loading...

Woodley Park: Still Charming, Still Exclusive

by Zak Salih

The Marilyn Monroe mural at the southern edge of Woodley Park.
UrbanTurf has profiled more than 50 neighborhoods in the DC area. We are now revisiting each of those neighborhoods to update our profiles and see how they've changed over the years.

When Benjamin Fresquez moved to DC in March 2017, he didn’t know much about the city—or its neighborhoods. What he did know was that he needed to live near Dupont Circle for his job. So, on a walk up Connecticut Avenue, he stumbled across Woodley Park.

“I’d seen a few apartments close to the National Zoo that didn’t really suit me,” Fresquez recalled. “Then I walked into Hampton House and asked if they had anything available. I was shown a seventh-floor studio with a large window facing south on Connecticut Avenue from which I could see the Washington Monument. I was sold.”

There are relative newcomers like Fresquez, younger renters living in Woodley Park’s historic apartment buildings, and then there are people like Warren Gorlick, who have been in Woodley Park for nearly 25 years.

Living in a semi-detached rowhome he shares with his wife and two daughters, Gorlick belongs to the class of Woodley Park residents who bought homes in the neighborhood —and stayed put.

“Homeowners tend to move in when they have kids because the schools in this area are generally pretty good,” he told UrbanTurf. “At the same time, unlike large suburban areas, a lot of the homeowners stay in their later years because the houses tend to be smaller and they can maintain them. Some people have been here for 30, 40, even 50 years.”

A porch in Woodley Park.

The desire for that mix between connectivity and relative quiet makes Woodley Park a popular Northwest DC neighborhood. It also makes these streets an exclusive location where rising real estate prices and low inventory make it somewhat difficult for people to plant their own roots.

Since January 2018, only seven houses have sold in Woodley Park, according to long-time Woodley Park resident and Compass real estate agent Sheila Mooney. The highest price point was $2.9 million for a relatively new, detached house. The lowest was $885,000 for a row house that “needed everything.”

Due to high real estate prices, most younger residents must look elsewhere when they want to buy a home, which is playing a part in one of Gorlick’s concerns about the neighborhood: the state of the business district. 

“In general, the Woodley Park business district seems to be doing much better than Cleveland Park,” he said. “Still, some restaurants have gone out of business. I think there’s a sense that along Connecticut Avenue, starting at Dupont Circle and continuing to Chevy Chase Circle, the restaurants don’t have the same ‘hip’ feeling as newly emerging parts of the District. The perception may be hurting the competitiveness of the entire area.”

One hope for competitiveness had been the development plans for the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, which was set to include five residential buildings and underground parking garages. But in September 2016, developer The JBG Companies (now JBG Smith) nixed the project and put the property up for sale.

Some Woodley Park residents were concerned about the neighborhood’s ability to handle so many new residents. Known as the “Woodley Regulars,” these residents took issue with the development plan’s potential to dramatically increase the neighborhood’s population density and add unwanted stress on Woodley Park’s infrastructure.

“There’s going to have to be more development near the Metro stations,” Gorlick says. “At the same time, we’ve seen other areas where they plop down massive commercial and residential buildings and leave the streets as one lane. The concern is about development outracing infrastructure.”

Woods, Schools and Animals

Woodley Park’s boundaries, according to the Woodley Park Community Association, are generally considered to be the area’s two major parks—Rock Creek Park and the Smithsonian National Zoological Park—to the east; Cleveland Avenue NW and 34th Street NW to the west; Woodley Road NW and Klingle Road NW to the north; and, to the south, Calvert Street NW.

Two of the neighborhood’s draws are proximity to Rock Creek Park and the schools, including Oyster-Adams Bilingual School, Maret School, and John Eaton Elementary School.

Then there’s the neighborhood’s most popular—and nationally known—attraction: the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. The zoo draws a lot of crowds to the neighborhood, including tourists and visiting families, but it’s not something that bothers residents like Fresquez.

“While there’s lots of activity, it doesn’t feel quite as loud or obnoxious as other areas, like U Street or Adams Morgan,” he told UrbanTurf.

Roots That Run Deep

In 1990, part of Woodley Park was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. According to the official paperwork, the neighborhood’s roots go back to the 1870s, when the area was originally plotted as a suburban area outside of Dupont Circle. Early residents with summer homes (yes, summer homes) in this wooden expanse included President Grover Cleveland and Gardiner Greene Hubbard, the founder of the National Geographic Society.

Starting in the 1920s, commercial development transformed Woodley Park and complemented the row homes, brick duplexes, Tudors, and Cape Cods sprouting up along the streets. It was this period that saw the creation of the Wardman Park Hotel (originally known as “Wardman’s Folly” by residents who feared the site would scare off visitors). 

Open City

Throughout the decades of growth, the wood was never taken out of Woodley Park.

