On a Saturday morning in Northwest Washington’s Park View neighborhood, D.C. Council member Brianne K. Nadeau’s first stop was at a cafe on Georgia Avenue.
Heat Da Spot is in a nondescript gray building, but it nonetheless is one of the most popular cafes in the area. Nadeau enthusiastically greeted several customers as she waited for her order to be prepared. “I usually come in here and get my hot chocolate and Ethiopian breakfast, which is so yummy,” Nadeau (D-Ward 1) said.
“I think one of the key features of Park View is that it’s really this tightknit residential neighborhood,” she added. “It’s the people, the diversity, it’s knowing the people who own the corner store and all of that that makes it feel like home.”
Park View, which has families with roots in the neighborhood dating back 90 years, attracts a diverse population of newcomers with various ages and ethnic backgrounds. The key, Nadeau said, is to balance the needs of all segments of the neighborhood.
“I’m beginning an equitable-development plan which will be an opportunity to keep small businesses and longtime residents in the neighborhood even as it’s changing because we’re seeing major growth,” Nadeau said.
Uniting after a tragedy: Jennifer Kuiper, who works for a local nonprofit group, is heavily involved in the community. Kuiper said she came to the area by chance, for what was meant to be a short-term living arrangement until she decided where she “really wanted to be.”
She only intended to stay three years, but she’s lasted almost nine. “I love the small-town, neighborhood feeling of walking down the street where people greet each other,” she said. “My favorite time is the summer when people come out to plant a few flowers and sit on their porches — you can’t help but know your neighbors.”
Kuiper is a member of Georgia Avenue Thrive (GAT), an all-volunteer group of neighbors who initially came together to focus on public safety after a murder at the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Lamont Street. The group quickly expanded to encompass community-building activities, including First Friday specials to support neighborhood businesses, monthly street cleanups, book clubs on issues relating to gentrification and block parties every summer.
“I really love how engaged this community is with local initiatives and taking care of each other,” Kuiper said.
Many of the businesses on Georgia Avenue are small, family-owned concerns that thrive on longtime customers and word of mouth. “Our success comes from giving more than we take. We don’t measure food really,” said Ben Solomon, Heat Da Spot’s manager.
“If I see that somebody finished their eggs, I’ll go say, ‘Do you want more eggs? We aren’t going to charge you.’ If they drink coffee here, we always give them a second cup free and this makes it feel like home for people.”
Other businesses include Fish in the Hood, where seafood lovers can indulge in a variety of dishes from catfish to scallops to poultry, pork and veggie sides. Call Your Mother Deli is a recent Georgia Avenue addition that offers seasonal bagel sandwiches, pastrami and even a vegan sandwich — as long as customers are willing to wait. The line at the deli frequently stretches well past the store’s front door.
The Park View Recreation Center — which has playgrounds for children, a calisthenics area for adults, a soccer field, a basketball court and space to hold community meetings — serves as the focal point of the neighborhood.
The small streets adjacent to the rec center are residential, lined with colorful rowhouses. The houses, many of which were built in the late 19th century, are distinguished by their front porches and bold pillars.
Nadeau and others in the city are attempting to bolster affordable housing by redeveloping Park Morton, a 174-unit public housing community on Georgia Avenue. The project is part of the city’s New Communities Initiative, drafted in 2008, which aims to revitalize distressed subsidized housing and redevelop neighborhoods into high-quality mixed-income communities. The new Park Morton will provide nearly 500 units; completion is aimed for 2022.
Living there: Park View is nestled between Columbia Heights and Petworth. It’s bordered roughly by Sherman and New Hampshire avenues to the west, Rock Creek Church Road to the north, the Armed Forces Retirement Home property to the east and Howard University to the south.
There are 12 condos, two co-ops and 16 rowhouses for sale, said Lou Vivas of the Viva the Life Properties LLC team at Keller Williams. They range from a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo for $295,000 to a three-bedroom, three-bathroom condo for $1,095,000.
During the past six months, 70 homes have sold in Park View, ranging from a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo for $308,500 to a five-bedroom, four-bathroom rowhouse for $1,150,000.
Schools: Bruce-Monroe Elementary @ Park View, Harriet Tubman Elementary, Columbia Heights Middle, Roosevelt High and Benjamin Banneker Academic High.
Transit: Residents have access to the Georgia Avenue/Petworth and Columbia Heights Metro stations, both on the Green and Yellow lines. Metrobus has extensive service along Georgia Avenue.
Crime: According to crimemap.dc.gov , one homicide, four assaults with a dangerous weapon, 20 robberies and 14 burglaries have been recorded in the Park View area in the past year.