When John and Maggie Sorrenti were looking to buy their first home in the Washington area, they wanted to live in the District, be able to walk to many places and be close to the Metro.
The rowhouse with a back yard in the North Capitol neighborhood more than satisfied their needs. "We wanted something in our price budget," said Maggie Sorrenti, 32, a lawyer with the federal government. The bonuses? Other young families and restaurants nearby.
When the Sorrentis moved to North Capitol in 2013, it was just the two of them, but their family has grown to include their son, who turns 3 in December, and daughter, 4½ months. "What attracted us is that it has this neighborhood feel in the middle of the city," Maggie Sorrenti said. "We were able to get a house with a yard. There are so many families around — newborns and toddlers. You really get a community feeling. You can walk everywhere, except on big grocery runs, when we drive," she said.
She enjoys seeing people she knows at the playgrounds and the farmers market Sundays in front of Big Bear Cafe, 1700 First St. NW, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Another appeal is nearby Harry Thomas Sr. Recreation Center at 1743 Lincoln Rd. NE, outside the boundaries. Part of the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, it has a playground, outdoor pool, tennis and basketball courts, and a ballfield.
John Sorrenti, 37, recalls finding their house in the beginning of 2013 and competing for it against another couple. "We were able to beat them out," he said. "We were looking all over the city, we wanted outdoor space, and we also had a budget." He first moved to Washington in 2007 to attend law school and lived in a couple of other neighborhoods before he and Maggie met, married and began searching for a house together.
Both he and Maggie walk to their offices, and also ride their bikes.
More affordable: North Capitol is situated between New York Avenue NW and Rhode Island Avenue NW, mostly between First Street NW and North Capitol Street NW.
The North Capitol neighborhood includes parts of areas known as East Shaw, Truxton Circle, Dunbar Shaw, Bates and Bloomingdale.
Kyle Thomas moved into the neighborhood in 2011, eager to buy his first home. "I wanted to own a property, and no way was it affordable in Logan Circle," Thomas, 33, president of the Bates Area Civic Association, said. Though he can walk to work downtown in the District, he finds himself staying closer to home on weekends. "I stay in the neighborhood because everything I need is right here," he said.
He lives in a two-level rowhouse, and, he, too, appreciates the neighborhood feel of the area. Yet he has no illusions about the changes that are likely to occur. "The development and the rapid pace of change is pushing west, and development from NoMa is pushing east," he said, while walking around the neighborhood on a rainy morning in August.
"We're about to get squished in the middle."
Thomas, who grew up on an Iowa farm, says he hears a range of opinions about the neighborhood at the civic association meetings and encourages everyone who wants to participate to speak. "We all want a safe, livable and affordable neighborhood, but how you get there everyone defines differently," he said. Concerns are, for example, whether new housing will be at market rate or affordable, parking and how an empty lot will be developed.
North Capitol Street NW is the main artery that runs north to south in the neighborhood, and is in the midst of change. North Capitol Main Street Inc., a nonprofit corporation founded in 2003, aims to catalyze commercial revitalization in the neighborhood.
Funded by the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development, North Capitol Main Street has spearheaded a number of activities in the area, including Taste of North Capitol in June, featuring live entertainment, music and food from area restaurants. Art All Night, a citywide arts festival scheduled for Sept. 23, will showcase photography, paintings, sculpture and jewelry in pop-up galleries. North Capitol is one of six "main streets" scheduled to participate.
North Capitol Street NW is home to a number of popular retailers, including Uncle Chip's Cookies at 1514 North Capitol St. NW. Cookies, brownies and muffins are baked on the premises, and the cafe offers sandwiches as well.
The Sorrentis say they hope to stay in the neighborhood but are concerned about whether the schools will meet their expectations. "We would love to stay," Maggie Sorrenti said. "Education is a big priority for us. I wish we had better schools that are close by."
She likes Mundo Verde Bilingual Public Charter School, located in the neighborhood at 30 P St., NW. Admission depends on the lottery.
Living there: Bounded roughly by New York Avenue NW to the south, First Avenue NW to the west, Rhode Island Avenue to the north and North Capitol Street NW to the east, the neighborhood also juts over to Second Street NW to the west just above Florida Avenue NW.
According to Suzanne Des Marais, a real estate agent with Compass, in the past 12 months, 59 residential real estate properties have sold, ranging from a one-bedroom, one-bath condominium for $180,000 in a building dating to 1925 to a five-bedroom, four-bath renovated 1909 attached rowhouse for $1.29 million.
There are 17 residential properties on the market, ranging from a one-bedroom, one-bath condo listed for $325,000 to a four-bedroom, four-bath renovated 1895 rowhouse listed for $1.3 million.
Transit: North Capitol is about equidistant from Mount Vernon Square/Seventh Street-Convention Center on the Green and Yellow lines and NoMa-Gallaudet University-New York Avenue on the Red line. Metro buses also serve the area.
Schools: Walker-Jones Education Campus (elementary and middle), Mundo Verde Bilingual Public Charter School, Dunbar High.
Crime: According to the Metropolitan Police Crime Map, in the past year, reported crimes included one homicide, 13 aggravated assaults, 11 robberies and 30 burglaries.