Danielle Schor moved to Tenleytown three and a half years ago because everything she wanted was easily accessible from the neighborhood. The 65-year-old writer isn’t hindered by not having a car. She can walk to one of her favorite restaurants, Seoul Spice, on Wisconsin Avenue to grab lunch or run errands at nearby stores. Whole Foods and the Container Store anchor the commercial district, which includes a hardware store, a pharmacy, coffee shops, hair salons, restaurants and several mom-and-pop businesses.
Because of its amenities, Tenleytown draws people from all ages and backgrounds to its walkable, revitalized main corridor.
“It has all the best things about being a small town with access to all the great things about being in the city,” says Leigh Catherine Miles, a longtime resident and executive director of the nonprofit Tenleytown Main Street.
First developed in the late 18th century at the intersection of River Road and today’s Wisconsin Avenue, Tenleytown is Washington’s second-oldest community. It was named after John Tennally, whose tavern was at its heart. Tennallytown eventually became Tenleytown. The once-rural village served as a home to Union forces protecting Washington in the Civil War before undergoing commercial and residential growth in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when the streetcar connected it to downtown Washington and it began to develop into the bustling area it is today.
Much of the recent business development is supported through the work of Tenleytown Main Street, the community-based nonprofit group founded in 2016 that works to assist local businesses, improve the appearance of the neighborhood, refurbish older storefronts, and increase and plan community events.
Events are hosted almost every month, ranging from discount programs for students and educators, to group fitness classes to Art All Night, a pop-up art gallery, to the Tenley WinterFest, a week-long holiday event featuring a restaurant week and Yeti-themed scavenger hunt, says Miles.
“I’ve been very pleased to hear that things are working, that people are seeing progress,” Miles said. “Things are looking cleaner and fresher, there’s exciting events happening in the neighborhood, [and] there’s new businesses that are coming in.”
More than 100 local residents volunteer annually to support its efforts, a sign of a good relationship with the community, Miles said.
Many residents live here because of the high-quality public schools and neighborhood safety.
Joan LaMon, 76, moved to Tenleytown in 1972 for its affordable housing. Despite the proximity of several private schools, LaMon chose to send her children to the neighborhood public schools, saying that it “gave them an opportunity to meet more people and have more choices.”
Miles, whose son is a fourth-generation Tenleytowner on her husband’s side, loves that her son and other children in the neighborhood feel safe walking to the park. She also appreciates that there’s a wealth of places for them to play.
“The best part of living here is tough to narrow down because there’s so many wonderful things, but it’s the quality of life, the mix of everything you could ever want in a neighborhood,” Miles said.
The Tenley-Friendship Neighborhood Library, which was renovated in 2011, serves as a place for adults and children to learn new things, study for school or just read a book. It has conference rooms, computers and a vegetative green roof.
Tenleytown has a competitive housing market. There are few homes for sale, and those that are often sell in less than seven days on average, according to Simone Velvel, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties, who’s been selling homes in the neighborhood for seven years.
“It’s great for sellers, and very competitive for buyers,” Velvel said. “Buyers are facing multiple offers and escalated prices.”
Velvel recommends that interested buyers write a strong offer with few to no contingencies. She also advises choosing a reputable lender who can deliver a fast closing time and including an escalation clause if there are multiple offers.
Living there: Tenleytown is bounded by Chesapeake Street NW to the north, Nebraska Avenue and 39th Street NW to the east, Van Ness Street to the south and 43rd Street NW to the west.
According to Velvel, 35 homes have sold in Tenleytown in the past year. The lowest-priced was a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo for $380,000. The highest-priced was a six-bedroom, six-bathroom house for just over $2 million.
There are four properties for sale, ranging from a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo for $448,900 to a six-bedroom, six-bathroom house for just under $3 million.
Two new apartment buildings, Frequency Apartments and Tenley View, have opened in the past five years. The average one-bedroom rental price is $2,400 a month.
Schools: Janney Elementary, Alice Deal Middle, and Wilson High.
Transit: The Tenleytown-AU Metro station, in the center of the neighborhood at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Albemarle Street, provides Red Line rail service. Buses also run along Wisconsin Avenue, Nebraska Avenue, Chesapeake Street and Van Ness Street. American University, located just south of the neighborhood, has a shuttle bus service to the main campus, Washington College of Law and the Spring Valley Building.