When Uchenna Evans, 34, was ready to buy a house in 2010, she looked in Lamond Riggs, a Northeast Washington neighborhood near the Fort Totten Metro station, not far from the Maryland border.
She bought a semi-detached house, sharing one wall with a neighbor, half a block from the Metro.
“It reminded me of the neighborhood back home in Los Angeles — Gardena, California,” Evans said.
Evans knew and liked the neighborhood. She had lived in Northeast as an intern during college and law school. She prefers walking to driving. “I lived in Harlem after college. I was used to walking everywhere, and I wanted that lifestyle again. That’s why I sold my car.”
Evans relies on an 11-minute Metro ride to Judiciary Square on the Red Line, for a 30-minute door-to-door commute to work. “It works for me right now,” she said. “I don’t have children. I am single.”
Evans is among the growing number of younger residents moving into Lamond Riggs, a stable middle-class neighborhood where many of the residents have lived since the mid-1950s and have the keys to their neighbors’ homes.
“Neighbors stop and say hello and ask my name and how I’m doing,” Evans said. “They kind of look out for me.”
History repeats itself: When Lawrence Martin, 94, bought the three-bedroom brick house and moved in with his wife and daughter in 1958, “the community was in transition,” Martin said. “I saw in the house potential.”
It was well after the 1948 Supreme Court ruling that found restrictive covenants based on race or color to be unconstitutional. Just as Martin, a retired vice principal of Woodrow Wilson High School, witnessed a neighborhood transition in the 1950s, the neighborhood is in the midst of change again.
“In the past five to 10 years, we’ve seen a growth in the number of younger residents and diversity,” said Gwen Cofield, a past co-chairman of the Lamond Riggs Citizens Association’s development task force. The community is “now more diverse, age-wise and racially,” she said. “The demographic is younger people, young families, Hispanics, white professionals.” African Americans still make up the largest percentage of the population.
More recently, developers have become interested in Lamond Riggs.
In the past five years, the biggest change is “the development,” said Barbara Rogers, president of the Lamond Riggs Citizens Association, established in 1948.
Fort Totten Square, a mixed-use development near the Fort Totten Metro station, is nearing completion. It will include 345 rental apartments as well as street-level retail. Leases have been signed for urban-format Wal-Mart with a full-service grocery and pharmacy, a Subway, and a Five Guys, as well as two more retailers are to be announced. It is a partnership between JBG, JBGR and Lowe Enterprises.
The amenities for the apartments, where leasing has begun, include a yoga room, fitness center, club room and two-tiered swimming pool. The Wal-Mart is expected to open in the fall, according to Anthony Greenberg, principal with JBG Cos.
A second mixed-use development is Art Place at Fort Totten, which is expected to include retail and 520 rental apartments including 141 income-restricted units for displaced residents who had lived in the Riggs Plaza Apartments. This initial phase, which is under construction now, will include XSport Fitness, a health club, which has signed a lease. Residential and retail tenants are expected to move in early 2017. The owner and developer is the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation.
More shops needed: When homes come up for sale — whether single family or semi-detached — a new generation is interested. “There is a lot of changeover happening,” said Evans, who writes a blog called “Next Stop . . . Riggs Park,” which covers Riggs Park, the surrounding Fort Totten communities and the District.
For some, part of the attraction of Lamond Riggs is that it is in flux. “The coolest thing is it’s a neighborhood in transition,” said Efua Obeng, 30, an assistant professor of marketing at the Howard University School of Business.
While there is a Giant Food store just across the Maryland state line, new residents and others are eager for more services including restaurants, a coffee bar and upscale retail stores other than mom-and-pop stores. “There isn’t a lot of development around here now,” said Obeng. “It will become attractive to developers,” which she believes will increase property values. From a financial standpoint, Obeng found buying in Lamond Riggs last November “was better than renting,” she said.
Living there: Lamond Riggs is bordered roughly by Eastern Avenue to the northeast, Galloway Street and Riggs Road to the south, Blair Road to the west, and Kansas Avenue to the northwest.
During the past 12 months, 88 homes have sold in the area, according to Tanya Slade, senior real estate specialist with Long & Foster. They range from a two-bedroom, one-bathroom semi-detached house for $223,500 to a four-bedroom, three-bath “green” home for $640,000, Slade said.
Seven properties are on the market, ranging from a two-bedroom, one-bath semi-detached home for $319,900 to a three-bedroom, three-bath semi-detached for $499,000.
Schools: LaSalle-Backus Education campus, Sela Public Charter School, Shining Stars Montessori Academy, Image Hope Community Charter , Ideal Public Charter, Capital City Public Charter and Coolidge High.
Transit: The area is served by the Fort Totten Metro station on the Red, Green and Yellow lines as well as the K6, E2, E3 and E4 Metrobus lines.
Crime: This year through mid-June, according to D.C. police, eight assaults with a dangerous weapon, 12 robberies and 10 burglaries were reported in the area.
Harriet Edleson is a freelance writer.