UrbanTurf Reader Asks: What Do You Know About Mount Vernon Triangle?

by Mark Wellborn

image
555 Mass Ave.

This week, an UrbanTurf reader inquires about the Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood. He also has a contract on a unit in CityVista and wants to know if he should move forward with the purchase. Below is his email, and if you can offer your two cents, please do so in the comments section.

What is your take on the Mount Vernon Triangle area near Chinatown in DC? The area has a lot of potential, but I am not sure when it will be further realized if future development is pushed back or scrapped all together due to the economic slump.

I have a contract in at CityVista but don’t want to over pay, and I’m not sure whether the deal I got is actually a “deal.” What is the thinking on the initial sales values on spots like CityVista, the Sonata, 555 Mass Avenue, and Yale Steam Laundry? Will the values hold up under re-sale under normal circumstances (i.e. not short sales & bank owned)?

See other articles related to: urbanturf reader asks, dclofts

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/urbanturf_reader_asks_what_do_you_know_about_mount_vernon_triangle/850

24 Comments

  1. RJ said at 1:49 pm on Tuesday April 28, 2009:

    I live in Mount Vernon, and am a big fan. Everyone will tell you that the neighborhood is in a transition period, but in my opinion, it is still a great place to call home. As for CityVista, how much did you pay?

  1. Tom A. said at 1:56 pm on Tuesday April 28, 2009:

    I’m no expert, but I’d never buy a condo in Mt Vernon Triangle if I weren’t planing on living there for at least 7-10 years.  I think it’ll take that long until the it becomes a highly desired area to live in and we see a time when people are making big profits when selling their condos. 

    There’s a huge condo glut currently, and more than one condo building in the neighborhood is going apartment. That’s a sign that not enough people willing to invest in a neighborhood- or a sign that they can live in a more desirable neighborhood for around the same cost.

    I’ve only been in XX Mass Ave, but I was a bit surprised at the high price of their 2 bdrm condos with a decent view.

  1. Frank said at 2:30 pm on Tuesday April 28, 2009:

    The Dumont condos went bankrupt and the entire 500+ unit building is for sale for $170M

  1. MissyMelMelis said at 3:52 pm on Tuesday April 28, 2009:

    Check out the District Chatter (http://districtchatter.com/category/dc-area-condo-info/), the writers actually live in the Triangle themselves. They go into detail about the Dumont and also the scene at the Triangle (read their post about the prostitiutes on 4th street)  Definitely helped me make my decision on whether or not I would want to live in Mt. Vernon while it’s being developed.

  1. MissyMelMelis said at 5:16 pm on Tuesday April 28, 2009:

    I know he’s buying in City Vista not renting, but this is a pretty good resource. 

    http://www.apartmentratings.com/rate/TX-Houston-City-Vista-Apartments.html

  1. Carol said at 5:38 pm on Tuesday April 28, 2009:

    Uh, MissyMel, the link you posted refers to a City Vista in Texas…

    Anyway, I’m about to put an offer on a 1BR in the building.  The amenities in City Vista are second to none, and the building itself is very well done.  After doing a ton of research (I’ve been looking at the DC market for over 6 months), including talking with developers in the area, I’m confident that Mt. Vernon Triangle will be well developed within the next 3 years (certainly not 7-10 like someone else posted).  There are many projects planned, with several currently about the break ground.  This property is a great investment, and if you can hold onto it for 3-5 years, you will realize a very good return.  Even in the short term, tough, the convenience factor of this building, and the very close proximity to Chinatown, makes this a great place to live.

    Yes, there are plenty of rentals and condos coming into this area which saturates the market a bit in the short-term, but when they are all sold, the rest of the construction here will be office space and retail.  As a result the value of the properties will hike quite a bit.  To the reader mentioned in this post, I’d say hold onto your purchase.  Without knowing how much you paid and for what, I don’t know what kind of deal you got, but I think you can rest assured knowing that your property value will certainly hold up.

