What a difference a few years makes. Not long ago, Trinidad in Northeast Washington was shadowed by a curfew, drugs, gangs, crime and a bad reputation.
Today the streets in this modest neighborhood are clean. Small front yards are well tended. And signs of renovation and new construction are common.
“The neighborhood was run-down, but now it’s a good place to live. Houses are selling like hotcakes,” said Tony Britt, a 42-year resident who runs a handyman service. “It’s come a long way and has turned into a vibrant and viable area,” he said on a recent morning.
Trinidad’s housing stock is primarily Victorian and Craftsman-style rowhouses, many of which have been converted to condominiums, said Larry Bivins, a sales associate at Long & Foster Real Estate. The houses are up a few steps from the sidewalk, which makes room for yards of flowers, rock gardens and even little fountains. Entrance doors are a mix of colors, including yellow, red and royal blue. Rooflines are flat, slanted or pointed. Behind the houses are patios, yards, decks, garden sheds and alleys.
Contemporary-font house numbers and banisters made of brushed nickel are typical of the renovated homes. Mid-rise buildings in varying stages of completion are scattered across the neighborhood, especially on corners. Dumpsters sit on the street.
Art in the Alley: Amanda and Thomas Hudson and their four children, J.T., 8, Elizabeth, 5, Truett, 4, and Victoria, 3, are Trinidad newcomers in a corner house with wraparound yard. They moved from New Orleans to start Pillar Church, settled first in Dumfries, Va., and then found what they were looking for — a yard and a basement — in this house. “We home-school and have church meetings here, so we wanted space inside,” said Amanda Hudson.
Noble Britt, older brother of Tony Britt and a nearby neighbor, has lived there more than 30 years. “I grew up on Florida Avenue and never left,” he said. “It used to be terrible in the ’70s and ’80s, with lots of drugs. You couldn’t walk through here. It’s so much better today. You see home improvements and painting all over the neighborhood.” He lives in a rowhouse with his wife, Stella, and their children, ages 18, 14 and 4 months.
Trinidad Recreation Center includes an indoor basketball gym, a fitness room and a teen center; an outdoor basketball court and a skate spot; a playground with red, blue and white play equipment — swings, slides, zip-line, sensory panels and climbing walls — based on a superhero theme; plus benches and a rain garden.
Art in the Alley 2016, a one-day outdoor art festival showcasing work by local artists, will take place Saturday from 6 to 10 p.m. Pieces will be hung on walls and fences in the alley between the 1200 blocks of Florida Avenue and Morse Street. Music, food and drink will accompany the show.
The Trinidad Neighborhood Association, founded in 2009, is an active, volunteer-driven group of residents who care deeply about the quality of life in the community. The group runs a website and a blog and has a presence on Facebook and Twitter. Membership is $5 per year.
Where to shop: Retail and commercial services are located along the traffic corridors surrounding the community. There are no shops within the neighborhood, but “everything you want is within 20 minutes in either direction,” said Tony Britt. “Clothing, eating, housewares. For clubbing, you can go up and down H Street and you can walk there.”
Hechinger Mall on Benning Road has a Safeway, Modell’s Sporting Goods and other stores. Costco is on Market Street NE; Walmart is on New York Avenue; Aldi’s is across the Maryland border in Hyattsville; and Target is on 14th Street NW. Jenks & Son sells hardware on Bladensburg Road.
Living there: The neighborhood is a roughly rectangular-shaped residential community of perpendicular streets framed by busy thoroughfares — West Virginia Avenue, Mount Olivet Road, Bladensburg Road and Florida Avenue. The Gallaudet University campus runs along West Virginia Avenue. The National Arboretum is to the east, and Mount Olivet Cemetery, the largest Catholic cemetery in the District, is to the north.
Trinidad, Zip code 20002, “seems to be enjoying the benefits of being on the fringe of all the new development along the H Street corridor and in NoMa,” said Bivins, the real estate agent.
Three properties are for sale, ranging from a two-bedroom, one-bath condominium for $225,000 to an eight-bedroom, four-bathroom brick Colonial for $449,000 that’s planned for conversion into a three-unit condominium, he said.
Five properties are under contract, ranging from a three-bedroom, two-bathroom semidetached brick house for $220,000 that was auctioned under foreclosure to a four-bedroom, four-bathroom multifamily residence for $489,950.
In the past year, 18 homes sold, ranging from a three-bedroom, four-bathroom contemporary penthouse condominium for $1,099,000 to a two-bedroom, one-bathroom semidetached investment property for $115,000.
Schools: Wheatley Education Campus for pre-kindergarten to eighth grade, Paul Laurence Dunbar High.
Transit: Trinidad is centrally located if you’re driving. Bladensburg and Benning roads and Maryland and Florida avenues encircle the community and lead to U.S. Route 50 and Interstate 395. Street parking is plentiful and flat terrain makes bicycling easy. The closest Metro station is NoMa-Gallaudet University on the Red Line.
Crime: According to crimemap.dc.gov , 27 robberies, 23 assaults, 17 burglaries and one homicide were reported in the past year.