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Lamond Riggs, D.C., residents love it enough to stay for a long time

Gwen Cofield is a co-chairman of the Lamond Riggs Citizens Association's development task force.
Gwen Cofield is a co-chairman of the Lamond Riggs Citizens Association's development task force. (Amy Reinink For The Washington Post)

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By Amy Reinink
Saturday, February 27, 2010

Caesar Dudley moved to Lamond Riggs in 1959, attracted to the affordable, well-built brick homes, the civic involvement and the convenience of city living.

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Dudley, 87, is not the oldest resident on his block and is among many to have lived in the Northeast D.C. neighborhood for more than half a century -- one of the examples showing that once people move to Lamond Riggs, they rarely move away.

"There are a lot of people on my block in their 80s," said Dudley, a retired courtroom deputy clerk. "We know each other, and we know each other's children and grandchildren. A lot of people here would have moved years ago if they could have taken their neighbors with them."

That's not to say that Lamond Riggs, roughly bounded by Kansas Avenue to the northwest, Riggs Road and Galloway Street to the south, Blair Road to the west and Eastern Avenue to the northeast, is a retirement community. The stable of longtime residents is complemented by a bevy of young families looking for affordable single-family homes in the city. Many of them say the longtime residents helped draw them to the neighborhood.

Charon P.W. Hines, 36, an educator with the Montgomery County Public Schools and president of the Lamond Riggs Citizens Association, said she bought her two-story, brick house from its original owners, who moved in when the house was built in 1945.

"It meant a lot to us that we were the second family to live in this house," said Hines, who moved to the neighborhood with her husband, Darnelle, 10 years ago. "I think it shows commitment on the part of residents. People are looking to settle here, to start families here, to stay around for a while."

Proximity to the Fort Totten Metro station and major thoroughfares such as the Capital Beltway and Baltimore-Washington Parkway make the neighborhood convenient for commuters. The neighborhood also offers easy access to amenities such as a Giant Food just across the Maryland state line and two recreation centers, including one new one in Riggs LaSalle Community Center.

"We're lucky to be close to many of the things we need," said Lawrence Martin, 88, a former vice principal of Woodrow Wilson High School, who moved to the neighborhood in 1958. "If we want groceries, there's a Giant close by. If we want to go downtown, we're close to public transportation. We aren't isolated at all."

Residents also tout the high level of civic involvement in the neighborhood. The citizens association recently celebrated its 60th anniversary, and monthly meetings are heartily attended.

"Among all of the neighborhood association meetings I attend, Lamond Riggs always has the most people -- 50 to 60 folks," said Ward 4 Council member Muriel Bowser (D), who has lived in the neighborhood for 10 years. "You get the feeling of people who care for each other and care about investing in their neighborhood."

That civic involvement has been useful in helping to shape the neighborhood's future as new development looms -- residential and retail developments are proposed to be built near the Fort Totten Metro station and on South Dakota Avenue and Riggs Road.

Residents are hungry for more amenities, such as upscale retail stores, coffee shops and sit-down restaurants, said Gwen Cofield, co-chairman of the citizens association's development task force.

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