  1. Ben said at 6:01 pm on Tuesday April 28, 2009:

    Carol,

    May I ask what range your putting your offer in for?  I’m also looking at the area and wondering what 1BR prices are going for.

  1. Tom said at 6:29 pm on Tuesday April 28, 2009:

    I have to agree with carol..I think mt vernon triangle is a bit under the radar right now, but when some of these buildings that they are talking about start to go up, this area will be a lot more noticed.  the economy definitively held things back from progressing as fast as planned, but things are really turning around… i was about to purchase at the yale lofts about 6 months ago, but ultimately decided on the L at city vista, which I think is now sold out (only units in the k remain.)  even though yale lofts is close to city vista, it was just those extra few blogs too far from everything for me.  this building is selling FAST…the sales office told me they sold 18 units in the past month alone…that certainly tells you something.  city vista is without a doubt at the center of the entire mt vernon development, which is why i went with it.

    ben, you are looking at around 385k-450k w/ parking in the building for a 1br (a little more if you want a den).  prices obviously go up on the higher floors…some of the high floor units have amazing city views which is what i opted for.  you can do better in some of the older resales in the area like 555 mass, but i think it’s worth paying a small premium for the better investment.

  1. samatha b said at 7:10 pm on Tuesday April 28, 2009:

    the safeway in city vista is awesome…i don’t live there, but wish i did just for that..it is so nice, and the prices are very reasonable.  i’ve also heard rumors of some great retail going into the vacant units (brick oven pizza joint, tangy-sweet-like froyo place, some other restaurant possibilities…)  glad they aren’t going with national chains like dcusa..

  1. FourthandEye said at 8:54 am on Wednesday April 29, 2009:

    I write for a blog called The Triangle that anyone considering moving to the Mount Vernon Triangle should browse through.

    I won’t disagree with the notion that my neighborhood will take 7-10 years to tap into it’s full potential. However City Vista has several of the core amenities you need like the Safeway and Results Gym. City Vista also has the Busboys and will sign several additional restaurant tenants for the vacant K Street retail bays at some point this year.

    Let’s also consider that while MVT is a neighborhood in transition it’s only 3 blocks from the epi-center (7th & H) of the downtown’s hustle and bustle. I can be at Verizon Center and dozens of Penn Quarter restaurants with a walk of just a few blocks. Also our location is a short walk to all 5 metro lines, union station, and two DC circulator lines.

    MVT will take a little time to grow into it’s own, but it’s immediate proximity to the downtown core make it imminently more livable now than say the Capitol Riverfront, NoMA, or someplace like Jenkins Row by the Potomac Ave Metro.

  1. aj said at 10:31 am on Wednesday April 29, 2009:

    I toured the CityVista and was unimpressed, frankly. the views in the building I looked at point north rather than towards the mall, and the alley I was looking down into was less than attractive. I also thought it was weird that they went all out modern except for stair handrails and newels which got the traditional oak treatment.  there are some details that I think slipped through the cracks.

  1. DCRealtor said at 10:48 am on Wednesday April 29, 2009:

    Although CityVista appears to have nice finishes, the details are not well executed. A friend (who is also an agent) lives there and regrets the purchase. The location is sub par and that area will take AT LEAST 5 years to grow in to itself.
    I would love to have some of what ever Carol is smoking, beacuse there is no way that all of the inventory will be absorbed in 3 years. And the guy that thinks that the sales person selling CityVista is telling the truth about selling 18 units a month is misinformed as well.
    Anyone considering buying in that area needs to weigh actaul facts; absorption rate, current sales pace, price drops since the building started selling, and competition in surrounding buildings. All of the buildings converting to rentals could pose a potential future issue for buyers if the owners (of the buildings themselves) decide to convert them back to condos. Developers simply CANNOT get financing these days, so the properties that are at a standstill (aka Dumont) may be sitting vacant for an indeterminate period of time.
    Also, do not forget that a large portion of the CityVista buyers are investors. If there are too many rental units in a condo building, new owners may not be able to get financing.
    The bottom line is that you should really do your homework before making a purchase in an up and coming area, and enlist the help of an expert that has experience with new developments.

