Lisa White, a fourth-generation Washingtonian, took her parents to see the house she planned to buy in Kingman Park in Northeast Washington. She hoped for a smile and approval but ended up with more than that.
“I know this block,” her father said. “My grandparents used to live here.”
“What? Really?” she asked.
“That was a sign for me. I needed to buy in this neighborhood. This was the house for me,” said White, a former member of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission that represents the neighborhood. That was 15 years ago, and she still loves the neighborhood. “It’s a hidden jewel. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
Kingman Park is a roughly triangular-shaped residential enclave — about 60 acres, or 40 square blocks — with the widest leg along Oklahoma Avenue facing RFK Stadium-Armory campus. At the corner of 24th Street and Oklahoma Avenue, one has a sense of space akin to the suburbs.
Kingman Park is a mix of single-family residences, condos and brick rowhouses with porches that are set back from the sidewalk by small yards. Rooflines are straight except for pop-ups here and there.
Rich history: District real estate developer Charles Sager built the community in the late 1920s. He intended to sell to whites, but they didn’t buy.
“So he pulled a salesman’s trick,” said Bob Coomber, a second-term commissioner representing Kingman Park on Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 7D.
In 1930, Sager published a promotional pamphlet “stating in so many words only the finest black families can buy there. He saw a sufficient [African American] market and it worked,” said Coomber.
A close-knit black middle-class community was established and thrived. A few original residents still live there, said Cosby Washington, a 30-year resident with his wife, Shirley, and their sons.
“The neighborhood helped raise our boys [now 29 and 26]. If they did anything, like climb out the window and play on the roof, my neighbors would call. We watched out for each other,” he said.
“Kingman Park was a viable, striving community. We had our own lawyers, doctors, dentists, business owners, professors and jazz club,” he said. “The Langston Golf Course was built for African Americans because we weren’t allowed to play in other clubs,” said Washington.
“A lot of our longtime neighbors are aging out and dying, so this opens up the houses to whites. The neighborhood is changing through gentrification,” he said. “Some people aren’t ready for the change or are afraid of it, but change is sometimes good and is part of life.”
Possible new sports complex: White was a founder of the half-acre community garden. Plot rental is $100 per year, which pays for water, soil and lumber. The Capitol Hill Community Foundation usually provides an annual grant of $1,500 to $2,500.
White also started the monthly Orange Hat walk with local police officers.
The Kingman Park Civic Association and Friends of Kingman Park are resident-member organizations.
The biggest issue concerning Coomber, a resident since 2009 with his wife, Nicole, and children, Tony, 5; Gus, 3; and Cassius and Lucien, 1, is development of the RFK parking lots and Stadium-Armory campus, which total 190 acres.
The property is owned by the National Park Service, leased to the District and operated by EventsDC. A short-term plan to create recreation fields, a food market and waterfront amenities around Kingman and Heritage Islands in the Anacostia River is on the table.
“The key point of interest to Kingman Park is that the amenities be accessible to current residents. We understand aspects will be for more affluent customers, but there has to be a balance so seniors and those with economic challenges can enjoy the space, too,” Coomber said.
The longer-term vision is to bring back Washington’s football team and build a sports-recreation complex and pedestrian bridges connecting the islands to Northeast.
Where to shop: Benning Road offers some services. “It has a way to go, but we’re sure that retail to benefit everyone will come,” said Coomber. “The economic forces of development are overwhelming.”
There are two nearby Safeway supermarkets — one on Maryland Avenue and the other close to Kentucky Avenue. Aldi is on 17th Street. Harris Teeter is on Potomac Avenue. The H Street corridor is rich with restaurants, shops and entertainment venues.
Living there: Kingman Park, Ward 7 and Zip code 20002, is bordered by Benning Road NE on the north, Oklahoma Avenue NE on the east, C Street NE on the south and 15th Street NE on the west.
Justin Tanner, a real estate agent with Re/Max Allegiance, said four properties are for sale, ranging from a three-bedroom, one-bathroom single-family house for $535,000 to a three-bedroom, three-bathroom single-family house for $700,000.
Four properties are under contract, ranging from a one-bedroom, one- bathroom condo for $199,000 to a three-bedroom, four-bathroom single-family house for $599,000.
In the past year, 45 single-family houses sold, ranging from a two-bedroom, one-bathroom house for $155,000 to a three-bedroom, four-bathroom house for $800,000.
Schools: Miner and Maury elementary, Eliot-Hine Middle, Eastern High.
Transit: Streetcars run along H Street and Benning Avenue connecting to the Union Station Metro stop on the Red Line and the Minnesota Avenue Station on the Orange Line. Buses run along H Street, Benning Road and Oklahoma Avenue.
Crime: According to www.crimemap.dc .gov , there were one homicide, 21 assaults, 21 burglaries and 30 robberies in the past year.