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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Mailbag: Should I Worry About Slow Development?

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Seriously, H Street is blossoming 

 A reader writes in with the following concern:

 Hi, I am moving to the H Street NE neighborhood in a few months, and am pretty excited about all of the development I read on your blog and others. Except I see a lot of articles about plans that were finalized nearly two years ago (like H Street Connection and the Maia) that haven't started development yet. So, I am wondering if we have turned the corner and development is expected in the coming months, or whether you think it will take a lot longer for H Street to reach its potential.
M.


My response after the jump.


Dear M.,

I think your question is maybe even more complicated than what you may have intended. I don't know exactly it means for H Street to reach its potential. There area is changing and evolving all the time. Do I worry about the fact that some large projects have not yet broken ground? No. We have major residential and commercial development coming on line right now, as well as in the coming months. The Flats at Atlas District are an excellent example. You have some very high-end residential units on the eastern end of the corridor, which are renting, even pre-streetcar 360˚ H Street is on the far western end and it'll bring residential units, with a major grocery store as an anchor. The plans for the Maia changed recently, and the new version has almost twice as many units as called for in the original plan.

I think the H Street Corridor is heading in the right direction overall. I would point to the fact that we are now seeing more development on the western end, and in the blocks between the 400 block and the 1200 block. For quite a while we had a bit of a dead zone problem, but that's changing quickly. We're also seeing more serious restaurants popping up along the Corridor. To name just a few, we have: the Atlas Room, Boundary Road, Smith Commons,  Ethiopic, and Toki Underground.  All of these places serve great food, and draw in patrons from far outside the neighborhood.

I know that a lot of people are concerned that the newer development on H Street focuses too heavily on the entertainment aspect, and isn't bringing in enough new retail. Retail is coming. We've finally got a nice bike shop in the Daily Rider. Hunted House (510 H Street) recently opened, and they offer some very nice mid-century modern furniture. C.A.T. Walk Boutique is moving from the 1400 block to the 500 block (a much better location for retail, I think). Metro Mutts has done well enough to open a second location.

I think we're headed in the right direction. I'll be interested to read the thoughts of others on the topic.


46 comments:

Anonymous said...

I recently moved out of the neighborhood after living there for four years. I can see why the reader asked the question. When you are in the neighborhood and you hear about a new addition that will add something to the neighborhood that you value or take out an older problem than you do not (like the new development at 4th and I), you want it to happen immediately. You don't understand why it doesn't break ground tomorrow.

But if you look at it in the grander scope of things, like I did after I moved, you will see that you don't have to worry about the neighborhood. First off, it is great as it is. Yes, I want some of the problem children businesses gone. I wanted more retail. But the neighborhood is already fun and I had great neighbors. But, looking at what has happened over the last four years has been amazing. Just think what has happened in the worst economic climate in the past 60 years. This neighborhood still had massive growth. So, will some project fall through? Sure, but once the property is in the hands of developers who actually want to develop it, something will happen. If they can't get it done, they will sell the property and someone else will.

So, I guess I would say, enjoy the neighborhood now, as it is, before you can't find parking and you are complaining that all the chain stores are moving in. NE is happening.

Kingman Park Res said...

Yes, H street is great and buying in the area does offer the upside of having growth potential and thus increased residential property values. Respectfully, your comment comes off sounding like is "hi, i like bought near H street, cuz like totally I want my home value to totally like go way up!"

This recession has taught us nothing if we go into home ownership with the intent of it being a profitable venture. Secondly, the neighborhood is already awesome and so are its current residents/businesses. Your purchase is safe and sound if you bought with the intention of having nice abode in a neighborhood with a great sense of community and lots of great amenities.

ipich rtecoved said...

Does anyone know where things stand with these projects?
1. The H Street Connection (strip mall)
2. Old library site at 13th & H
3. Autozone

Anonymous said...

1. Rumor is that the owners are holding on to property. no development anytime soon.

2. Will be auctioned off to highest bidder (developer) by the dc government. Mixed use building with condos and retail at bottom.

3. Autozone retains a remaining 4 year lease before Westmill develops...

http://www.westmillcapital.com/

Anonymous said...

U Street 10-15 years ago is H street 5 years ago....there is your analogy...we are still 5 years away from seeing the full spectrum of development

Anonymous said...

Is there any timeframe on #2, the library site?

RPW said...

I think Kingman Park Res pretty much nailed it.

I think it's wrong headed to root for the area to go in the direction of Columbia Heights or Adams Morgan, and I am wary of all these overpriced condo/apartment projects. Development is nice but it can have a tendency of sucking all the life and character out of a neighborhood.

Ipich -

1. H Street Connection is still a long way off with expected delivery mid 2015. Based on that I'd expect construction to begin mid to late 2013. But that's best case scenario.

3. This will be a while as Autozone's lease goes for a while (2017 maybe?) I also get the sense that Westmill is a bit rudderless so who knows.

Derek said...

