The Park View community lies in the middle of Northwest Washington, just a quarter of a square mile in area but representative of the wave of change spreading across the city.
“Things change so much here every week,” said Fritz Hubig, a real estate agent with LuxuryDC. “If you blink, you can miss them.”
Gentrification, revitalization, conversion, renovation can make people feel “powerless, fearful, curious, excited,” Petworth artist Nekisha Durrett said in a recent documentary about her mural on a brick exterior wall of the former Mothership Diner on Lamont Street.
“My intention with this artwork was to present the various emotions people feel around this sort of change,” she said. The vibrant color and design are an apt symbol of the community’s esprit de corps.
Controversy over pop-ups: Park View’s character is solidly residential. “After moving here, I found it just takes time to talk to neighbors,” said Kent C. Boese, chairman of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1A and a resident since 2007. “It’s not hard. People look out for each other. It’s kind of like a town within a town.”
Colorful rowhouses stand out in a streetscape similar to that of Adams Morgan and Woodley Park. Sprinkled here and there are small-scale apartment buildings built before the 1958 zoning codes — meaning they wouldn’t be allowed today — as well as pop-ups, renovations, tear-downs, new construction and some vacant lots. “We’re seeing fewer vacant properties,” Boese said. “This is great because it makes more housing options available and helps with safety.”
“Pop-ups are one of the challenges we’re facing,” Boese said. “They change the character of a street, and many are incongruous with their surrounding neighborhood. There are members of the community that support them and others that want to stop them. Ultimately, we need to find a reasonable middle ground.”
“Pop-ups I consider successful have some degree of design compatibility,” Boese continued. “Developers’ property rights are as important as homeowners’ rights in abutting structures. In well-
established rowhouse neighborhoods, this is particularly complex to balance. Our approach really should focus on how they’re developed rather than viewing them as a yes-or-no proposition.”
Developers are increasingly interested in Park View. “I get offers in my mailbox almost weekly,” Boese said.
Some developers prey on the less knowledgeable, especially seniors, said Romeo Morgan, president of the Georgia Avenue Business Alliance and owner of Morgan’s Seafood at Georgia Avenue and Kenyon Street. “They offer cash, $250,000, for a rowhouse and then turn it around and sell the next week for $495,000,” Morgan said.
Affordable housing, especially for older folks, is a priority for him. Morgan said he wouldn’t sell his property but would develop it himself to ensure his preferred outcome.
Then and now: Four local properties are listed on the National Register of Historic Places — Park View School, built in 1916 in the Tudor Gothic style; Park View Playground, because it’s associated with the drive to end segregation in D.C. playgrounds; Park View Christian Church, constructed in 1905 and renovated in 1920; and the Fourth District police substation on Park Road, built in 1905. “The substation is great resource to us,” Boese said.
“Georgia Avenue can seem a little disheveled and rough — there are still a number of vacant and boarded-up properties — but if you’re familiar with the streets it’s not,” Boese said. “Five to seven years ago we didn’t have many eateries, but that’s changed, and now there are popular hangouts.”
For example: the Looking Glass Lounge, DC Reynolds, Fish in the Neighborhood, Woodland’s Vegan Bistro, Harrar Coffee & Roastery, and Bravo Bar. For grocery shopping, there are several choices in nearby Petworth and Columbia Heights: the renovated Safeway at 3830 Georgia Ave., the Giant Food at 1345 Park Rd. and the Yes Organic Market at 4100 Georgia Ave. And, Boese said, “you can walk to Target on 14th Street.”
Living there: Park View covers approximately 154 acres in Zip code 20010 and is surrounded by Columbia Heights, Petworth and Howard University. It’s bordered roughly by Sherman Street and New Hampshire Avenue 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.
“Buyers are drawn to the area because of the relative value when compared to the other Green Line Metro-connected neighborhoods of Columbia Heights and U Street,” said Phil Di Ruggiero, co-founder of GreenLine Real Estate.
Housing types include single-family, rowhouses, rentals and condos. Fourteen properties are for sale, ranging from a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condominium unit for $315,000 to a four-bedroom, four-bath single-family house for $799,900.
Fifteen properties are under contract, ranging from a $230,000 two-bedroom, one-bathroom condo to a $800,000 seven-bedroom, three-bathroom house.
Ninety homes sold in the past year, from a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo for $231,000 to a four-bedroom, three-bath house for $920,000.
Schools: Bruce-Monroe Elementary @ Park View, Columbia Heights Middle and Roosevelt High.
Transit: New residents are attracted to the neighborhood’s walkability, said Boese, and it is bookended by the Georgia Avenue-Petworth and Columbia Heights stations on Metro’s Green and Yellow lines. “There’s no place here where you’re more than a 15-minute walk to the Metro,” he said. And Metrobus has extensive service along Georgia Avenue.
Crime: According to the D.C. police, there were two homicides, 26 assaults with a dangerous weapon, 32 robberies and 46 burglaries in the past year.
Audrey Hoffer is a freelance writer.