to offer.  And I don’t know why the previous poster was discussing the new Safeway at City Vista, but the one at Heckinger Mall is just fine, and yuo can park there as long as you want! 

    If you’ve looked at houses in the neighborhood, you’ve probably looked at my small house, but email me directly (taloisi at msn) and we can talk about deals, since I’m paying for a house I’m not living in. 

    The only complaints I have about the neighborhood is the 1% of people who insist on throwing their garbage on the street and in the tree boxes, and the 25 minute walk to Union Station. 

    In 10 years, I’m sure you’ll be happy you bought in the neighborhood.  And depending on how my life changes in the next few years, I’ll probably be back!

  1. PT said at 1:22 pm on Tuesday September 1, 2009:

    This is undoubtedly the best area to invest around.  In five years, H St beautificaion will be complete and the street cars will be up and running.  A new condo building with mixed use and ground level retail will run from 8th to 10th Street.  Probably another 15-20 restaurants, bars, new establishments will have opened.  And your property value will have increased significantly.  We just bought south of H recently.  While I might not have been comfortable going much farther to the North as yet, this area is already good and is just going to keep getting better once they finish all that construction that makes H look messy right now.  If you like Capitol Hill, but aren’t ubber rich, this is the only way to get in.  So do it now and reap the benefits while you still can.

  1. Sustainable City said at 1:34 pm on Tuesday September 1, 2009:

    I bought a building (4-unit) 6 years ago the rental income has climbed and I have never had a problem finding tenants.  I live in one of my units and really like my neighborhood.  I am currently on the market to buy a row house in the same neighborhood, primarily the Rosedale area (Between 15 and 25th, and Benning and C streets).  While a lot of the housing stock in this area needs rehab, the prices are much lower than other parts of the H street NE area, and closer to the metro!  I feel that this will be the best long term investment for me and my growing family and the lower prices will give me more money to spend on the great new establishments opening up on H street itself.

  1. AS said at 1:52 pm on Tuesday September 1, 2009:

    As a first-time, new to the area buyer, the comments are very helpful. Thanks.

    I’m looking to buy in the area—near 3rd and k NE—and I wonder how people feel this area stacks up in terms of quality of life and investment potential to U street, SW waterfront, Shaw, and even smaller properties downtown and/or in Dupont.

    All thoughts much appreciated.

  1. TM said at 1:52 pm on Tuesday September 1, 2009:

    A point to note that unlike U street which is only a 6 block stretch (11-16th), H-street corridor is 14 block long as a result the development is going to take longer however, once it’s complete it will beat all other areas of DC. Note that Adams Morgan is only 3 blocks (between Columbia-Florida)

  1. Z said at 1:55 pm on Tuesday September 1, 2009:

    Bought in the area 5 years ago, and like the other commenters, have no regrets.

    You claim that one of you concerns is that “crime still exists”. Not to burst you bubble, but guess what, either get the hell out of the city, or learn to deal with it. It’s fact of life on the edge neighborhoods, but really, it’s not as bad as your suburban upbringing would lead you to believe. Yes, my house has been broken into 2 times, and my garage 6 times (in a span of 2 months). But I’ve seen more violent crimes when I lived near Eastern Market than I have in all my time on H. And usually a lot of it is highly localized (in my case, a group of foster kids known to everyone in the neighborhood simply as “the bad kids”).

    Crime comes and goes, but it’s definitely on the decline in the area. Since I’ve moved to the west end of H, most of the change has happened in the past 12 months. The neighborhoods are changing very fast now, and blocks that even I was wary of when I first moved here, are no longer threatening. Recently on one of these blocks, I saw a bunch of popped collar douchebags drinking Miller Lite and playing cornhole on the sidewalk in front their house, very much to the amusement of the rest of the block who were on their porches watching them.

    Also, you have to remember that like U ST, H ST was witness to the worst rioting in ‘68. Go visit the center of the DC crack epidemic on Orleans Place, where I’ve heard from locals, the lines for crack used to stretch around the block. Don’t think that a bunch of young white people can immediately change the fact that the neighborhood has been kicked around for a long time. It only now is showing signs of recovery, but that road is not all shiny and perfectly mapped out yet. There will still be crime, nasty garbage men, delinquent property owners, crazy half-way houses and Krown Fried Chickens for quite some time, but quite frankly that is more than made up for by the improvements by the city, the great people (both new and old), the great venues, and fact that you get to be a part of the neighborhood before it’s got a stick so far up its ass about liquor stores, drunk frat boys and noise complaints that it’s no longer fun.