“We can take walks in parkland literally adjacent to our house,” Gorlick said. “Just being able to take nice walks in the evening after dinner while still living in an urban environment is great.”

A Low Turnover Rate

Given the way residents speak about Woodley Park, it’s no surprise real estate is at a premium here.

“I’ve found that most buyers really love the 1900s, 1920s, and 1930s rowhouses because they are so well designed,” Mooney told UrbanTurf. “Of course, they want them renovated—but the quality of the architecture is just exceptional.”

Turnover is rare in Woodley Park, and when a house does go on the market (whether it’s a two-story rowhouse or a grand detached home), it’s usually snatched up quickly. According to Mooney, homes spend about four days on the market in the neighborhood these days.

“A renovated two-story rowhouse (which generally has three bedrooms) can sell for up to $1.4 million,” she said. “A renovated three-story rowhouse (which can have up to six bedrooms) can sell for $1.8 or $1.9 million.”

Mooney said it’s a lot easier to find a condo in Woodley Park than a single-family home. And prices have increased there as well.

Homes on 28th Street in Woodley Park

“In 2016, 38 condos sold with an average price of $434,767,” she told UrbanTurf. “So far in 2018, there have been 14 sales with the average price of $507,193.”

For those looking to rent, there are plenty of beautiful brick apartment buildings to choose from, including The Delano (starting at $1,775/month for a 1-bedroom), The Woodley, (starting at $3,748/month for a 1-bedroom) and Cleveland House (starting at $1,835/month for a 1-bedroom)

Five Things to Do

  • The Smithsonian National Zoological Park -- Woodley Park’s flagship feature brings you up close (at the right time of day) with a menagerie of animals. Plus, it’s free to get in.
  • Open City -- Sister restaurant to nearby Tryst in Adams Morgan, Open City is popular with young and old alike. Serving traditional American fare, you’ll likely have to wait if you’re planning on stopping by for Saturday or Sunday breakfast.
  • Tregaron Conservancy -- Located on the northern edge of Woodley Park, this lush and restorative natural space is perfect for casual strolls and botanical investigations. And you can walk your dog there, as well.
  • Rock Creek Park Trails -- Gorlick loves how the neighborhood puts a range of trails at his fingertips (or, rather, his feet). By hopping on at Calvert Street NW, you can walk or bike down to Georgetown or up to Chevy Chase.
  • Hot N Juicy Crawfish:  Fresquez recommends this Las Vegas import for people hungry for crawfish, shrimp, and lobster. “It’s a big draw for people who want to feast and dig in with their hands,” he said.
Lions at the Zoo

Bring Your Bike and Your Walking Shoes

Connecticut Avenue and Calvert Street NW serve as the spine of transportation in Woodley Park. It’s here where you’ll get access to major bus lines, including the L series and the 96 bus. Nearby, you’ll find the neighborhood’s eponymous Metro station, Woodley Park-Zoo, which serves the Red Line.

For getting around town, one popular way is by bike. Given Woodley Park’s accessibility to networks of biking lanes and trails, it can be easy to get around on two wheels instead of four.

“You’d be very surprised to see how many people bike around here,” said Gorlick. “On my block, the majority of people bike downtown to work. You can actually bike on dedicated bike trails all the way in, if you want. Kids bike to school, as well.”

Parking on neighborhood streets can be iffy, especially on weekends. However, given Woodley Park’s small size, once you’re there, the entire neighborhood is pretty much walkable.

The Bottom Line

There’s no denying just how much residents of Woodley Park love their neighborhood. It’s charming. It’s historic. But it’s also expensive.

Three months into his lease at Hampton House, Fresquez wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. But if he wants to buy a home in all this lush tranquility and architectural beauty, he’s going to need two things: lots of money and lots of patience.

Zak M. Salih is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. His work has appeared in publications including Washington City Paper, the Richmond Times Dispatch, Baltimore City Paper, the Chicago Tribune, and the Christian Science Monitor.

Recent Neighborhood Profiles:

See other articles related to: woodley park, hoods

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/woodley-park-still-charming-still-exclusive/14087

DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Ballston
Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Clarendon
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Rosslyn
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
Shirlington
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
Huntington
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
Parkfairfax
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way

See more Northern Virginia »

Maryland

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Annapolis
Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bethesda
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
Potomac
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
Wheaton
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Hyattsville
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Bloomingdale
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
Brightwood
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
Burleith
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
Crestwood
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
Georgetown
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
Kalorama
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
Palisades
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Petworth
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
Shaw
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Takoma
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Tenleytown
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

Brookland
New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
Deanwood
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Eckington
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
Langdon
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
NoMa
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Rosedale
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
Trinidad
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Woodridge
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 neighborhoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Hillcrest
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »

Upcoming Seminars ▾