16th Street Heights Neighborhood Profile
Yet amid soaring housing demand and ever-increasing interest from developers, longtime residents of 16th Street Heights say it has retained the features that first attracted them: a low-key, friendly enclave where neighbors sit on large porches, and hang out walking their dogs at Hamilton Street Park, the neighborhood’s largest green space.
“My dearest lifelong friends are now in the neighborhood; we raised our kids together,” said Maria Barry, who has lived in multiple homes in 16th Street Heights since 1994. “This community, it feels very intentional and a lot like a village. We are therefore like a village in the city.
The 16th Street Heights neighborhood “contains multitudes”. Sixteenth Street has stately mini-mansions and a handful of embassies overlooking Rock Creek Park on the northwest corner of the area. Georgia Avenue, the region’s eastern border, is a bustling urban thoroughfare, with auto parts stores and Ethiopian and Latin American restaurants. The quieter, shaded side streets feature a mix of townhouses, detached frame homes, and Victorian houses, some of which date back to the early 1900s.
“There’s a house around the corner from my house that was built in 1875,” said Denise Champion, a real estate agent with Long & Foster who has lived in 16th Street Heights for 47 years. “We should be considered historic.”
In its early days, the neighborhood was a favorite spot for downtown residents for weekend and summer homes, Champion said. A few traces of its past remain. The best known are a century-old streetcar and a carriage barn on 14th Street, both now used by subway buses.
The Moreland Tavern and Atxondo tapas restaurant, both of which opened within the last five years, are unofficial neighborhood hangouts. A mural by popular DC artist Rose Jaffe and collaborator Kate Deciccio is a hidden treasure in the Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc. building near 14th Street and Arkansas Avenue. The fraternity tribute celebrates the legacy and history of the historically black sorority, founded at Howard University.
On Farragut Street NW, the freshly renovated John Lewis Elementary School — formerly West Elementary and recently renamed in honor of the late Georgia congressman and civil rights icon — shines in bright primary colors.
Felix Pages moved with his wife, April, to the neighborhood in 2013, five years before their son was born. He said he has already seen how school has had a transformative effect on his environment.
“It’s so beautiful and modern and gorgeous on the inside,” he said. “Suddenly the neighborhood has become a bit more appealing as people flock to this newly built state-of-the-art school.”
Despite the pandemic, neighbors have been working to keep community events going – hosting a socially distanced Easter egg hunt for children in the yards of 15 homes. But many are eager to return to larger gatherings. Cindy Morgan-Jaffe, mother of Rose Jaffe, said she is planning a block party on 14th Street this summer to get to know new neighbors and catch up with old ones.
“There’s been so much turnover and a lot of new young families,” Morgan-Jaffe said. “Most of us haven’t really met or spoken in two years.”
The neighborhood is often listed as one of DC’s most diverse, a quality that is part of its appeal to many residents.
Alberto Rivera, president of the 16th Street Neighborhood Association, said he and his wife, Charlotte, were drawn to the area as buyers about three years ago because it offered bilingual Latin American Montessori education. Bilingual Public Charter School (LAMB PCS) and Powell Elementary. . Originally from Honduras, Rivera said he thinks the area’s diversity will remain a highlight as the neighborhood evolves.
“I really like that there’s this kind of larger historical context, that there’s this mix of different languages and experiences,” he said.
Live there: Neighborhood boundaries vary depending on who you ask. Two local groups, the 16th Street Neighborhood Association and the 16th Street Heights Civic Association, represent smaller areas within what is generally considered the neighborhood. Military Road/Missouri Avenue NW is the northern boundary, 16th Street NW is the western boundary, and Georgia Avenue NW is the eastern boundary. Most consider the angled Arkansas Avenue NW to be the southern boundary, but Champion points out that tax assessments extend the neighborhood farther east along Upshur Street NW. Depending on how you draw the neighborhood, population estimates range up to 70,000.
Over the past 12 months, 32 single-family homes have been sold. The average price was $1.275 million. The cheapest was a three-bedroom bungalow for $840,000; the most expensive was a six-bedroom, six-bathroom Colonial for $1.7 million. Seven properties are currently on the market, including three condominiums — a rare commodity in the area, Champion said. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,725.
Real estate developers and developers, she said, are increasingly interested in 16th Street Heights as southern neighborhoods become “exploited.” They don’t hesitate to knock on doors in the hope of negotiating a robbery. Long-time residents, many of whom are seniors, may be particularly vulnerable to this strategy.
“They may have only paid $40,000 or $50,000 for their house when they bought it 50 or 60 years ago,” Champion said. “So when someone comes and offers them $300,000, they think they’ve won the lottery. But until then, this house… is probably worth $700,000.
Schools: Brightwood Education Campus, John Lewis and Powell Elementary; Ida B. Wells, Deal and McFarland middle; Coolidge and Roosevelt brought up.
Transit: The closest subway stations are Columbia Heights and Georgia Avenue-Petworth on the green and yellow lines; both are about 2.5 miles away. Subways also serve the area.
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