James Doyle said he has a practice of going running to clear his mind and help him concentrate.

So about a decade ago, when he was preparing to move from Midtown Manhattan to Washington to be with his partner, the process of “finding the right neighborhood” became an obsessive pursuit that put his running shoes to good use, he said.

Doyle said he was familiar with neighborhoods closer to the city’s center, near Howard University and the U Street corridor. Neighborhoods such as LeDroit Park and Bloomingdale appealed at the time to his heart, if not his budget, he said.

“We loved those neighborhoods but just couldn’t afford to move there,” he said.

Meanwhile, Doyle kept running.

It was during one of his routine runs when a turn off Georgia Avenue, near Howard University, opened his eyes to the tucked-away neighborhood of Pleasant Plains, a community he’d never heard of, he said.

“I don’t think I knew the name of the neighborhood until I had my agent look up the house I saw. It was so close to everything and was very affordable. We were very lucky,” said Doyle, who moved eight years ago to a 1,600-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bathroom Federal-style rowhouse.

Inclusive and warm: Housed among better-known neighborhoods such as Columbia Heights and Shaw, Pleasant Plains sits west of the McMillan Reservoir with its spine running along Georgia Avenue.


Cary Garcia said his very first job out of college in the mid-1980s was as a bookkeeper for a radiologist near Howard University Hospital. At the time, he said, the Pleasant Plains neighborhood was experiencing high crime rates and many commercial and residential vacancies.

“I remember thinking, ‘Why do people even want to come here?’ It was a different time, a different neighborhood and a different environment,” Garcia said.

Now, Pleasant Plains is a “trendy place to live,” said Garcia, a local real estate agent who has sold properties in the neighborhood.

“I never, ever thought there’d be any interest in that neighborhood,” Garcia added. “But there’s been so much economic investment there and in surrounding neighborhoods that it’s now a place where more people choose to live.”

Lewis Fuller, who has lived in Pleasant Plains for 40 years, said that he’s had a “front-row seat” to the gradual shift in the neighborhood’s demographics.

“The complexion of the residents has changed, but that’s nothing compared to the jump in property values,” said Fuller, chuckling. He said he purchased his 1,408-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom rowhouse in the 1970s for less than $50,000. The property, he said, is now worth more than 10 times that amount.

“The neighborhood has changed a heck of a lot in a number of ways.”


A sign on Hobart Place NW highlights the historic Pleasant Plains neighborhood of Northwest Washington. (Evy Mages/For The Washington Post)

Living there: Pleasant Plains is bordered roughly by Harvard Street to the north, the McMillan Reservoir and Second Street NW to the east, W Street NW to the south and Florida and Sherman avenues to the west.

In the past 12 months, 12 properties have sold in Pleasant Plains, ranging from a 767-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom rowhouse for $449,950 to a 1,476-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom condominium for $1,020,000, said Garcia, the agent with Coldwell Banker.

There are three houses for sale in Pleasant Plains, ranging from a 1,200-square-foot, two-bedroom, three-bathroom condominium for $679,900 to a 2,254-square-foot, five-bedroom, five-bathroom rowhouse for $1,449,900.

There is one house under contract, a 1,200-square-foot, two-bedroom, three-bathroom rowhouse for $549,900.

Schools: Bruce-Monroe Elementary School at Park View, Tubman Elementary, Columbia Heights Education Campus for middle school, MacFarland Middle School, Cardozo Education Campus for high school, and Roosevelt High.

Transit: Pleasant Plains is within walking distance of four Metro stations on the Green and Yellow lines: Shaw-Howard University, Georgia Avenue-Petworth, Columbia Heights and U Street/African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo. Pleasant Plains is also serviced by a number of bus routes along Georgia Avenue.