D.C.'s Northeast primed for revival

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Local,DC,Liz Farmer

Melanie Karlins, 32, is sitting inside H Street Northeast's newest establishment on a sunny afternoon, lunching on the Vietnamese dish pho as her 14-month-old excitedly greets new customers.

Across the street at SOVA Espresso & Wine, other young moms have just wrapped up their morning get-together, and down the way, a 20-something woman meets her dad on his lunch break.

On the rise
ZIP code Neighborhoods Units sold* Median price* Annual price change
20002 Trinidad, Carver Langston, H Street Eckington 547 $420,500 7%
20017 Brookland, Catholic U., Michigan Park 101 $344,000 26%
20018 Brentwood, Langdon Woodridge/South Central 114 $320,000 47%
20020 Anacostia, Hillcrest, Skyland, Randall Highlands 163 $164,000 9%

Five years ago, this scene on H Street would have been a far cry from reality. But today, as part of a swath of Northeast that has endured a checkered past, the neighborhood and others nearby are on the brink of a revival driven by singles and young professionals that many say will extend the renaissance that began in Dupont Circle in the 1990s then spread to Columbia Heights and U Street in the 2000s.

"We like our neighborhood, we like our neighbors," said Karlins, who bought a house with her husband in the Carver Langston neighborhood last year. "It's actually been a great place for us being new parents. There are a lot of other new parents close by, and if we do get the chance to go out, [the nightlife is] right there so we don't have to get a baby sitter for very long."

The Karlins are part of a wave of young families and singles, largely white, who are moving into several Northeast D.C. neighborhoods that have historically been bypassed by new residents. In the last decade, the blocks directly around H Street have seen a more than 20 percent increase in white residents, while farther-out blocks have seen up to a 10 percent increase, according to the latest census data.

The bumps are part of a larger trend in the city as the number of whites has increased and the black population has dipped below 50 percent for the first time since the 1950s. Census data show the growth is driven by young professionals and empty nesters as 20-to-34-year-olds as a group have increased by 23 percent over the last decade and 55-to-64-year-olds have increased by 29 percent.

In total, the North Capitol Hill ZIP code, which includes H Street, Trinidad and Carver Langston, has seen 547 home sales so far this year -- second only to the Adams Morgan and Dupont Circle ZIP code.

The revival is also creeping north to the suburban Brookland, Catholic University and Michigan Park neighborhoods. There, home prices have jumped over the last year by 26 percent to an average of $344,000, according to data from RealEstate Business Intelligence. In the adjacent neighborhoods of Brentwood, Langdon and Woodridge/South Central, home prices have jumped by 47 percent to $320,000.

"I'd always heard 'stay away from Northeast,' " said Richard Justice, 44, who bought a Brentwood condo in 2010.

Justice said he scouted out the neighborhood at night and decided the deal on a foreclosed, newly renovated condo was too good to pass up.

"There's been some crime here, don't get me wrong," he said. "But it's not anything directed at me, but more like the criminals are fighting with each other. I walk my dog in the middle of the night and I feel perfectly safe."

In the upper Northeast neighborhoods, turnover is slower. But with major developments breaking ground near the Brookland Metro station and others planned nearby, real estate agents say that will change.

"This is the next area ... it's just like what happened in Columbia Heights," said Audrey Hendricks, a real estate agent in Brookland.

Indeed, Brookland's main retail corridor looks as sleepy as H Street did several years ago. Longtime residents hang out on the sidewalk benches, chatting with their local beat cop as the handful of convenience marts and fast-food joints serve a light lunchtime crowd.

"Right now it's this quaint little suburb of D.C.," said 10-year resident Tim Day. "The community is really torn about development. ... We have concern our neighborhood will become the next U Street corridor."

Data Editor Jennifer Peebles contributed to this report.

lfarmer@washingtonexaminer.com

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Liz Farmer

Examiner Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner