Capitol Riverfront: Still Growing

by Tim Brown

The Capitol Riverfront

Slowly but surely, progress is being made on Capitol Riverfront, Southeast DC’s neighborhood by the ballpark. Despite being one of the areas in DC hit hardest by the economic downturn, work continues on the many residential and commercial projects in the neighborhood and residents continue to move in.

UrbanTurf first profiled the neighborhood in October 2008, and checked in with a status update last spring, reporting that construction on many commercial and residential projects was about 25 percent complete. Today, the neighborhood still has a long ways to go until ‘build-out’, but it undeniably has a strong foundation in place.

Michael Stevens, Executive Director of the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District, says that the population of the neighborhood is currently estimated at 2,781, and is expected to surpass 3,000 by the end of 2010. He told UrbanTurf that about 85 percent of the apartments in the neighborhood have been leased, and 75 percent of new home inventory has been sold.

The Capitol Riverfront, or the Front as it is sometimes called, is young in more ways than one. Most of its new residents are young singles and couples, and the median age in the neighborhood is 36. Andrew Young, who has an apartment at the Onyx on First, told UrbanTurf that the ‘newness’ and relative youth of the neighborhood were the deciding factors for him.

“Most of my neighbors are under 30,” he said, noting that the community is very active in the summertime with regular lounge and rooftop pool get-togethers.

Below, we provide some basic information about the neighborhood as well some development updates.

Location and Transportation

Sandwiched between Capitol Hill and the Anacostia River, the Front contains 1.5 miles of river frontage that, one day, will all be made available for public use in the form of parks and pavilions. The Green Line’s Navy Yard station sits in the middle of the neighborhood, and two other stops, Capitol South and Eastern Market, are within walking distance. The Front is also served by the Circulator, the P1/P2 and the 90/92/93 bus routes. Add Diamond Teague Park’s water taxi service to that and you’ve got a pretty accessible neighborhood.

Where to Live?

Capitol Quarter

If you are looking for a floor-through condo in a Victorian row house, Capitol Riverfront is not the place for you as the housing stock here is primarily all new condos, co-ops, and apartments. While the majority of the housing inventory consists of new condos, EYA’s Capitol Quarter development offers town homes designed to resemble the iconic row houses of some of D.C.’s more established ‘hoods.

Here are a few updates on some of the area’s major residential developments since we last wrote about the area:

Capitol Quarter – The development’s sales manager told UrbanTurf that there are two units left in Phase I of Capitol Quarter for purchase which can still be customized to the buyer’s specifications. Prices for the units start in the low $600’s. Phase II construction is expected to begin this fall.

Velocity Condos – Velocity Condos began sales in the summer of 2008 and has sold about 40 percent of its 200 available units. A spokesperson from the project tells UrbanTurf that it has seen a recent uptick in sales, having closed on 10 units in February alone, despite the weather conditions. The development is soon going to be offering incentives to buyers such as $10K towards closing costs and a free parking spot with each unit.

Onyx on First – The luxury apartment complex began leasing in January 2008 and has rented 251 of its 266 available units. There are still a few left, with prices ranging from $1,675 a month for a studio up to $3,325 for its top-end, three-bedroom penthouse unit.

Where to Shop?

When we checked in last April, retail establishments in the Capitol Riverfront were few and far between. The slim offerings included a CVS Pharmacy, Five Guys, and Starbucks, all located along M Street. Since then, a few more stores have joined the ranks. Last summer, Domino’s Pizza and Corner Copia Deli arrived in the neighborhood, and according to Michael Stevens, Justin’s Cafe, an Italian restaurant, will be opening its doors in the coming four to six weeks on the ground floor of the Velocity Condo. The much-anticipated Broilermaker Shops, a project that is expected to bring a slew of new retail to the area, is only about two to three leases away from reaching the 80 percent threshold at which renovation and construction can begin. If construction gets underway soon (Stevens estimates that it will), the new mixed-use development could be completed by late 2011.

In a major step for the budding neighborhood, a Harris Teeter is rumored to be opening a 50,000 square-foot store at 401 M Street SE as a part of The Yards mixed-use development. If it happens, the store would not open for a few years, so for now residents head to Safeway at 4th and M Street SW, the Harris Teeter at 13th and Pennsylvania Avenue, or the YES! Organic Market at 658 Pennsylvania Avenue SE.

Nationals Park

What to Do?

While the centerpiece of the neighborhood is Nationals Park, the home stadium for the Washington Nationals and the nucleus for neighborhood activities in the summer, there are plenty of other options for extracurricular endeavors.

Last summer, the Front played host to Art-O-Matic, DC’s annual arts festival. According to Stevens, it drew 76,000 people, the strongest showing in its ten-year history. A unique addition, the Trapeze School New York relocated to the neighborhood on February 15th. The heated tent hosts classes all year around, and is a great option for those looking for something out of the ordinary.

