You could say the Bloomingdale rowhouse struck a chord with Amy Beth Horman.
The violin soloist and Catholic University music professor was house-hunting back in 2008, searching for a place that could accommodate her growing family as well as her thriving violin studio. But she and her fiance were on a budget. A friend of a friend tipped them off to the Northwest Washington neighborhood, which was just barely within their range.
The rowhouse she liked, though, was too expensive. “I was trying to tell myself not to keep looking at it,” said Horman, 39, “but I kept checking [online] every morning, and every time I looked, the price was going down.” When it dropped by a full $100,000 in one weekend, she pounced, making an offer on the same day she finally toured the home’s interior.
It has turned out even better than she expected. “I love the house — and that’s especially important because I work here,” she said. The front room, where she teaches violin to roughly 25 students (including several from the neighborhood), holds a grand piano; the rest is spacious enough for her three kids, two of whom were born after the family moved to Bloomingdale.
But according to Suzanne Des Marais, an associate broker with Keller Williams Capital Properties, that kind of good deal is becoming increasingly rare in the small community. In five years, Bloomingdale has vaulted from barely known neighborhood to a destination in itself. “In the past six months, prices and demand have been higher than they’ve ever been, with many listings going quickly with multiple offers,” said Des Marais. “Now I have buyers who want to be in Bloomingdale but are getting priced out.”
Working to get along: Ten years ago, Bloomingdale was a largely middle-class African American neighborhood filled with families and older adults. But these days, more people of other backgrounds, including many singles, are in the neighborhood. Streets and sidewalks are filled with hipsters on bikes, 20-somethings toting yoga mats and couples pushing strollers. “There are so many babies on the block — I see more every time I turn around,” Horman said. But it’s more diverse than it looks, she said. “I like the different kinds of people, the different age groups here,” she said, adding that while there is some tension between new neighbors and long-timers, “there’s a good amount of us getting along.”
Amenities: It’s easy to see why young families such as Horman’s are drawn to Bloomingdale. There’s a busy coffee shop, Big Bear Cafe, that frequently hosts community events; a farmers market selling vegetables, meat, cheeses and bread; the lush community-run Crispus Attucks Park; and an active neighborhood blog and family-oriented e-mail list.
Des Marais attributes the population growth partly to a growing restaurant scene. Bloomingdale didn’t have a table-service restaurant until Rustik Tavern, a pizza place, set up shop in 2010. Several others have opened since, and more are on the way. The newest addition is the Red Hen, a white-tablecloth establishment run by veterans of the city’s fine-dining scene.
Schools: The local elementary schools are Seaton, Garrison and Langley. Pupils move on to Cardozo Middle School and Dunbar and Cardozo high schools. Many children in the neighborhood are under 5 years old, so whether they will eventually attend D.C. public schools isn’t yet clear.
“I think people will be motivated to try and stay,” Horman said. “We’re definitely staying.”
Living there: Bloomingdale lies just west of North Capitol Street, bordered by Florida Avenue to the south, Second Street to the west, and Channing and Bryant streets to the north.
The neighborhood is home to many Victorian rowhouses from the late 1800s and early 1900s, as well as some porch-front homes built in the early 20th century and a number of apartment and condominium buildings.
Des Marais said 68 Bloomingdale homes sold in the past 12 months, for between $306,000 and $1.3 million, while 63 condo units sold, for between $185,000 and $720,000. Nine houses are on the market, priced from $384,500 to $1.2 million, as are eight condos ($239,900 to $499,990).
Transit: Most homes in Bloomingdale are within a 15-minute walk of the Shaw-Howard University Metro station, on the Green and Yellow lines, and the NoMa-Gallaudet University station, on the Red Line. Buses run frequently along Florida and Rhode Island avenues, and an Interstate 395 on-ramp is about a mile away.
Crime: Crime is still something of an issue. Horman says a violin student’s car was broken into, and she’s had to call the police a few times. According to the D.C. police department’s online crime map, no homicides occurred in the area in 2012, but the community did see 15 robberies, five assaults and 33 burglaries; the latter is a distinct increase over the year before.
Amanda Abrams is a freelance writer.