When Namon Powell began searching for a house more than three decades ago, the young father of three was focused on finding a sturdy brick structure that would serve as a place of refuge after his marathon shifts as a District firefighter.
A chance drive through Hillbrook, an established neighborhood in far Northeast Washington, left Powell with a sense that he had hit pay dirt.
The neighborhood was quiet, albeit one surrounded by several “rougher streets,” he said, and the houses in the area were on large lots that reminded him of the suburbs.
Powell settled on a single-family Colonial in Hillbrook and never looked back. And it’s more than the fact that “I paid off my house” that’s kept the retiree grounded in Hillbrook.
“This neighborhood is just such a good place. I sit on my screened-in front porch when the weather is nice and just enjoy a nice breeze,” Powell said.
Darryl Clark, an agent with Century 21 New Millennium, said that many buyers are attracted to Hillbrook because of the relatively large lot sizes and historic homes with prices that are within their reach.
“A $400,000 budget is not going to get you far in neighborhoods like Capitol Hill or along the H Street corridor. But you can get you a good deal at that price point in Hillbrook,” Clark said.
Clark said that the neighborhood’s proximity to public transportation — Hillbrook is less than two miles from three subway stations — is also a major selling point.
“You can just toss your car and hop on the Metro,” he said.
Lots of charm, but fewer amenities: Roxanne Richardson said she grew up in Hillbrook, went away to college, got married and never imagined she’d find her way back to her old neighborhood.
But after her father died in 2003, she said, she couldn’t see renting out the property and didn’t want to part with it permanently. For the past year, she’s been living in her childhood home and said she’s surprised by how comforting the neighborhood feels after so many years away.
“I’ve always loved this area,” said Richardson, who lives in a 90-year-old, three-bedroom, one-bathroom Victorian.
While the feelings of nostalgia are strong, they can’t hide the fact that Hillbrook, which is in the District’s Ward 7, lacks the abundance of amenities, such as restaurants, grocery stores and other retail choices, that residents in wealthier sections of the city might take for granted, Richardson said.
“There’s a grocery store a short drive from my house on Minnesota Avenue, but a lot of stores along that stretch feel inferior,” Richardson said. “I really would like to be able to walk somewhere to get a meal or go grocery shopping and not have to drive all the time. I have to go to Prince George’s County to shop.”
Living there: Hillbrook is bordered by Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue to the north, Division Avenue to the east, Brooks Street to the south and 44th Street to the west.
In the past 12 months, 76 properties have sold in Hillbrook, ranging from a 610-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bathroom condominium for $85,000 to a 2,016-square-foot, five-bedroom, four-bathroom Colonial for $549,000, said Clark, the real estate agent with Century 21 New Millennium.
There are 36 homes for sale in Hillbrook, ranging from a one-bedroom, one-bathroom traditional-style house for $160,000 to a 1,003-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom Colonial for $499,900.
Schools: Aiton Elementary, Kelly Miller Middle and H.D. Woodson High.
Transit: Hillbrook is serviced by the 96, U5, V2, V4, and W4 bus routes. The neighborhood is less than a mile from the Benning Road station on Metro’s Blue Line and is about a mile and a half from the Deanwood and Minnesota Avenue stations on the Orange Line.
Crime: Since January, there have been 59 stolen vehicles, 24 robberies, 21 assaults, 18 burglaries and one homicide reported in the service area that covers Hillbrook, according to D.C. police.