If you thought the H Street neighborhood was all row houses and basement apartments, it may be time to revisit. The Northeast D.C. corridor is evolving, and housing options are, too, with a slew of luxury high-rises opening up.
The once-bustling shopping and entertainment district was ravaged by riots in the 1960s following the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. For years, properties languished.
A $35 million reconstruction project, completed in 2011, breathed new life — and a noticeably hipper vibe — into the area. New bars, restaurants and music venues opened — so many that some pondered how many bars with indoor lawn games one street could sustain.
Now the rental market is catching up, and luxury high-rises with high-end amenities are attracting new residents to the corridor.
The Flats at Atlas (1600 Maryland Ave. NE; 888-904-1632), a 257-unit complex, is on the “east end” of H Street — that is, east of the intersection with 15th Street, the Rock & Roll Hotel and the Atlas Performing Arts Center. Its units have upscale kitchens and bath finishes, and the building offers extras including a basketball half-court that’s also an exercise and yoga room.
“It’s packed full of amenities,” says Jonathon Clark, 41, who moved to the Flats after retiring from the military. Clark likes the 24-hour concierge, sports room, grilling area and “zen meditation courtyard,” where he takes his dog. “It’s a good mix of people, including students.”
On the “west end” of H, close to Union Station, the 432-unit Senate Square (201 I St. NE, Suite 202; 866-963-3056, senatesquaretowers.com) was one of the first luxury apartments in the area when leasing began in 2007. Units have high ceilings and large windows with views of the Capitol.
Nearby, 360 H (360 H St. NE; 866-979-2771, 360hstreet.com), a 215-unit high-rise that opened this spring, features gourmet kitchens and offers a Giant grocery store on the ground floor.
“It has a bit of a younger community, which is fun,” says design consultant Michelle Paison, 27, who lives in a one-bedroom apartment there with boyfriend Andrew Zabel. “I ran into someone I went to college with recently.”
Paison loves the shared spaces — a rooftop deck with grills and lounge chairs — and her private balcony.
Guy Steuart, senior vice president of Steuart Investment, which co-developed 360 H, says the area is on its way to becoming “the great street it once was.”
Steuart’s family has owned property on H since 1904, but over the past few years, “I got to know the community a lot better than I had,” he says. “The area was turning a corner.”
Just a couple of blocks away, 140-unit Ava H Street (318 I St. NE; 877-714-4718, avahstreetdistrictapartments.com) boasts “an urban-inspired design,” with stainless-steel appliances, chalkboards in some apartments and electric-car-charging stations.
Katie Fletcher, 22, says she wasn’t familiar with D.C. when she found her two-bedroom apartment at Ava H, but she likes the area.
Of course, luxury amenities come at a price that may seem steep for the once-budget-friendly neighborhood. At 360 H, studios start at $1,840 and one-bedrooms at $2,075. Studios and one-bedrooms at the Flats at Atlas begin at $1,450 and $1,575, respectively.
A one-bedroom English basement apartment in the area runs from $1,100 to $1,500.
Despite the cost, developers believe demand is high, and new real estate projects are slated to fill in the space between the east and west ends of H.
Development company Jair Lynch expects to break ground this fall on a 307-unit residential and retail space near Sixth and H. It hopes to open in late 2015.
“I saw the neighborhood was ripe for change,” says Kevin Roberts, vice president of development at Jair Lynch and an H Street resident. He says the project design draws influence from nearby Capitol Hill as well as H Street’s “unique, eclectic and edgier feel.”
Of course, in order to fill those new units, people have to get to H Street. The nearest Metro stop is Union Station, but that’s nearly a mile from apartments on the east end. Or you can take the often-packed X2 bus, which runs past Metro Center and Gallery Place by Chinatown. A long-planned streetcar line may finally begin running later this year (see below).
Residents seem set on overcoming the transit challenges.
“H Street is more central than people realize,” Paison says. “We’re luring people in.”
A Streetcar, Much Desired
H Street residents are looking forward to being able to more easily cruise the corridor soon. In 2008, D.C. began work on a streetcar line that is expected to run up and down H Street — a 2.4-mile route from Union Station to the intersection of Oklahoma Avenue and Benning Road NE.
Five years later, the streetcar tracks have been laid, benches and signs mark the streetcar stops, and the District Department of Transportation says the final 20 percent of construction will be complete and testing will begin on the
H Street/Benning line later this year.
D.C. once had a robust streetcar network but abandoned streetcars in favor of buses. The last day of streetcar service in the city was Jan. 28, 1962.
Ultimately, the proposed streetcar network will include eight lines and serve all eight wards in the district. The streetcar’s hours of operation and the fare are still to be determined, according to the Department of Transportation. E.B.