Former drug zone gives way to families

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Local,DC,Liz Farmer

For decades, the Northeast D.C. neighborhoods of Trinidad and Carver Langston were synonymous with drugs and violent crime. Thanks to easy access to get-away routes out of the city, the residential area became a veritable war zone during the height of the city's drug crisis in the 1990s.

The area's troubled history makes its transformation into a family-oriented neighborhood a prime example of the revival happening across much of Northeast. In 2000, senior households made up a 40 percent share of households in Trinidad, while 25-to-44-year-old homeowners made up less than one-quarter, according to U.S. census data. Ten years later, the young professionals have caught up, and each group takes up 31 percent of the neighborhood.

John McIlwain, a housing expert at the Urban Land Institute, said the rehabilitation of nearby H Street and the affordability -- at least a few years ago -- of townhouses there helped draw new residents who were priced out of places like Columbia Heights and Capitol Hill.

"Washington has emerged faster than any other market out of the housing crash, and we're seeing the next wave of gentrification based on pent-up demand," he said.

Proximity to a Metro station and the promise of more development -- especially retail -- are also important draws.

To that end, many real estate watchers point to Anacostia as the city's next up-and-coming neighborhood. Although they say that any major change is years off, the District has targeted the historic neighborhood for reinvestment, and major redevelopment at nearby St. Elizabeths Hospital has already begun.

Home prices there have increased this year by 10 percent to a median $164,000.

"When you start looking at things like the ballpark and all the government work down there, Anacostia becomes a really close place to live," McIlwain said.

- Liz Farmer

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