When Anju Thomas and Chika Duru, newly married, were looking for a place to call home, they agreed to live in the District in a neighborhood where they could enjoy walking around and have easy access to transportation and attractions.
Mount Vernon Triangle more than met their needs and interests, and they decided to rent in the neighborhood starting in October.
"This area is so central to everything," said Thomas, 37, a software consultant who travels weekly for business. She and Duru, 36, an attorney, like the access to fitness centers, restaurants and Metro as well as Reagan National Airport. "There are so many restaurants and things to do that you can walk to, so it's easy and convenient," Thomas said.
Duru, who has lived in the District for 14 years in the U Street area, Shaw, Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan, wanted to stay in the city.
Thomas was more than willing to leave Pentagon City for Mount Vernon Triangle. "There wasn't a weekend where I wasn't coming into D.C.," she said. "This is my favorite part of D.C. People are very friendly around here." They attend basketball games at nearby Capital One Arena and enjoy hotel lounges in Penn Quarter, all within walking distance of where they live.
Coming up: Mount Vernon Triangle melds the old and the new, residential and commercial, condominiums and apartments. According to the Mount Vernon Triangle Community Improvement District, more than 5,000 people live in the area.
"What we've created here is carefully coordinated, thoughtfully planned — a true mixed-use community," said Kenyattah A. Robinson, president and chief executive of the Mount Vernon Triangle Community Improvement District since March 2016.
Robinson ought to know. Having lived in the area since 2008, he understands the intricacies of an evolving neighborhood where parking lots and some historic buildings previously dominated.
Robinson, who came to Washington in 1999 to work for then-Sen. John Breaux (D-La.), later left for business school at Cornell in 2004, returning to the District in 2006. While working at the real estate services company Jones Lang LaSalle, he got to know Mount Vernon Triangle, and in 2008, he bought a condominium in the neighborhood. While telling his mother in New Orleans about his decision, she commented: "That's a rough area." She was familiar with it because she had attended meetings at Department of Homeland Security offices there from time to time. "No mom, it's coming up," he said he told her.
Indeed, change had been in the wind since 2002, when a public-private partnership began to lay the groundwork to redevelop 30 acres of land in Mount Vernon Triangle. The Mount Vernon Triangle Action Agenda aimed to be a "framework for a vibrant new residential and mixed-use neighborhood."
In 2008, it was "a place I could reasonably afford," Robinson said. "It was close to everything, and near my job." Two years later, Robinson met his wife, Marnique Heath Robinson, an architect, at a fundraiser, and they married in 2015. These days, the couple and their three-month-old son, Markus, live in a larger condominium in the same building.
"The neighborhood was that compelling," Robinson said. "We find it so hard to move out of the neighborhood. Everything we need is just right here."
Newcomers to the area: A variety of restaurants, coffeehouses and bars dot the neighborhood. Some people who have moved to Mount Vernon Triangle in the last year or two rent; others buy. Some bought after the Great Recession of 2008, enabling them to purchase when residential real estate prices had dipped.
The area also attracts young newcomers to the District. For James Cohen, 28, living in Mount Vernon Triangle means a five-minute bike ride or a 10-minute walk to work. When he and his girlfriend Jaclyn Talon, 26, were looking at neighborhoods in the District, they immediately liked Mount Vernon Triangle.
"It's surprisingly relaxed for being in such a built-up area," Cohen said.
They were looking for "something urban but with a neighborhood feel," he said. "It's a really clean area, especially for a city."
They also liked that the building they live in kept some of the original warehouse architecture, a reminder of the change the area has undergone in the past decade or so. "It's a very friendly vibe," Cohen said.
Talon drives to her job as a yoga instructor in Arlington. Both she and Cohen also enjoy the proximity to the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue, 600 I St. NW, just outside the neighborhood's boundaries.
Within Mount Vernon Triangle is the Mount Vernon Triangle Historic District, dating from 1869 to 1946. Designated as a historic district in 2006, the Mount Vernon Triangle Historic District includes 24 residential, commercial and light-industrial buildings, according to the National Register of Historic Places. These buildings represent various architectural styles, including Italianate influences in the earliest buildings and a Queen Anne influence in later ones. The buildings from the early 20th century reflect Romanesque Revival style as well as the Colonial and Mediterranean Revival style, according to the Register.
More recent development accelerated in Mount Vernon Triangle with the 2008 opening of City Vista, a mixed-use center combining stores, restaurants and 685 residential units. A 59,000-square-foot Safeway, Busboys and Poets and Fifth Street Ace Hardware are among the retailers. Office buildings abound, with others in the works.
The community improvement district has its own "Clean Team Ambassadors" — seven staffers partially funded by a grant from the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development. They are affiliated with the Ready to Work job training program of Central Union Mission.
With residential and commercial development and rising rents, some residents ultimately leave the neighborhood. They rely on the District of Columbia Housing Authority's Housing Choice Voucher Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Living there: Mount Vernon Triangle is bounded by Massachusetts Avenue to the south, Seventh Street NW to the west, New York Avenue NW to the north and New Jersey Avenue NW to the east. According to Andrew Turczyn, a real estate agent with Slate Properties, 68 properties have sold in the past 12 months, ranging from a studio condominium for $289,000 to a two-bedroom, three-bath condominium for $957,500. There are nine residential properties on the market, ranging from a one-bedroom, one-bath condominium for $349,500 to a two-bedroom, two-bath condominium for $750,000.
Schools: Walker-Jones Education Campus (elementary and middle), Dunbar High.
Transit: Gallery Place-Chinatown on Metro's Red, Yellow and Green lines, and Mount Vernon Square-Seventh Street-Convention Center on the Green and Yellow lines, are equidistant from the neighborhood. Union Station on the Red Line is two blocks from the eastern edge.
Crime: According to the Metropolitan D.C. Crime Map, eight burglaries, 10 robberies and five aggravated assaults were reported in Mount Vernon Triangle in the past 12 months.