Those looking for something a bit more ordinary will probably be disappointed as the bar scene is fairly scarce. Right now, outside of Nationals Park, the only bar in the neighborhood is the hotel lounge bar at the Courtyard Marriott.

Here are a few regular events that will be starting in the coming months:

  • Movie nights will be hosted every Thursday, in the southernmost block of the proposed Canal Park.
  • Riverfront Park will open its doors in July.
  • Starting Memorial Day, The Capitol Skyline hotel at South Capitol and I Street SW will host weekly pool parties on Saturday and Sunday.

Although it has experienced a few bumps along the way, Capitol Riverfront continues to be an appealing option for home buyers who aren’t afraid to wait 5 to 10 years to see a return on their investment. Nick Alexander moved into his Capitol Quarter town home three months ago, and is anxious to see what’s in store for the neighborhood in the future. For now, he likes the peace and quiet, but also likens the Front to living in the dorms on a college campus.

“Someone new moves in every few weeks,” Alexander said. “It’s always fun to meet new neighbors.”

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This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/capitol_riverfront_still_growing/1848


  1. Richko said at 4:33 pm on Monday March 8, 2010:

    > [Velocity] is soon going to be offering incentives to buyers such as $10K towards closing costs and a free parking spot with each unit.

    Hmmm. I visited the sales center last summer and these incentives were already in place.  The relatively high prices for such an amenity-free and, in my mind, distant neighborhood were strong DISincentives.  The balconies, all identical size, barely fit a chair; forget a table you could have a meal on.  And of course the “pool” is the 3’ deep 2-lane-wide lap pool, not exactly my idea of summer fun.  The model 1BR+den unit was quite appealing overall, but the price was nearly $500K.

    Only if the prices came WAY down would I reconsider that place.  If they’ve actually sold 40%, maybe they finally have…

  1. SWester said at 5:52 pm on Monday March 8, 2010:


    Interesting observations. I was considering heading down there out of curiosity to see the layout and quality of the units, but I’d already assumed the list prices would be inflated (especially with that free parking deal).  I wonder if the prices have dropped much since your visit in the summer…

    SE Riverfront isn’t a bad place to live, but it’s really really dead at most hours outside of a baseball game. I realize that SW isn’t exactly U Street, but it does have a distinct community feel that is lacking over on the other side of Capitol Street.

  1. fingerblaster69 said at 5:58 pm on Monday March 8, 2010:

    @ Richko

    All you do is complain. Poor old man.

  1. Richko said at 6:47 pm on Monday March 8, 2010:


    Well, I’m not complaining about the fact that for the last 12 years I’ve lived in a cheap, rent-controlled building downtown in a fairly spacious 1BR unit with an interesting and smart layout, with a 40 sq. ft. balcony and a small but better-than-most rooftop pool (over 5 ft. deep!).  Now that I finally can afford to buy a nice condo in a similarly-situated neighborhood, there’s virtually nothing available that for me would be trading up, except for the (un)holy trinity of granite, stainless, and hardwood, none of which I currently have (and don’t particularly long for, but that’s what I would end up with regardless).  I’m very attached to my pool and my balcony, but would like to get a newer and a bit larger place.  So yeah, that’s my complaint, woe is me, waaaaaahhhh.

    And if Velocity had gone with a more-than-token pool and larger balconies, I would probably be willing to pay what they’re asking.  As-is, it’s not for me.  Until I find it, I’ll just keep renting.  I’m sure that’s what you would tell me to do anyway.

  1. Mike said at 7:13 pm on Monday March 8, 2010:

    Do you want an Olympic size roof-top pool?  Do you know how much water weighs?  Who cares if you don’t buy here, someone else will.

    Depends on what floor for the 1B+den.  Per Sq/Ft same price or cheaper than Clarendon.  Remember, don’t judge on what this place is today.  If you want to buy, you will buy now, wait it out and by say 2013, this will be a hot spot.

  1. fingerblaster69 said at 7:29 pm on Monday March 8, 2010:

    Yeah, it seems like Richko wants Olympic size roof-top pool for his GuysGoCrazy party.
    Mike, I wouldn’t bet Capitol Riverfront will be a hot spot by 2013.

  1. Will Smith said at 7:48 pm on Monday March 8, 2010:

    Please keep your comments civilized and relevant to the topic of the article. Future comments to the contrary will be deleted immediately.

    Will Smith
    Publisher, UrbanTurf

  1. SWester said at 10:28 pm on Monday March 8, 2010:

    Yeah, wow, when did this conversation turn so ugly?  Richko’s comments are totally valid.  Overpriced condos with baby wading pools that cater to hipster yuppies are nothing to get excited about, and they’re a dime-a-dozen in this town.

    And it’s true that SE Riverfront is still a ghost town. Maybe in a couple years things will be different, but for now, it’s a concrete wasteland.

