When Jason Story and his wife, Carolina Gomez, opened Three Little Pigs Charcuterie & Salumi in the Northwest Washington neighborhood of Brightwood Park, they figured most of their business would come from destination shoppers — foodies from Baltimore or Alexandria in the city for a day.
Three years later, Story said the shop serves almost exclusively local residents who have made it a gathering place for the rapidly growing community.
“It’s really the people who live in this neighborhood coming once or twice a week who keep us busy,” said Story, 30. “We know most of the people who come in on a first-name basis.”
Three Little Pigs is one of many recent additions to Brightwood Park and the surrounding area. To the north is Brightwood, with a new Wal-Mart and Safeway. To the south is Petworth, whose Metro station has attracted a flurry of development.
The D.C. government has invested in the neighborhood, too — Emery Recreation Center also recently got a facelift, with an improved playground for local children.
And Three Little Pigs received a $62,500 grant from the Great Streets Initiative to renovate the shop.
Story said he’s noticed more and more young families moving in to Brightwood Park’s signature 1920s-era rowhouses as the neighborhood grows. “We see a lot of young families, and a lot of highly educated people who know enough to move in where real estate is cheap,” he said.
Newcomers and long-timers: In addition to the newcomers, Brightwood Park has a diverse group of people who have lived there for many years.
Roger Limoges, 39, a vice president at the U.S. Green Building Council, said he was attracted to Brightwood Park in part by a large pool of longtime residents, who he said lend the neighborhood a sense of stability.
“It’s a really diverse community, and living so close together in these rowhouses, there are lots of opportunities to engage with your neighbors,” said Limoges, who is also vice president of the Brightwood Park Citizens Association. “When you talk to the longtime residents, people are just really looking for the neighborhood to keep improving but not lose its history.”
Input from neighbors: There’s more change ahead for the neighborhood in the form of the redevelopment of the nearby Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Current plans call for a mix of residential, retail and office space on the massive swath of land along Georgia Avenue.
Residents formed the citizens association about a year ago to keep neighbors in the loop about development.
“The goal is to give residents a voice on major changes, like the new Wal-Mart that came in recently,” Limoges said. “We don’t want residents to feel like a building came in from nowhere, and that nobody was listening to their concerns about it.”
Limoges said the group has also worked with the city on maintenance issues.
“It feels like there are more services now,” Limoges said. “The street cleaning gets done, and the trash is handled better. There’s a sense that people are taking ownership of this neighborhood.”
Living there: The borders are Missouri Avenue to the north, New Hampshire Avenue to the east, Emerson Street to the south and Georgia Avenue to the west.
Limoges said he was also attracted by affordability — he could get more house for his money compared with neighborhoods closer to downtown Washington.
In the past 12 months, 150 homes sold, said Charlene Farrar of Keller Williams, with prices from $211,000 to $680,000, and 21 are listed, from $410,000 to $659,900.
Transit: Residents have access to multiple bus lines, and the Georgia Avenue-Petworth Metro station is about a 20-minute walk away.
Schools: Most neighborhood children are zoned to attend Truesdell Education Campus and Roosevelt High School.
Crime: In the past 12 months, D.C. police reported one homicide, 67 robberies and 67 burglaries in the neighborhood.
Story said he still sees litter and graffiti, but less frequently than before.
“We need the people moving in to take pride in the neighborhood and make things a little better every time they get the chance,” Story said. “If we see litter on the sidewalks, we have to pick it up. If we see graffiti, we have to clean it off. This place is like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree — all it needs is a little love.”
Amy Reinink is a freelance writer.