@ipich - The H St Connection is owned by Rappaport and they are waiting for the street cars to begin to run first. At least that is what they told me during a recent visit. I'm guessing around 2015.
Plus they have the right to terminate the tenants to begin construction and the 7-11 is a maybe if they will be included or not.

Hillman said...

Any chance of a petition to ask Autozone national headquarters to release the land earlier?

That Autozone has been a terrible neighbor for pretty much forever.

Never shoveling their sidewalks after snow. Towing people for parking in their lot after hours, denying the neighborhood a much needed parking area.

Allowing all kinds of crappy auto work to be done on premises, with the accompanying dumping of oil, etc.,

All this after they got a sweetheart back-room deal as part of the first wave of 'revitalization' so they would be there in the first place.

Subsidized by DC taxpayer dollars.

h-street resident said...

A good comparison would be the Yards Park area SE. The condo and townhouse development in that area is happening at a breakneck speed. Not much in terms of nightlife or retail however, definitely a lot more property development. Perhaps due to all the funding coming from DC Government. I am only speculating. Perhaps someone could shed a light on the discrepancy.

dave b said...

Yards Park vs H St:

I think one of the main differences is the scale of the projects and what they were replacing. Prior to development, I think Near SE was a bit more of a blank canvas or had large parcels owned by one person.

It will be harder to coordinate big deals on H St because I think there are more parties in play and potentially some of the incumbents might think they could have a future on H St as well.

At Yards park if you owned a night club, you might not see a future for yourself and your land probably fetched a higher price because those Near SE developments are 10+ stories. The developers' increased revenue could absord a higher price.

I'm not sure what the land value is on H St vs Near SE is, but I would suspect Near SE is higher just because you can build 10+ stories down there vs ~5 stories here. It is easier to make people move out of the way if you can offer them twice the amount of money

Anonymous said...

Inked, it is very thoughtful of you to respond to this email. You do the neighborhood a great service by writing this blog, but responding to random emails from potential residents really does go above and beyond. Thank you for providing the neighborhood, and your neighbors this forum to learn about and discuss the changes in our neighborhood.

inked said...

12:18,
I try to respond to emails like this one. Often I just do it via email. But some questions seem like they could work well on the blog, and every once in a while I throw one up as a post if the writer does not object.

Anonymous said...

Slow Development? Walk down H Street today and count how many liquor licenses hang in places that will soon be opened. At LEAST 5! They say it's the new U street, but personally I feel much safer on H St. H St will take more time to come around because there are more blocks. I lived in Arlington for some time and none of my neighbors ever talked let alone said hello to me, but my neighbors around H St are some of the nicest people I've ever met.

heyktb said...

I agree with anon 12:42. We escaped from the VA burbs last year, complete with its cul de sacs to nowhere, cookie cutter houses, anal retentive neighborhood associations and parades of minivans, and have never looked back. our neighbors here are great, both the new and long term residents. the development of shops and more restaurants will happen in due time. But our neighborhood is pretty great NOW.

Trinidaddy said...

I think it takes some time to appreciate just how fast this area is changing. I moved here in 2010 and I barely recognize the 3 blocks of H, 11th to 14th. The pace of development is nothing short of astounding. I'm trying to enjoy it as much as I can now because I guarantee you it will be even less recognizeable next year and(probably)less likeable.

Derek said...

@anon 12:42 - I did a brief survey of the development on H St last Dec. There was nearly 40 permits, ABA postings, or construction happening between the 300 - 1500 blocks of H Street.

A lot is going on in a small area.

Kim Kardashian said...

We will know we have really arrived when we get luxurious pay toilets on H Street!

East_H said...

Similar comment to Trinidaddy. You will never see an area develop/revitalize faster than H Street is right now. What's that Shin's lyric, "The years are fast but the days are long." That describes H right now to me-- on the day to day, it sometimes feels like things are moving slowly. But stepping back and appreciating what has happened in the last 2 years alone, it's absolutely breakneck speed.

Anonymous said...

I'd be curious to hear from a real estate expert on housing values in the neighborhood. I bought just off H St. 5 years ago, paid $450K and my neighbor's house just sold for $700K.

Anonymous said...

I moved to the H St. area in 2003 - it is astonishing how far we've come in 9 years. I know all of you have heard the stories, but the momentum on H St. just keeps increasing. I remember when I met Joe Englert when he first opened the Argonaut. He said "stick around, you're not going to recognize H St. in 10 years". And I thought, "whatever dude"; H Street was so bad I couldn't even envision what he was talking about. So my advice is to stick around, move here, you're not going to recognize H St. in 10 years.

andrew said...

Things are almost developing a bit too quickly. Rents and housing prices are skyrocketing, and any new housing that's being built is incredibly expensive.

My lease ends next month, and I'm being forced to move out of the neighborhood because I simply can't afford anything on the market right now.

It's a pity, because I really do like it here. I'm not sure if a "fully developed potential" is something that I'm actually looking forward to. The lower rents on H St have allowed some really inventive new businesses to set up shop on H St, and the U St area is quickly beginning to feel bland bland bland. H Street is already pretty great as it is, even with the gaps.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:01,

I owned my home a little under 4 years and sold it a few weeks ago. The value increased by 20 percent.

beauty supplies adelaide said...