    Don’t dally though, at least in my neighborhood, properties are going quick. Stuff is reasonably priced and sellers are motivated.

  1. Cliff said at 2:34 pm on Tuesday September 1, 2009:

    3RD and K is probably a prime location. Look at the housing and mixed use building being constructed across the street. It’s a short walk to either the NY AVE metro station or Union Station. In terms of investment potential, I would think that you have greater potential for price appreciation here than U ST, Downtown, or Shaw. SW waterfront development is behind H ST for sure.

  1. Z said at 2:45 pm on Tuesday September 1, 2009:

    The only problem with 3rd and H are all the tranny hookers. Best part was DC MPD declaring a couple of blocks from K to H, 2nd to 4th, last summer as an “official prostitution free zone”. Thanks MPD! I didn’t know it was legal everywhere else in the city! And great job enforcing that! It’s not like they weren’t using the mattress in the K ST underpass at all hours of the day.

    But no worries, once the dorm at 3rd and K is finished, the drunk interns being dumped out of congressional limos and their nauseating smell of vomit, finger sandwiches and old man cologne is sure to keep the hookers away.

  1. Richard Layman said at 2:46 pm on Tuesday September 1, 2009:

    The funny thing is how short people’s perspectives are.  When I bought in the H Street neighborhood in the late 1980s, houses were under $95,000. (I don’t live there now.) So you can see, even after a real estate recession from 1989 to 1999, the fact that the area is well-located—close to Downtown, Capitol Hill, and full of transportation assets (Union station for subway and railroad service, close to National Airport, close to NY Ave. and I-395 for travel north and south), and full of attractive historic building stock, people would be fools to not buy.

    Unless of course there is a terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol or Union Station.  And if you don’t like attached housing.  And if you are planning on having children and want to educate them in the public schools.  (Although charters are an option.)

    The thing is in part, the writer has the way it works backwards.  Retail revitalization always lags residential revitalization.

    The big mistake is to equate “neighborhood improvement” with improvement in the retail district, without evaluating separately the nature of the residential real estate market.

    There are many reasons for this, and there are thousands of entries on my own blog about why this is so.

    In any case, if you look at the residential real estate market, being able to buy close in for that amount of money is key. 

    It will take a long time yet for the retail district to improve.  But imagine it back in 1987…

  1. Hill Rat said at 2:48 pm on Tuesday September 1, 2009:

    My family and I live in a condo a few blocks south of H St. and we love it.  We need to get a bigger place in the next couple of years and we’ll probably just go a few blocks north of where we are now which is where you’re looking.

  1. ML said at 3:04 pm on Tuesday September 1, 2009:

    They key to a house being an investment is purchasing before the neighborhood changes too much.

    My wife and I have lived in Shaw for the last 2 years. Once they closed Kelsey Gardens, the neighborhood rapidly changed and became unaffordable. If you had bought 2 years ago in Shaw you would have had a great investment. Now the prices have already increased as far as they are going to go anytime soon. Shaw’s rapid gentrification is due to the overflow from the logan circle / p & 14th area, and will continue to increase in value but at a slower rate than the last 2 years. U street on the other hand is much further along in the process and way way over priced. You might not loose money but you wont make much either. U street has already matured and doesn’t have much room to change or grow.

    H street feels like is entering a similar rapid period of change as Shaw did 2 years ago. Even if the trolley is delayed past 2011, the Harris Teeter is still on track for 2010. That will change H street in a similar way to the Whole foods on P, or the Safeway on K did for Shaw. It will push gentrification out further east. Couple the harris teeter with the large amount of development in NOMA, and you will see an influx of people east of NOMA looking for homes near their offices / metro.

    My wife and I looked at over 60 homes all over DC, from Petworth, to Potomac, to Ledroit, Truxton, Bloomingdale and more. We decided on H street because we firmly believe it will change and soon, like within 3-5 years, not 5-10 years. The # of new bars and restaurants going into H street in the last 2 years is easily 2x those on U street in the same time, and the process is only accelerating.

  1. Not On Parker said at 3:20 pm on Tuesday September 1, 2009:

    Let me address the concerns that arose when I considered moving to the area.

    Violent Crime - violent crime trends for most of the District of Columbia are not sufficient enough to perform any sort of meaningful analysis. Even if deemed quantitatively sufficient, the trends are never sufficiently qualified. The trends simply aren’t granular enough to isolate +truly+ systemic criminal risk.