  1. Tom A. said at 11:04 am on Wednesday April 29, 2009:

    I applaud DCRealtor for his honesty and candor!  As a Realtor, he or she should have a good idea of the neighborhood’s potential.

  1. The Salesperson said at 11:18 am on Wednesday April 29, 2009:

    I usually do not respond to the blogs but I had to respond to the “DC Realtor” as the comments are so egregious and not based in fact,

    As for the comments regarding the quality of the units/building- That’s fine – you are entitled to your opinion. As for the rest of your comments frankly you are way off- Do you represent another building in the area perhaps?

    There is not an investor issue in this building.

    As for sales over the past 3 months:
    February had 28 sales, March had 19 and April had 14 so far. As I am that Salesperson you speak of I know these are accurate figures.  How exactly would you know if they were or were not accurate?

    As for the Dumont- You are right – It’s been taken over by the bank and as another person mentioned its on sale for about 170 million.  Many offers have been looked at but they have not yet closed the deal. 

    I would ask that you contact us directly to discuss the facts and also ask that your friend who purchased here contact us so we can hear from him what he is dissatisfied with and how we can improve his situation.

    To anyone else reading this blog- I suggest you come down and see it for yourself and I trust you will be very impressed with what we have done here from the residence to retail.

  1. Kim said at 11:19 am on Wednesday April 29, 2009:

    My husband and I are under contract on a unit in the Tower Lofts building at Yale Steam Laundry. We’re planning to be there for awhile, so the fact that the neighborhood is going to be under development for the next several years is fine with us. We love the style of the building and think that the fact that has personality will help with the resale value later on. We toured CityVista just to get a feel for what else was available in the neighborhood, and we really didn’t like it. It seems overpriced for what it is, and it feels like a hotel when you walk down the corridors. I think we’ll be happy with our YSL purchase in the long-term because the unit itself is everything that we want from our living space.

  1. Brett said at 11:36 am on Wednesday April 29, 2009:

    To DCRealtor: How can you say the location is sub-par?  Do you live there?  I’ve lived in an apartment building in Mt. Vernon Triangle for 2 years now, and love it.  I’m about to go from renter to buyer, and can’t wait.  Chinatown is one of my favorite areas in DC, and City Vista is like 3 blocks away from the Verizon Center…yeah, really sub-par area?  I feel safe at night when walking home, and sure there are a lot of parking lots to be built on, but I doubt that will last very long.  Just look how far Chinatown has come in the past 3-4 years alone.  I don’t mind at all living through a short transition period. 5-7 years is nothing.

  1. Nick said at 12:18 pm on Wednesday April 29, 2009:

    DC Realtor got absolutely owned by Salesperson.  Love it!

  1. Si Kailian said at 1:31 pm on Wednesday April 29, 2009:

    i live right across ny ave from the triangle and having all of the necessities just steps away is like paradise.  between the safeway (it has a frickin NUT bar, people), the gorgeous hardware store, busboys, the gym…and more coming, its heaven.  and like fourthandeye said, you are within spitting distance of PQ.  you can walk to the national mall!  I think thats pretty neato.  There is a great community, lots of local blogs & 2 neighborhood associations.  You see your neighbors at the store, its lovely.  I was happy to pay the $$$ to buy here (house - i like the old stuff) cause this is where we want to be for a long time to come.  And its only going to get better (eventually - dang downturn - patience:).

  1. 4 Year Resident said at 9:02 pm on Wednesday April 29, 2009:

    As a 4 year resident (renter) of Mt. Vernon Triangle/Chinatown, I can tell you that the area will never be on par with others in the city until the various homeless shelters/assistant centers are moved elswhere.  The concentration of bums in the area makes it near unliveable until you become almost numb to them.

