Nearly 46 years ago, the H Street corridor in Northeast Washington, D.C. wasn’t ablaze with funky night clubs, eclectic art galleries or mixed-use lofts. Parts of the street had literally erupted into flames. In the wake Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination on April 4, 1968, protestors took to the street, igniting fires, looting businesses and damaging storefronts.
When the upheaval settled, vacant properties and dismal stretches of urban blight remained on H Street until the mid-2000s. Then, on the heels of the redevelopment of the iconic Atlas Performing Arts Theater, construction on a new streetcar line and the opening of nightlife mainstays like The Argonaut, Smith Commons and the Rock & Roll Hotel—the community began to make some headway. Now, with the DC Streetcar in its final testing phase and an inked lease agreement for a new Whole Foods on H Street between 6th and 7th streets, this corridor has gone from budding urban dwelling to a neighborhood in the throes of a renaissance.
Here is what you should know if you lease out your property on H Street or are looking to buy.
The cat is out of the bag, but there is still opportunity – Like any up-and-coming area with character from a gritty historic past and a promising score of unique dining and entertainment options—H Street was bound to become a bit of a media darling. Opinion columns discuss its gentrification, lifestyle blogs praise its hot spots, Gawker equated it to Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, and President Obama even dined there on his 2012 campaign trail. But no matter how hipster-friendly and en vogue H Street has become, it’s not an over saturated market—demand to live there is still high. This is good news for property owners, as Urban Turf reported that prices for condos, townhouses, and detached homes increased from 2012 to 2013, and the National Association of Realtors projects a 6 percent increase in 2014.
If you already rent out your property, you should look into raising rent to accommodate demand. If you are deciding whether to invest in a property, consider H Street and other areas of NE Washington. As progress continues in the H Street Corridor and the DC Streetcar starts shuttling people from H Street between the metro stops at Union Station and Benning Road, development will spill over into other neighborhoods in the Northeast quadrant like Trinidad, Brookland, Tuxton Circle and Fort Totten.
Keep up with recent developments and advertise a lifestyle – If you are trying to fill a vacancy, remain aware of new businesses and modes of public transportation springing up. The first phase of the DC Streetcar will run from Union Station along H Street to the Benning Road metro stop. This 2.3-mile route will effectively provide H Street residents with an easy, convenient way to access the metro with public transportation. Area residents will not only be able to enjoy a hip, walkable urban lifestyle on H Street, they can go anywhere in D.C without having to take a car or taxi. It’s important to stress local attractions and transportation options in your property listing, so potential tenants understand that they’re new digs come with a highly sought after lifestyle that can include a one-of-a-kind night out at the H Street Country Club, dinner with authentic ethnic cuisine or even just a simple trip to Whole Foods.
The buzz about H Street hasn’t quite reached a fever pitch, but once the streetcar begins service and slated developments start to take shape, demand will rise higher and property prices will increase. Start assessing your rent or consider investing before you miss out on the H Street Revival.