    Property Crime - property crime trends for most of the District of Columbia are equal to or sometimes in excess of those in Near Northeast. Theft from auto, theft of auto, theft of bicycle, etc. are District-wide problems. Near Northeast doesn’t seem to have the graffiti problem typical of Shaw or U Street.

    Return on Investment - finding a 2BR/2BA rowhouse within the Federal City boundaries that is walkable (three-block walkable, not ten-block walkable) to a red line Metro station for less than $500K is very, very difficult. Exceptions: tax sales, shells, estates, and Near Northeast. The Near Northeast “stigma” will soon be eradicated…as will the great deals on housing.

    Amenities - Near Northeast has restaurants, bars, cafés, dry cleaners, drug stores, and music venues. Comingled with liquor stores, chicken joints, wig shops, nail salons, barber shops, clothing stores, and junk shops. Vacant properties are slowly but surely being renovated, with leasing signs put up in their windows. New businesses are coming every other month.

    Garbage - this is the worst part of living in the area, though comparable to places like Logan Circle, Mount Pleasant, Shaw, etc. Solid waste is poorly managed in Washington DC, by homeowners, property managers, collectors, enforcement personnel, etc.

    People - Near Northeast has a well-rounded composite of denizens that spans all socio-economic levels, living situations, religions, etc. I moved to the area for precisely this reason, as I did not want my neighborhood overrun by people that looked the same (think: Clarendon, Logan).

  1. not on parker said at 3:27 pm on Tuesday September 1, 2009:

    “I’m looking to buy in the area—near 3rd and k NE—and I wonder how people feel this area stacks up in terms of quality of life and investment potential to U street, SW waterfront, Shaw, and even smaller properties downtown and/or in Dupont.”

    3rd Street NE and K Street NE is a great area. Excellent proximity to two Metro stations. Has its own Yahoo! group for social events, dog watching, joint city service requests, etc. Walkable to all of Near Northeast’s major attractions in addition to those down K Street NW. Will only get better with the opening of Loree Grand and the Washington Center housing.

  1. anonymous said at 3:41 pm on Tuesday September 1, 2009:

    “I can’t seem to get over the fact that outside the five or six block stretch that has been revamped, not very much has changed along H Street”.

    Oh yes it has. There might not be brand new buildings in place, but there’s a shitload less trash, fewer vagrants, liquor stores that can’t sell singles, and lots of renovated buildings ready to go…

  1. A said at 4:13 pm on Tuesday September 1, 2009:

    Seems like all the comments have been positive. Any detractors—maybe folks who bought/live in other areas or who live in NE and are not thrilled?

  1. not on parker said at 4:38 pm on Tuesday September 1, 2009:

    Things you have to deal with whilst living in the District of Columbia but more so in “pre-transitional” or “transitional” neighborhoods:

    Vagrants, degenerates, and other weirdos - an array of people with mental problems, substance problems, etc. that roam aimlessly, talk to themselves, panhandle, steal, urinate publicly, rifle through garbage, collect random things, hide in bushes, sleep in alleys, etc. People that stand around without a fucking thing to do…nowhere to go…nowhere to be…just there.

    Trash - shit everywhere. Car parts, wrappers, cups, plates, hair, dead animals, chicken bones, rusty pieces of old houses, crumbled curbs, brick pieces, DDoT cones, uncollected leaves, condoms, clothing, etc.

    Noise - lots of people on front porches that “talk” (I use the term loosely) through all hours of the night. People that blow their horns to no end rather than go to the front door of the person they are picking up. People that sound like they are yelling but really talking. Construction trucks, cranes, and other equipment. Sirens all night long.

    Disorder and Neglect - Street signs are bent and dented, sometimes even outdated (there hasn’t been a school near my house in decades). most grass is crab grass combined with weeds. dirt is compacted to the point that nothing can grow. attempts at planting flowers are thwarted by people who stomp them while exiting their vehicles. police that only care about violent crimes.

    Anger and intolerance - people disenchanted with the system. people disenchanted with white people. people angry at gay people. people angry at interracial couples. people angry at interracial gay couples. this type of shit typically goes unsaid in the suburbs or nicer neighborhoods…i

    Trash - did I mention trash?

  1. JT said at 4:39 pm on Tuesday September 1, 2009:

    No detractors. H street & all of Near North East are only improving. Is it still transitional? Yes. Does it cost as much as Shaw or Dupont? No. Go for it.