Hi, Worrying will take you nowhere. It's like sitting on a rocking chair. No matter how hard you try, you're not getting anywhere.

Anonymous said...

If you're looking to buy immidiately north or south of H, forget it, expect to pay a premium. But there are some bargains out there in Trinidad/Carver. If you're like most people and cannot afford a $650k+ row house, there are bargains to be found in those areas still. But once the Trolly arrives and development moves along up Bladensburg, that area will start to see higher prices.

Anonymous said...

About 3 years ago we put an offer in on a house in a PRIME location off of H, and it got accepted. The deal fell through after an awful inspection, and we ended up buying a house in the Mount Vernon Square/Shaw neighborhood. That was closer to a metro, had that nice Safeway nearby, etc.

I ended up moving out and selling my share a couple years ago, and moving back to H. The Mount Vernon Square neighborhood was stable but not seeing as much development as H did, and H actually felt much safer than that area. It is starting to pick up over there now, but hindsight being 20/20, at this point I wish we had bought on H...ESPECIALLY considering we could have had backyard parking.

Just my 2-cents.

Rayful Edmond said...

I'm probably an outlier, but I purchased my home in 2010 for $270k. Rehabbed the entire house for $70k. Just received an appraisal...came in at $500k.

Last four sales on my block went for over $500k. One of which went for $560k, $40k over list.

H Vegas said...

I would venture to say Trinidad is one of the places where you can get the best value for your money in DC right now.

Anonymous said...

Better deals to be had near RIA metro.

H Street Landlord said...

Good post @ Andrew.

@heyktb - you haven't seen NIMBYism until you've seen the Capitol Hill and Dupont/Logan Circle folks. Burbs got nothing on 'em. I've seen some recently on this blog also, specifically concentrated on 600 to 800 blocks of H Street. Very, very sad to see.

H Vegas said...

anon 10:47

I'm saying "one of the..." So,yes, probably better "deals" near Rhode Island Ave metro but as far as "value for my money", I'm factoring in development that has already taken place and an area I'd already like to be around.

So I'll agree with you, if you don't have a lot of money (relative term when it comes to DC real estate) you can probably buy more on RIA, but right now I feel like Trinidad is a pocket and extension of Capitol Hill and the New York Avenue metro redevelopment, whereas RIA is its own little in-between spot right now...not quite connected to Eckington, LeDroit, Brookland, or anywhere else. Trust me, I'd love to see that whole area do well and I commend anyone who moves there.

Anonymous said...

@ rayful edmond,

I'm with you. I bought my place in 2008 (brand new, no rehab)for $300k and 2 years ago it appraised for a little under $400k. Though the places on my block are now selling for well over the $450's now.

AndTobago said...

I'll add that Trinidad is where it's at, for affordable and decent housing. But the reliability factor is quickly disappearing so act now!!

Anonymous said...

Rosedale has the best value for money right now, but Trinidad is close.

JL said...

@rayful,
Which block are you talking about? Obviously not in Trinidad..

Anonymous said...

I think the ladies of C.A.T. Walk Boutique are moving to the 1000 block. And if rumors are correct, they'll be open tomorrow in the new location.

inked said...

4:11,
I had heard 500 block, but that might not be accurate. Do you have an exact address?

Anonymous said...

@ inked,
I don't know the exact address but it's right on the corner of 10th and H...across from George's, in the old plumbing shop.

If it isn't C.A.T. Walk then it's some other retail business. And opening very, very soon. They've been working non-stop.

inked said...

Interesting...

big chief said...

i have to second that Rosedale is prob the best buy for your money right now and will continue to be so for the forseeable future. and a great neighborhood with lots of characterr and a newly rehabbed rec center. love you Rosedale!

Anonymous said...

Slow? Hardly. Even the fact that the Costco and Walmart are going in right up Bladensburg is evidence that the whole area is developing rapidly. That Costco is set to open in November! H Street is moving right along too - I'd like to see more development up Bladensburg. Any word on what's going to happen where the diner used to be?

Anonymous said...

I heard DC plans on putting in an in-patient meth clinic at the diner location. Anyone have any details?

Anonymous said...

costco on bladensburg?? News to me..where can I find info on that?

Anonymous said...

I think Costco is going in off Bladensburg once you cross over 50/New York Avenue, in the new huge Dakota Crossing they are doing demo and construction on right now. The Wal Mart is supposed to go in at New York and Bladensburg.

Trinidaddy said...

costco is on new york and south dakota, along with a shoppers.

Elizabeth said...

I've lived in the neighborhood for 11 1/2 years. The first few were a little exciting in the wrong way, but I've always believed in H Street's potential. It's been so much fun to watch it develop, particularly in the past 5 years. I don't love every single development, of course, but overall, it's been tremendous. The only way I'm leaving is if I actually move out of the DMV, and I don't have any plans for that any time soon.