Bellevue, in the District’s Southwest quadrant, is a quiet, modest residential community with well-kept homes beloved by longtime residents. Potted plants sit on doorsteps, flowers hang from porch awnings and mature trees bear golden red autumn leaves.
Sheila Bunn lives in the home she was raised in. Her family moved there in 1980. “Rather than me go out and purchase a home, my parents decided to buy a bigger house. So I bought their house and am raising my six-year-old daughter, Logan, in the home I grew up.”
Most of the homes are 1940s redbrick single-family houses and duplexes. The neighborhood also has townhouses, condos, co-ops and rental apartments, and there is some new construction and renovation.
Toayoa Aldridge bought a townhouse in a development created out of a former apartment complex in 2007. “I was attracted to them because I liked the renovation and because I wanted to stay east of the river,” she said. Previously she lived in Maryland.
“As an educated African American I wanted to stay in the community and be a part of its growth and change. Many of my neighbors are black urban professionals. Many of us are single as I am. We wanted to help build our neighborhood,” she said.
She attended community partnership meetings, which solicited input from residents about neighborhood transformation.
That transformation has included the new William O. Lockridge Library, the Department of Homeland Security’s planned move to the St. Elizabeths campus and school renovations. “Those are significant changes in infrastructure and an indication that our neighborhood anchors are improving,” said Aldridge.
Bedroom community: Nevertheless, the community’s real estate values lag behind other neighborhoods, and there are few shops.
“We have a great quality of life and neighbors are friendly and inviting,” said Dionne Brown, a former commissioner with Advisory Neighborhood Commission 8D and a fourth-generation Washingtonian who grew up in Deanwood in Northeast. “On the other hand, we have a low livability rating because we do not have amenities like a grocery store, independent businesses or a dog park. This is a bedroom community where you lay your head, change your clothes, but do most of your activities outside the neighborhood.”
“I generally don’t spend money here. I’d like to be able to do so, but there aren’t any retailers who cater to my needs, except Gisele Hair Braiding on Elmira Street, where I get my hair done,” said Brown.
The neighborhood once had a thriving commercial corridor on South Capitol Street until most businesses got out during the crack era, she said. The owner of the main shopping center hasn’t been able to secure retail tenants for a planned mixed-use development and therefore can’t obtain financing.
Brown said she purchased her home in 2001. “Most owners on my block are original or longtime owners who have invested in their homes, decorated them, feathered their nests, so to speak. I got a lot more for my money than for any other house I considered while I was shopping,” she said.
The house appreciated rapidly in the first seven years, then lost value in the 2008 market crash and hasn’t fully recovered.
“I see this as due to the city’s lack of investment. I am very angry at the city for forsaking us and not bringing in local commerce and economic development as has been done in other neighborhoods. Local officials come at election time but then forget about us,” said Brown.
What’s nearby: Oxon Run Park and Trail is an oasis with grass, play equipment and picnic tables.
National Harbor, Anacostia Park and National Capital Parks-East are great for recreation and entertainment.
The Southwest Waterfront has a Safeway, Arena Stage and Potomac River cruises. Navy Yard has Nationals Park and a pedestrian waterfront park along the Anacostia River.
A Giant supermarket is on Alabama Avenue. The Eastover and Rivertown Shopping Centers in Oxon Hill have many food stores. Old Town and Northern Virginia are 10 minutes away.
Living there: Bellevue, Zip code 20032, is bordered on the west by Second Street SW, the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE and South Capitol Street SE on the north, First Street SE on the east and Joliet Street SW on the south.
According to Larry Bivins, an agent with Long and Foster, five properties are for sale, ranging from a two-bedroom, one-bathroom condo for $40,000 to a four-bedroom, two-bathroom three-level townhouse for $280,000. Nine properties are under contract, ranging from a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo for $24,900 to a three-bedroom, two-bathroom four-level duplex for $364,900. In the past year, 29 properties were sold, ranging from a two-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op unit for $25,000 to a three-bedroom, three-bathroom single-family house for $378,900.
Schools: Patterson and Leckie Elementary, Hart Middle, Ballou High.
Transit: Interstate 295 runs parallel to the community. South Capitol Street stretches through it and turns into Maryland Route 210 when it crosses the Maryland line and intersects with Interstate 495. Metro buses travel along South Capitol Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. The closest Metro stations are Congress Heights and Southern Avenue on the Green Line.
Crime: According to crimemap.dc.gov , there were approximately eight burglaries, 14 robberies and 25 assaults in the past year.