  1. david mazza said at 7:39 pm on Tuesday September 1, 2009:

    I own a building on H St NE and live in one of the units and own a Deli on the first floor. Taylor Gourmet. I also own/lived in my house in columbia heights. I prefer NE H St over my NW house just has more depth and a great sence of community over in NE additionally DC has sunk a TON of money in redeveloping of H st’s street scape which will increase home value. If you asked me I’m also a real estate broker in DC my next play is to buy north of H ST but south of flordia ave something with parking on a one way street it.

  1. K said at 10:20 pm on Tuesday September 1, 2009:

    I agree with EVERYTHING that “not on parker” said.

  1. Kevin said at 11:13 pm on Tuesday September 1, 2009:

    I believe buying in NE is a great decision.  I recently bought in Rosedale in June and don’t regret it for a second.  Since last Fall, I was looking for a 3 BR / 2BA row-house in the triangle located East of 6th, North of H, and South of Florida Ave.  I’m sure I looked at EVERY house which went up in that area.  I saw lots of houses which needed a LOT of work, and some beautifully renovated houses.  Unfortunately, once a house was nicely renovated it was completely out of my price range ~350K.  I eventually found a great place in Rosedale:  completely renovated 2 BR / 2.5BA, with another 1 BR/1BA garden basement below it for ~$400K.  After rent from my tenants, my mortgage/tax/insurance payment is only ~$850/mo, which is what I was paying for Rent on Capitol Hill.  I strongly recommend a renovated 3 BR house in Rosedale.  Check out 21 St. South of Benning - really beautiful tree lined Street.  Most of my neighbours have lived here for 20 years, and they’ve welcomed me into their little community. 

    I will say that I miss the convenience of being able to quickly walk to dozens of local places (I used to live in Eastern Market), but I did most of my hanging out on H St. anyway.  Now, instead of driving 10 minutes, I drive less than 5.  Yes, I drive - the fact of the matter is that the neighbourhood is still not very safe.  If you want ‘safe’, go to Eastern Market and pay $800K for the same house you’ll find here for $350-$400K!


  1. KS said at 11:22 pm on Tuesday September 1, 2009:

    I live about a 10 minute walk from H in ‘Capitol Hill’.  There are no more weirdos around H than on my block! I love H St and wish that I’d known more about the area before moving. I think that property there will be money well spent!

  1. A said at 11:49 pm on Tuesday September 1, 2009:

    “Not on Parker”—-around where do you live? and what’s the significance of your name?

  1. KS said at 1:03 am on Wednesday September 2, 2009:

    I bought in the 4th/L area 6 months ago and absolutely love it.  I’m close to a metro, close to busses, I have a backyard with a lawn and if I choose to use it, a parking spot as well.

    For less than $500K, you can have a renovated home, with all of the plusses, and only a few minuses that you would have in other areas of DC.  U Street is still dangerous, more dangerous than H.  In this neighborhood, I have met friendly neighbors who have block parties and look out for each other’s homes.

    There are people that you wouldn’t want to talk to walking around, the solution is, don’t talk to them.  You don’t bother them, they don’t bother you.  As the area continues to improve I guarantee that you’ll see less and less of them.

  1. dood said at 8:04 am on Wednesday September 2, 2009:

    You *might* possibly be mugged sometime in the next 10 years for $38 in your wallet, during which time you will have made at least 400k on your little row house with English basement, back yard and parking because other people unbelievably still did not have the balls to buy in 2009 even with all the obvious positive signs.

    People with far bigger balls than you bought in 1999 and have already seen returns of 500%  (beyond what anyone will ever see in the District again).

    But forget the money for a minute. I live North of H-Street, could afford to live somewhere else, but never would. Love it here.

    I lived on U-street in 1995. H-street is far ahead of where U-street was back then and ultimately will offer a great deal more than a few trendy 20-something wine bars and overpriced “minimalist” condos.

  1. not on parker said at 10:04 am on Wednesday September 2, 2009:

    ““Not on Parker”—-around where do you live? and what’s the significance of your name?”

    I live in the vicinity of Parker Street NE…but not on Parker Street NE itself. Pretty fucking clever, aye?

  1. not on parker said at 10:24 am on Wednesday September 2, 2009:

    “People with far bigger balls than you bought in 1999 and have already seen returns of 500%  (beyond what anyone will ever see in the District again).”

    People that are purchasing in places like Marshall Heights or Lincoln Heights are going to see returns well in excess of 500%. If I had any sense, I would buy west-facing properties in River Terrace…

  1. not on parker said at 10:28 am on Wednesday September 2, 2009:

    “People with far bigger balls than you bought in 1999 and have already seen returns of 500%  (beyond what anyone will ever see in the District again).”

    People with far bigger balls also bought in 1999 and are yet to see returns, period.