  1. Richko said at 10:29 pm on Monday March 8, 2010:

    Found my Velocity price list from last summer.  The 1BR+den/2BR units that were the same as the model unit (1,065 s.f.) were priced as follows:

    7th floor: $488,900; condo fee $488
    12th floor: $530,900; condo fee $488

    That translates to $459 and $498/s.f. respectively, which I guess isn’t so bad at all when you consider the incentives. (The then-listed smaller 1BR+den units were $442/s.f. and $470/s.f.) And as I said, I did like the layout and the finishes; the model, at least, was rather impressive.  So I’m not bashing Velocity.  Probably for a lot of buyers it’ll be just the ticket.

    For comparison’s sake, there’s a 1BR/1BA unit right now for sale at 1010 Mass, 920 s.f./no balcony, no parking space, for $425,000 which is $462/s.f.  I’d argue that 1010 Mass is in a “better” location and has the rep of being one of the nicer/more expensive highrise condo buildings in DC (though it has no gym); the overall value may be about the same as those units in Velocity, but is Velocity really being positioned as comparable to 1010 Mass resales? (Maybe the Whitman is a better comp building since those units usually include a parking space.  I’m seeing a range of $420 to $551/s.f. in the Whitman right now.)  And if you want new, CityVista “builder specials” on the MLS right now are about comparable $/s.f. without parking, or in the $510/s.f. range with parking.

    I guess with Velocity I was just hoping that in that neighborhood the prices would be much lower… back to reality!

  1. Mateo said at 2:03 am on Tuesday March 9, 2010:

    I just purchased a condo at velocity and will close later this month.  Hands down, I think Velocity has one of the nicest finish out packages available in the 300k price range.  I ended up with the largest one bedroom layout, on the top floor, for about $450 per square foot.  That’s a good deal for a large one bedroom with deeded underground parking. 

    This neighborhood is a longer term investment; however, Barracks Row is a short 15 minute walk away, South Capitol is only 6 or 8 blocks, so you can get to more established neighborhoods pretty easily. 

    Fingers crossed on the new Harris Teeter in the neighborhood…

  1. AD said at 11:22 am on Tuesday March 9, 2010:

    I looked at buying at Velocity back in October, and they told me if I had 20% down or all cash, I could close in a month otherwise I’d have to wait until they sold at least 51%. They said they had at least fifteen settlements scheduled for Oct., but I decided to wait before buying, and watch to see what happens with them. Looking back now, I wonder what’s going on there, since they say they’ve settled on a lot of units, but public records only shows five settlements since beginning of November (what happened to fifteen in October?), and the DC Property sales database doesn’t show any sales at all. I know those sites can have some delays, but not months of delays. It looks like people are living there, but how is that possible with only five recorded settlements? Are they letting people live there for free?? Anyways, I think they’re over-priced, for a building that’s no different than any other. And what happened to the two buildings planned for that block?

  1. Martin said at 12:10 pm on Tuesday March 9, 2010:

    @AD: It’s been my experience that DC public records often take months to process. My own home didn’t show as mine in public records for over 100 days, and was about as long when I sold it. So, it may have a considerable number of sales that just aren’t there yet.

    I agree with the other posters and the article, though, that the price per square foot for both rentals and condos are similar to other, more established neighborhoods with more amenities to offer. That alone ruled out the Front in my search. The lack of any unique housing options didn’t help either. Every one of these buildings look the same to me, inside and out. I wonder why there wasn’t a single developer down here who thought to do something different, possibly with under 100 units? Where’s the boutique buildings there?

  1. AJ said at 3:51 pm on Tuesday March 9, 2010:

    I just purchased and moved into the Velocity late last month and wanted to clear up AD’s comments as I dealt with similar issues. I had 20% ready for a down payment and I was told that with the exception of one of their preapproved lenders (necessary to get the 10k towards closing costs) I could not get a conventional loan for the building until 51%. All the lender’s were more than happy to do FHA loans however. I ended up going with that (reputable) one lender who let me do a conventional loan on 20%, but the main game is still FHA at the moment it seems.

    The value of the units versus other areas in the Velocity building range depending on what you go for I think. I think if you’re looking at 1BR dens or below, you’ll find that for the Square Footage, parking spot and amenities, it is tough to find a better deal. Sure you can get something similar in an established neighborhood, but it rarely includes a parking spot, nothing towards closing costs and is usually much smaller. As of now, I’m happy with the purchase after looking at 400 other condos in and around the DC area.

    As far as the settlements are concerned, they have been slowly rising, especially in the last few months due to the shortage of inventory in the area. DCdeeds sometimes takes a loonnnggg time to post information. 40% of the time they post things in 2-3 weeks, but the other 60% gets lost in some blackhole somewhere and doesn’t show up for another 4 months for some reason.