  1. MadrigalResident said at 11:03 am on Thursday April 30, 2009:

    I moved to the MVT a little over a year ago and couldn’t be happier.  I actually researched condos in DC for almost 2 years before making the leap to DC (I was just being a punk).  I love love love the location to the downtown amenities and being able to walk to the National Mall.  Safeway, Busboys, Hardware store…awesome!  Yeah wer’re still transitioning (a lot of areas are in DC) but I’m sitting still for a while so this isn’t a problem for me. 

    But folks, stay up to date on what’s going on in the Triangle.  Read the neighborhood blogs.  Things are changing all the time.  I live in Madrigal Lofts (another great option with great prices) and Buddha Bar will be a block away by end of 2009!  The prostitution is getting a little better and I believe one of the homeless shelters have already closed.

    So best advice like a previous post said is do your research.

  1. sasha said at 11:15 am on Thursday April 30, 2009:

    Metro access, heart of the city, close to the Hill and the Mall, high-end retail, and tons of condos..the Triangle is going to be THE place in a couple of years…the problem is that there is a condo glut right now, and supply exceeds demand.  If you are buying a condo, negotiate aggresively and you need to understand that there is a decent chance that the prices will fall.  Expect to stay put FOR A WHILE - like hold it for 10 years.  In 10 years it will be a gold mine and you will wish you bought that 1BR for 375k. Of course, if you do it now, you have the heartburn that it may fall to 350k.  It’s really really hard to time - the key is to negotiate the best deal you can and be able to hold it.  The fundamentals of the area are good.  If you want to avoide the heartburn…forget the condos.  Snap up one of the run-down row homes and fix it up…instant equity.  Tons of work, but instant equity.

  1. Lynda said at 3:23 pm on Thursday April 30, 2009:

    I work for a moving company that has scheduled moves into most of the Mount Vernon condo’s. More specifically, most of those moved into either the City Vista or the Yale Steam Laundry
    City Vista buyers were a little more upscale, young professionals with a desire for urban living. Yale is one of the coolest properties in town and their tenants also young professionals with discerning taste. Both buildings are run by very experienced professionals that delivered on all the promises you would originally have been presented with except higher prices. For what it’s worth, your buying at a great time, in a newly developing area where a ton of restauranteurs are looking to sign cheap leases, and the master plan moving forward is amazing.

  1. Yalie said at 3:51 pm on Thursday April 30, 2009:

    To Kim who purchased at Yale Steam , congrats and we look forward to having you as a neighbor! Just celebrated my 1 year anniversary at Yale, could not be happier with the building or my neighbors.

  1. Scott said at 9:16 am on Friday May 1, 2009:

    I live in the MVT about 2 blocks east of the City Vista.  My wife and bought a house here in 20001 ( a year when the area really was in transition).  I cannot say enough about the area.  The neighborhood is so convenient.  We walk to work, walk to grocery, the gym, all the top notch foodie restaurants in PQ. We have a car but it rarely gets used.  As far as the neighborhood being in transition.  If you want transition visit Eckington, Trinidad or Petworth. MVT along with its sister-in-law Columbia Height have transitioned already.  Besides if you can afford a condo that is not transitional area (DuPont, G’town, Foogy Bottom) you would not be reading this blog.  Anyways those places are tired now. The city for the past nine years is developing east of 14th St.  That’s where the excitement is.  MVT is smack in the middle, poised to be a key locale.  The West is already developed.  From the east you have all the development occurring around NY and Florida Ave (the area known as NOMA), the NY Ave Metro (we know what a metro does for a location) and much more planned.  At the center, two blocks from the City Vista, Gallery Place has already claimed its position as one of the hottest areas within DC.  Lets all remember MVT is a downtown neighborhood in large city, if you want tranquil city living, you may be better suited for downtown Frederick Md.

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