  1. gogo1961 said at 11:41 am on Wednesday September 2, 2009:

    I love not on parker’s take on living in a transitional neighborhood in the district, especially the part about people yelling when they are really talking.  Unfortunately, I live in the same building with such a person.  It’s good to know that at least H Street has become or will be a good investment.  I purchased in the NE area called Brentwood and at least once a month, I think about running back to Montgomery County. Although most of the people are nice, it’s a struggle. But a little voice in my head says stay where you are because it will pay off one day.  I guess I just need to be comforted that I’ve made the right decision.

  1. Georgetowner said at 12:01 pm on Wednesday September 2, 2009:

    “You *might* possibly be mugged sometime in the next 10 years for $38 in your wallet, during which time you will have made at least 400k on your little row house with English basement, back yard and parking because other people unbelievably still did not have the balls to buy in 2009 even with all the obvious positive signs.”

    yeah, I dunno. as a single female. yeah maybe I wouldn’t mind being mugged for $38 for a potential large gain in home equity later on.  But I would be scared shitless about getting raped at a place like H St.

    I know that this place is quickly gentrifying.  I actually love Taylor Gourmet and Rock and Roll Hotel.  Taylor Gourmet has the best hoagies I’ve ever had in DC btw…

    but anyway, I would be scared.  that said, if the place I’m looking at has a garage and I can drive straight into the garage and not have to worry about parking far away from my house late at night, I might do it.

    But I’ll only do it if the block’s really beautiful to begin with.  You know, like Logan Circle with the beautiful Victorians.  I’ve driven around H St a few times and don’t remember thinking, “Wow these houses could be so beautiful if they were just spruced up.”

  1. not on parker said at 12:13 pm on Wednesday September 2, 2009:

    “But I’ll only do it if the block’s really beautiful to begin with.  You know, like Logan Circle with the beautiful Victorians.  I’ve driven around H St a few times and don’t remember thinking, ‘Wow these houses could be so beautiful if they were just spruced up.’”

    Near Northeast would be tremendously beautiful if the street rubbish was gone, vacant houses were occupied, and if homeowners tidied a bit. It would resemble many of the admired sections of Capitol Hill. Comparing the housing stock to that of Logan Circle is unreasonable, as the neighborhoods have had two uniquely different histories.

  1. Jordan said at 12:17 pm on Wednesday September 2, 2009:

    I had researched the DC real estate market since I moved to the district in 2005. I looked at SW Waterfront (even before they had broken ground on the Stadium), I looked at Columbia Heights years before DC USA was built and I also checked out U St but by then it had already been fairly saturated.
    I bought a place here on H Street near the Starburst Intersection about 16 months ago. This area not only has so much HUGE potential but it already is a great place to live. The most obvious difference between U St and H St is that the DC and Federal govt didnt drop over $30M into U St and look what happened there. H Street will be a completely different corridor within 3 years (and yes, I realize people have been saying that for a long time).  Within the short 16 months I have lived here, I have seen BIG changes. From the number of open storefronts, to the great new restaurants, to the laying of the street car tracks and the renovation and sale of tons of old dilapidated row houses. (The average home price around the corridor in 2002 was $182k. Now the average is over $430k. Thats 142% increase in 7 years).
    I think the following document is the best that the DC government has put out summarizing all the changes to come to H Street:


    Add to that the list of restaurants and bars that are slated to open within 3-12 months and I think that real striking development will be more imminent than some would think.

  1. 18thNE said at 12:21 pm on Wednesday September 2, 2009:

    My wife and I bought a 3br 3bth row house three years ago right on the border of Rosedale and Kingman Park (east of 15th NE and south of Benning), about a 7 minute walk to the metro or to H Street. We like the neighborhood a lot. There’s a ton of long time residents, and the folks moving here are generally looking to establish roots and be a part of a community. You see a lot of teachers, cops and non-profit types moving here.  Whereas a lot of people in other parts of DC won’t say hello to you when you pass by, and are counting the days till they move away, folks around here are mostly very friendly, welcoming and in it for the long term. We help run a community garden in the neighborhood and its amazing how many people are contacting us looking to get involved.

    With that said, we definitely hope to see stores, retail, and restaurants come to the neighborhood.  The stuff happening on H Street seems very promising. 

