Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Last post, I discussed the dramatic effect that the influx of young professionals into the District has had on our local real estate market.  Now, let’s shift our focus to the equally remarkable effects of the migration of young professionals and development dollars within the district on the property values and the lifestyle amenities available in many reemerging Washington neighborhoods. 

It doesn’t require forty years of wandering (or wondering!) to understand the exodus of young professionals from upper NW DC to neighborhoods farther east.  When I was shopping for a condo in 2003, I looked at a unit in Logan Circle but decided that the area was “not ready for prime time” and was therefore too risky of an investment.  Since 2003, home values in Logan Circle have soared 60% and Logan has become one of the city’s most desirable locales.  A few more investment decisions like that and I might be joining Big Bird in the unemployment line!  What I failed to realize at that time was that the waves of young professionals that were continuing to stream into DC had to live somewhere and housing in Upper NW was simply becoming too expensive.  Just like air flowing from an area of high pressure to one of low pressure, over the past ten years young professionals and development dollars have increasingly flowed east within the city seeking to find and profit from more affordable housing options.  This infusion of youth and capital has brought with it a renewed focus on modern urban design - emphasizing transit-oriented development, sustainable building, and increased access to retail , nightlife, and community resources -  to some of DC’s most historic and beautiful neighborhoods*.      


With 32% of all new 18-to-34-year-old households in the District since 2000** concentrated within ¼ mile of its stations, the tremendous growth around the Green Line is representative of the eastward migration of young professionals and development dollars as well as the District’s efforts to foster the growth of “Live, Play, Work” communities throughout the city.  Here are three Green Line neighborhoods that have seen and will continue to see dramatic changes to their look, feel, and property values: 


Petworth (20011)

·         Between 2009 – 2011, four major residential and commercial developments delivered near the Georgia Avenue/Petworth Metrorail station. Park Place (161 apartments and 17,000 sq. ft. of retail space), Residences at Georgia Avenue (72 apartments and a 11,500 square foot Yes! Organic Market), The Griffin (49 apartments) and 3Tree Flats (130 apartments) have created a new neighborhood center. Furthermore, Safeway is planning to replace its current 21,000 square foot store with 220 residential units above a modern 62,000 square foot grocery store.***

Shaw (20001)

·         Home to the 2.3 million sq. ft. Washington Convention Center that hosted 204 events and more than one million people in 2011.  The historic Howard Theater recently reopened after a $24 million renovation.  Cultural investment has also been made with the opening of the new, award-winning, Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library and new public art throughout the neighborhood.  CityMarket at O Street, a $260 million development, promises to be the neighborhood’s new epicenter in 2013 and will be anchored by a 72,000 square foot flagship Giant Food supermarket, a 182-room Cambria Suites Hotel, 626 residential units and 560 parking spaces. The 1,167-room Marriott Marquis convention center hotel is under construction and scheduled to open in 2014.*** 

Southwest Waterfront (20024)

·         The openings of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the newly expanded Arena Stage and the new 55,000 square foot Safeway and are just part of the cultural, hospitality, and retail offerings that enhance the urban vitality of this rapidly developing neighborhood.  The master plan for The Wharf (  includes 1,200 residential units, 400,000 square feet of office space, 200,000 square feet of retail space, 625 hotel rooms, 100,000 square feet of cultural space, a 400 – 500 slip marina, 12 acres of open space and 1,900 – 3,050 parking spaces. The project will be a part of the USGBC’s LEED Neighborhood Development program and the first LEED-Gold certified mixed-use project in DC. Phase I is expected to start in late 2012.***

*While this has resulted in tremendous property value increases and investment returns for early movers, it is important to note that the changes that have already occurred and those that are planned in the near future have had and will continue to have very real and not always positive repercussions for long-time residents of these areas.  A recent study examining housing trends found that the ZIP codes covering Shaw, Ledroit Park, Bloomingdale, Columbia Heights, Mt. Pleasant, and Logan Circle are three of the top twenty fastest gentrifying ZIP codes in the entire country. 
**GreenPrint of Growth, January 12, 2012 by RCLCO.
*** Source: Washington DC Economic Partnership (

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