  1. Michael said at 3:55 pm on Tuesday March 9, 2010:

    Agreed that Velocity is overpriced, and while the pool is just 3 ft (sales office there said this was because deeper pools require a lifeguard, or something), the panoramic view of the entire region is UNPARALLELED (disclaimer: I live in nearby CHT).  However, the interior design and finishings are somewhat horrendous two-tone.  And the balconies are incredibly small… too small for even a chair and a drink stool…

  1. Michael said at 3:59 pm on Tuesday March 9, 2010:

    @Martin I agree, there are no interesting building in my neighborhood.  They are all blah (though mine has nice amenities), but I bought for location: Metro and ballpark.

  1. Thomas said at 4:15 pm on Tuesday March 9, 2010:


    Did you use any of those preferred lenders at the Velocity? If so, are they offering any incentives?

  1. AJ said at 5:38 pm on Tuesday March 9, 2010:


    As I stated in my original post, Velocity is the one that has the incentives, not the lender. They give you 10k towards closing costs and 1k to build your closet if and only if you go with a preferred lender or finance the entire purchase yourself. Their reasoning (excuse) was that since the preferred lenders know the ins and outs of the building, it makes the process go smoother. I’m not sure of the reasoning to be honest, but I shopped around outside of these preferred lenders and found the rates/conditions comparable. For my place, the closing cost credit covered the entirety of my closing costs, so at the end of the day I really did save 11k out of pocket and off the purchase price. That should definitely be considered when looking at the building.

    As I also stated, for my situation, only one of the preferred lenders was willing to do a conventional loan with 20% down and a non-habitting co-borrower. However, last I checked two of the five lenders in Velocity were doing conventional loans without the 51% number. All five of the lenders are accepting FHA loans however.

    Hope that’s helpful.

  1. AJ said at 5:45 pm on Tuesday March 9, 2010:


    Definitely agreed on the rooftop. Absolutely gorgeous panoramic views when you walk 360 on the pathway around the entire roof. It wasn’t a factor in my purchasing decision, but all the rest of the buildings in the area are height-limited so supposedly the view will remain the same as it now.

  1. vahoya said at 3:24 pm on Wednesday March 10, 2010:

    The Navy Yard has gotten a bad rap, a trend that started with a Post article written last year that every other news agency/blog picked up on.  It’s a long term neighborhood, that will ultimately deliver because of the large amount of resources already invested there (DOT, Navy Yard, Nats, Parks, etc.).  It just depends on your time horizon.  The city will do what’s necessary to get property tax and sales tax revenues up to snuff.

    Bear in mind that Gallery Place took 10+ years before it fully developed.  The Navy Yard will take at least that, probably longer, considering how much larger an area it is.

    Regarding Velocity, I think it’s going to be a long slow road to sellout.  Many of the 1BRs are in the high $300s and at that price you have your choice of almost any location in the city.  Also, I wouldn’t bet on those views staying.  I don’t know the approval status for every parcel surrounding it, but every developer will try and maximize their FAR.  Those views will ultimately get blocked.  That being They have good product and as the competitive new projects around the city sell out, they will get their share of sales.  I wouldn’t invest there though, too many other options now and there’s no upside baked into those numbers as it stands today.

    For the record, I live in the Navy Yard, so I’m for as much growth as possible. You just have to have a long term view and understand that the development cycle takes time.  Once the new parks get finished, things will really start to come together.  Also, both the Navy Yard and the Marine Barracks are planning extensive expansion efforts.  This will force further development of the submarket as these projects are less likely to be affected by the recession and lack of construction financing.

  1. Thomas said at 5:50 pm on Wednesday March 10, 2010:


    The city doesn’t allow you to build buildings that are taller than the Capital Hill Dome.
    Those views will never get blocked.

  1. vahoya said at 5:39 pm on Friday March 12, 2010:


    I am not following you.  The Velocity is surrounded by build-able parcels on nearly every side, all of which are subject to the same zoning requirements.  The pad on the north side of the building was meant to host a sister building of the same size, if memory serves correctly.

    So, assuming that those parcels get developed, the velocity will eventually trade its unobstructed views for those of other buildings.

  1. jess said at 1:05 am on Sunday March 28, 2010:

    I am looking to buy a 1 bd condo in DC in the nearest future. What would you suggest anything in 250K range? Thanks.

  1. John said at 3:24 am on Tuesday March 30, 2010:

    Jess capitolhilltower has 1br starting at 265K. website is capitolhilltower.com

  1. gsh said at 2:01 pm on Sunday April 25, 2010:

    Please tell me what it is really like to live at velocity, getting ready to sign on the dotted line.  Thank You.

  1. Ad said at 7:50 pm on Monday April 22, 2013:

    ‘Bout time for an update on Capitol Riverfront, is it not?

Comments are closed.

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