    Regarding the issue of crime, here’s the dynamic in our neighborhood.  Rosedale/Kingman Park was built in the 30s as a working class African American community.  Other than the “young professionals” moving to the neighborhood, everyone else has been there forever.  You’ve got a lot of people that still keep their house and streets clean and generally take pride in the neighborhood.  BUT, you’ve got a whole younger generation of kids who mostly live with their grandparents or extended families, and who don’t have employment options beyond Checkers or drug dealing, who hang out on the corners and throw their trash on the ground.  I don’t worry about getting robbed by anyone, mostly because I know all these kids and their parents or grandparents (at least by sight).  I actually think the neighborhood is safer than Columbia Heights or Shaw when it comes to muggings or violent crime.  There is crew-related violence.  It’s almost always targeted and not random.  It sounds bad to say it, but generally the biggest problem in the neighborhood is the trash. I can’t even count how many times I’ve had to pick chicken bones out of my dog’s mouth. Or clean up liquor bottles, cans and refuse in front of my house. 

    But all that stuff will change as people buy up homes and once again take pride in what is really a great neighborhood.

  1. Kramer St NE said at 12:44 pm on Wednesday September 2, 2009:

    I’m so excited to see all of this positive talk about my neighborhood.  I’m a SWF, and bought on Kramer St (2 blocks south of Benning btwn 16 and 17) 4 years ago.  I was the only white person on the block for a solid 18 months. 

    Nothing has happened to me (or my car or my house) and I know my neighbors, at least the ones within a few houses of me.  They are very friendly and chatty and they definitely know whats going on with the neighborhood - they are the eyes and ears of the street, far more than any of the many list serves I am on.

    Yeah, there is tons of trash and people hanging around outside on their stoops/porches.  If that bothers you then this isn’t the place for you.  If you can deal with the trash and litter (bc it is ALL OVER the place) and can wait a few more years, I think it is worth your while.

    I bought my house a month before the Argo opened and have seen nothing but improvements along H St.  Is it happening over night? No.  Are places hamstrung for various (city permits, $$, etc) reasons?  Yes, of course.

    You have to be smart (anywhere in the city) when you are walking around. White ear buds - that screams Ipod.  Talking on the phone when walking - also a no no.  Use some common sense and it will go a long way.

    Good luck with your search.

  1. A said at 10:11 pm on Wednesday September 2, 2009:

    “not on parker”—-it is clever, but what is the significance of parker (ie. why or what is that a reference to)?

  1. New in town said at 12:33 am on Thursday September 3, 2009:

    I’m moving to DC after 10 years abroad and need to be near Union Station (partner commuting to Baltimore) and spent the last 2 weekends combing the neighborhood…and found not much on the market! Advice I’ve been getting is that things do slow down over the summer and should pick up in the next few months, would you all agree? 

    The other major bit of advice - as someone else mentioned here - is get something with a garage so that you can drive right in…we are two women so it sounded like sound advice to me - would you agree?  That said, anyone have any info re the condos that are being put up at 3rd and K? Any idea when they might be finished?

  1. dood said at 1:28 am on Thursday September 3, 2009:


    Respectfully, can you examine why exactly you would be “scared shitless” about getting raped on H street but not elsewhere? Say Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan, Rock Creek—all places where women have been abducted and killed. Is there some evidence you can site of a particularly bad rape problem on H-Street or might you be making assumptions? Have you seen the DC crime map?:


    Total crimes within 1500 feet of:
    -8th St. and H NE = 488
    -Wisconsin and M Street NW = 568
    -18th and Colombia NW = 531 (Sex abuse up 100%)
    -14th and Columbia Rd NW = 825!!

    Traffic density is lower on H, but crime in the area has been trending WAY down for years now, and is in any case clearly not magnitudes worse than other popular urban DC destinations. The fact is that rape by random stranger is very, very rare (although unfortunately does happen on occasion everywhere). You remain alert and take precautions to keep yourself safe like you do anywhere.

    “yeah, I dunno. as a single female. yeah maybe I wouldn’t mind being mugged for $38 for a potential large gain in home equity later on.  But I would be scared shitless about getting raped at a place like H St.”

    At the end of the day, if you don’t find the area attractive, and you are not comfortable with the idea even after the vast majority of real live people in the area tell you they love it, then just be honest with yourself and skip “places like H.”

  1. ibc said at 11:04 am on Thursday September 3, 2009:

    Respectfully, can you examine why exactly you would be “scared shitless” about getting raped on H street but not elsewhere

    To paraphrase David Cross, “It’s a bit darker over on H Street; the nice thing about NW is that it stays white…I mean “light” out a bit longer…”

  1. Ignacio said at 11:10 am on Thursday September 3, 2009:

    The crime figures Z is giving are just mindboggling. People, when will you realize that these levels of crime are not simply the price you pay for “living in the city”? I’m from Chicago, not the world’s safest city by any measure, and the crime in DC is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Yet you guys keep acting like it’s cool to get robbed all the time and that anyone who thinks otherwise is a sheltered, dumbass suburbanite.

