Where We Live: Dupont Park, seeing transition after transition in Southeast D.C.

February 28

In her 50 years in the Dupont Park neighborhood of Southeast Washington, Barbara Morgan has seen some dramatic demographic shifts.

At first, she was among the African Americans living among a sometimes unfriendly white community. Then whites moved out and the neighborhood was mostly black.

“I have seen the changes from where it was when I first moved in, and there were still a number of whites,” Morgan said. “And I have seen them move, and now I see them coming back into the community. You see the strollers and the dogs.”

Morgan said she welcomes the new­comers to what she calls “a beautiful area” with “close-knit families.”

“You have heard the expression ‘It takes a village to raise a child?’ ” said Morgan, who has served as the president of the Dupont Park Civic Association, and as the president of the D.C. Federation of Civic Associations. “We all helped.”

Change is coming to Dupont Park, where grand foursquare houses dot tree-lined Minnesota Avenue, and quieter side streets are lined with duplexes, bungalows and split-levels.

“It is more of a community feel, more space, more land,” said Samer Kuraishi, the senior vice president of A-K Real Estate, which lists and buys homes in Dupont Park.

“The parks are amazing, the easy commute, the proximity to Eastern Market, being able to be in the city and still have a suburban feel,” Kuraishi added. “It has such potential. People will look back and say: Dupont Park. We should have gotten in.”


Open space:
Fort Dupont Park, managed by the National Park Service, covers 376 acres between the Dupont Park and Fort Dupont neighborhoods.

A 10-mile trail winds through the park and passes earthwork fortifications that date to the Civil War, when the fort was part of Washington’s defense. Today, the park is home to an indoor ice rink.

The Nationals’ Youth Baseball Academy facility, which its Web side says will “provide high-quality after-school and summer learning programs for boys and girls in neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River,” is under construction nearby. In the summer, audiences attend an outdoor concert series. The park’s Web site addresses a common misconception: “The park is not near Dupont Circle.”


Few shopping options:
Residents find commercial outlets limited, another sign of the evolution during Morgan’s time there. “There was a Sears on Alabama Avenue, and I used to take my children there,” Morgan said.

“I could get washing machines. We used to love to go for popcorn. I could even go buy my Easter baskets, Easter clothing,” she adds. “Sears is gone. We now have a Safeway up there, a post office, a bank.”

The future, however, may bring a return to a more bustling retail presence, Morgan said. “Now they are buying out the property owners. This is where Skyland [a mixed-use development anchored by a Wal-Mart] is supposed to be coming.”


Living there:
Dupont Park is in the 20019 Zip code. Its definition varies, but the civic association maps its borders as Ely Place and Fort Dupont Park to the north, Fort Davis Drive to the east, Pennsylvania Ave­nue to the south, and Fairlawn Avenue and the Anacostia Freeway to the west. Part of the area is sometimes labeled Penn Branch. The closest Metro stop is Minnesota Avenue on the Orange Line, and there are many Metrobus stops.

According to Kuraishi, from January 2013 to January 2014, there were 73 sales, at prices ranging from $100,000 to $265,000. Seventeen of those were short sales, with an average price of about $148,000. Four bank-owned properties sold, averaging $135,000. Seventeen properties are now listed, with an average price of $256,000.


Schools:
Anacostia and H.D. Woodson high schools; John Philip Sousa and Kramer middle schools; Anne Beers, Randle Highlands and Kimball elementary schools; and Winston Educational Center, which has pre-K through eighth grade.


Crime:
D.C. police report that in Police Service Area 603, which includes Dupont Park, there were 247 instances of violent crime and 552 instances of property crime, such as burglary and auto theft, in the past year.

Eliza McGraw is a freelance writer.

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