    Z - I didn’t have a “suburban upbringing,” and I don’t appreciate being told to “get the hell out of the city” if I don’t want to be broken into all the time. But keep apologizing for the crime all you want.

    Two years in DC is enough, and I’m moving back to Chicago, where people actually think crime is a bad thing and the city administration is decent enough to at least try do something about it.

  1. Ignacio said at 11:16 am on Thursday September 3, 2009:

    Wow, I hadn’t seen ibc’s comment until now. What a f**king obnoxious thing to say. So a woman who’s worried about being raped is a racist? F**K YOU. I’m a guy, and I recognize fully that there are damned good reasons for women to be worried for their safety, in ways that men simply do not have to be.

    And, yes, I would think the risk of rape is far lower in a gentrified part of NW, where there’s lots of street activity and lower crime rates in general (plus lots of gay men), than in a transitional, semi-ghetto area like H St.

    Really, you’ve just shown yourself to be a complete a**hole. A woman makes a comment about how she’s trying to evaluate her personal safety, and you come out with a douchey comment about how she must be a racist. Perhaps you should examine why you have such a deep-seated emotional need to pretend your neighborhood’s serious crime problem doesn’t really exist, all evidence to the contrary…

  1. Will Smith said at 11:56 am on Thursday September 3, 2009:

    Hi folks,

    This has been an extremely popular post, and it’s been great to hear from H Street residents about their experiences. But the comments are trending in a negative and counterproductive direction. So, to future posters: before you add a comment please take a moment to consider whether it directly pertains to the writer’s question about H Street.

    Let’s keep it civil everyone.


  1. Tom A. said at 12:26 pm on Thursday September 3, 2009:

    New in town:  Congrats on moving to the area! I thought u were crazy to say there was nothing for sale near union station, but at the moment there are zero homes for sale in the triangle between H street/ Maryland Ave and the Capitol!? 

    I saw a lot of places in the 700-900k range moving fast over the summer along F street NE.  Inventory should pick up next week though.

  1. ibc said at 3:42 pm on Thursday September 3, 2009:

    And, yes, I would think the risk of rape is far lower in a gentrified part of NW, where there’s lots of street activity and lower crime rates in general (plus lots of gay men), than in a transitional, semi-ghetto area like H St.

    And, yes—as was pointed out a mere two comments upthread—you’d be wrong…

  1. paul said at 3:45 pm on Thursday September 3, 2009:

    better ask for a bullet-proof vest at closing. It’s absurd to even consider buying in this neighborhood! Save your money and move to NW DC. I lived on H St for 2 years beginning in 2004. Sure people will tell you it’s fine, but don’t believe it.

  1. Ward 6 Resident said at 7:46 pm on Thursday September 3, 2009:

    If your reason for purchasing in the H ST NE area is primarily for investment reasons, selling and turning a profit in 2/3 years, then I suggest looking elsewhere for your investment opportunities.  The last real estate down turn in the late 1980’s took about 10 years for a recovery to begin in certain SE Ward 6 neighborhoods.  People who bought for a quick profit, either sold for a loss or a small gain, or stayed, or became absentee landlords.

    If your objective is to become a long term homeowner with a stake in the community and you have a 10 year plus horizon, then the H St. NE area may be what you are looking for. 

    It all depends on what your long term obectives are.

  1. Tarvaris said at 9:43 am on Friday September 4, 2009:

    I have lived in the H St corridor for over 2 years now and have seen incredible changes.  The riff raff that dominated the area has diminished astronomically.  Yes, there is still the occasional shady figure, but there is not a neighborhood in this city you can avoid that. 

    It has been slow in its occupation, but the Senate Square has become a bright shiny beacon of success.  The new additional buildings at 3rd and K St, which are touching the sky more and more daily, will certainly add a young, excited population to the H St neighborhood.  I love it here, and I don’t think there is another area I would choose to live within the District…oh, and by the way, I’m on the “scary” northside of H St. 

    Also, the work of the city to take down vacant properties is going to have an immediate impact on our home values.  I almost feel bad for those younger folks looking to buy a home in the area - their opportunities for affordability are slipping away.

  1. Robert Foster said at 3:58 pm on Friday September 4, 2009:

    I’ve lived near Third and H Street, NE for 20 years as of this month.  In 1990, someone came into my house through a door that was left open and took a VCR.  In 1992, someone took two small rosebushes out of my front yard.  For the last 17 years, I have not experienced any crimes (unless you consider littering, public urination or making noise at night to be crimes). The neighborhood is WAY better than it was 20 years ago, in so many ways it would be hard to list them all.  The major streetscape improvements that are underway on H Street will really have a positive impact on the look and feel of the whole H Street corridor.

  1. soul searcher said at 12:35 am on Tuesday September 8, 2009:

    i have lived north of h for six years now (seven come next january)

    let me run through a few quick plusses in the area that may not have been discussed:

    - there are a lot of parks in walking distance (12th & Maryland, i believe a very small one at 10th & Maryland, and a large one at 6th & Maryland)

    - the sherwood recreational center has an outdoor circular track, indoor basketball, and a small gym (at 10th and G)

    - there are lots of young children and generally speaking most people are very friendly, particularly long-time residents

    - a lot of vacant properties have been fixed up and put on the market since i moved here in 2003. also, the noise level and litter level on my block has dropped markedly (the noise more than the litter, but both are improving)

    - tommy wells is the best public servant i’ve ever had represent me. very responsive to emails regarding neighborhood concerns.

    i can’t think of too many other points.

    oh, the drug dealing is down sharply as well, although i was recently informed that a great deal of the traffic now occurs in the wee hours of the night…as long as it’s out of sight and not creating a disturbance, i suppose that’s an improvement (in 2003, drugs were sold openly on my block at all hours…most of the dealers i recognized by sight are now gone, except one who i recently saw last week)

  1. soul searcher said at 12:39 am on Tuesday September 8, 2009:

    oh, and it may seem a bit hippie-ish of me, but I very much dig how people of so many different backgrounds interact freely here…particularly seeing a diverse range of children play together in the area parks or on the sidewalk during the weekend, riding bikes and such.

    there have been some crimes of opportunity (house break-ins where windows were left open, primarily), but the proper amount of caution and security doors/bars should protect you from all of that.

  1. I think said at 10:16 am on Tuesday September 8, 2009:

    My take on this is that if you can find a sub- 300k house that needs little to no work it’s probably a good option. That’s if you buy south of Florida Avenue and not too close to Benning Road. Anything close to Union Station or on the “Capitol Hill” side of H Street. Anyway, don’t count your trolley chickens before they hatch. Who knows when that project will truly come to fruition.

    I grew up on Capitol Hill and recently bought a house in SE near 8th Street. Personally, if you’re looking to invest buy in SE rather than NE if you can. The location is better and there are still a few deals on rehabs near 12th Street Etc. I’m sure there are more spacious, cheaper options in NE, but stick to the three L’s of real estate…Additionally, renting to staffers is easier if you so choose. Anyway, don’t buy an overpriced condo. Buy a house.

    Regardless of where you invest in the District, be it SE or NE, we are so much better insulated from recessionary impacts and downward pressure on prices than those suburban f*cks in Manassas, that any property you buy may see some short term losses on appreciation, but longterm may double or triple in value.

  1. gina said at 5:11 pm on Tuesday September 8, 2009:

    Speaking as someone who had only been around H street about 6 months ago:  Do y’all think that the pace of growth is going to slow down because of the housing crisis, or do you think it’s just a bump in the road?

  1. soul searcher said at 10:08 pm on Tuesday September 8, 2009:


    i think the slowdown was the housing crisis. construction on several projects seemed to halt (perhaps financing dried up?) and several retail project seemed to have stalled (rita’s still hasn’t opened…what happened?)

  1. Elaine said at 3:07 pm on Friday September 11, 2009:

    wow that a great informative session about Hst.
    I however have a quick question to people who are currently living in the Hst area. We just purchased a property around 12th and Florida ( a great,big rowhouse) the house needs some work but it will be livable in the coming few months..can someone please tell me how the area is during the evenings? We passed by it few times a week and its dead and very dark on Florida..so i m getting a little worried what to expect upon moving..thanks for all your responses.

  1. Woo said at 3:13 pm on Thursday October 29, 2009:

    Late to the discussion, but I live just a block north of H Street and am loving it.  Sure, some sketchy things happen in the neighborhood, but I know my neighbors and we look out for each other.

    We also just got notice of a public meeting about the scale of the development coming on 3rd and H NE, which will include a grocery store and retail space in addition to condos on top.

  1. jim tenney said at 3:42 pm on Monday March 18, 2013:

    More new projects on H Street!


    So Excited!!!

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