Good Deal or Not? Reader Request – How’s The Neighborhood Edition?


This home is located at 59 R Street, NW:

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The flier says:

“Newly Renovated 3 level in Eckington. Large Kitchen with granite counter & cabinet space. The lower level offers a full bath and a fourth bedroom, kitchen, washer/dryer hookup, and separate entrances. Alarm Sytem, Fireplace, Parking with Electric garage opener, skylights.”

More info and a virtual tour found here.

The reader writes:

“Just wondering what people’s thoughts are on this one. It’s pretty close to Trinidad, but looks gorgeous. My husband and I will be moving to DC from TN in the fall and are trying to sort out where the ok neighborhoods are (we live in Memphis, so a certain amount of crime is a given)”

The house itself looks nice but doesn’t seemed to have kept any of the original details. This house is on the market for $599,000. Does that seem like a reasonable price? What are your general impressions of the renovations as well as the location itself?

52 Comment

  • That house is nowhere near Trinidad. That said, it seems super overpriced for the area. And the inside is a snoozefest.

  • Renovations look nice, but $599K seems overpriced to me for that area. It’s certainly “up and coming,” but I think that there’s more development for our neck of the woods in Petworth/CH in the pipeline. It’s a bit of a hike to the metro from there too–not a trek I’d want to make twice a day, rain or shine. It’s not really near Trinidad at all either, more of the Shaw/Eckington/Bloomingdale area.

  • I wouldn’t be caught dead walking anywhere near there. Sorry. So walking to the metro? Or the bus? Are you kidding?

  • As Nichole said, that’s nowhere near Trinidad… It’s kinda at the border of Eckington and Bloomingdale. I think that area is pretty nice — this house right down the block from Big Bear Cafe and the site of the Bloomingdale farmer’s market, which is great.

  • Oh, and per people’s comments about the safety of the walk to the Metro/buses… I would be comfortable walking to and from the Shaw-Howard metro from there, but probably not to the NY Ave/FL Ave metro.

  • OK, OK, OK. hold the hell on here folks.

    first—this house is in bloomingdale. don’t give me that eckington crap. the flier is wrong. sure, bloomingdale is part of the “eckington assessment neighborhood,” but that’s just something thrown together by the office of tax and revenue so they wouldn’t have over 100 neighborhoods to deal with in their database.

    second—near trinidad? the house is absolutely, positively, nowhere near trinidad. sorry, memphis reader, i know i’m coming across as a dick here, but whoever gave you that data is misleading you. this house is just as close to trinidad as it is to mt. pleasant, or brookland (that is to say, it’s nowhere near any of those).

    (third—the proper address is 59 R street. you have 54 R street in your write-up, PoP, but you did get the map right.)

    fourth—the house was a homeless camp, so it’s not surprising that it’s been gutted. my friends used to live in the house next door, and they had frequent problems with the vagrants who tunneled into the house from the back yard. i’d wager that the interior was in a condition that would be quite difficult to save.

    fifth (and final)—is “trinidad” now just a meme that people from all the way in memphis understand as “bad neighborhood in DC?” if so, bravo national media, you did a bang up job of ruining that neighborhood’s reputation for a generation or more.

  • I’ve walked through that area often to look at apartments and such. It’s quite nice. And as other posters have stated, not near Trinidad at all. Actually the walk there from the Shaw metro station is quiet, well traveled and safe.

  • Quincy St Neighbor

    You are no where near the troubles of trinidad. on the contrary u are steps away from a GREAT independent coffeehouse
    which also has a farmers market during the growing season… which petworth lacks 🙁

    While I live in Petworth, i know the area this house is located quite well, i have 6 friends who live within a 2 block radius there including the owners of the cafe. It’s a mix of longtime residents, urban contemporary professionals, young hipsters, and urban pioneers.

    house looks BIG and nice inside. It may lack period details but that’s where the owner steps in.

    u are an easy straight shot walk down R street to the shaw metro, i’d say is less than 5 short blocks. i’ve done it several occassions and never had a problem. R st is a mellow residential, well paved one-way (from FL Ave going westward) street.

    $550K would be a fair price.

  • That area is OK – it’s transitioning and there are some nice new buisinesses (Big Bear Cafe & the farmers market are within a block). North Capitol St. is not the greatest, and that area has some large housing projects that are getting town down and redeveloped (Sursum Corda).

    I think maybe a good strategy would be to pick some of the nicest neighborhoods that have everything you want and work from there. If the U Street area is a fave, but you can’t afford a house there, check out Shaw. Mt. Pleasant/Columbia Heights faves but you can’t afford what you want? Check out Petworth.

    I think you really have to spend some time in DC in person to pick something and get a fair price, but overall I think it’s a great time to buy here. Prices are down, yet the overall trend is reinvestment in the close-in neighborhoods with a lot of new development. Good luck!

  • On the house itself, it appears that both the 2nd and 3rd bedrooms have just one medium-sized window each . . . that’s not too appealing to me. Because of the building layout, that’s understandable for the middle bedroom. But a second and even third window could have been readily added to the back bedroom during the renovation.

  • @IMGoph – is the only way you know how to correct people is to act like a total dick about it? Also, are you that underutilized at your job that I can’t visit any of the popular DC blogs without encountering your pithy comments? Your boss needs to give you some work to do…

  • It’s actually not too far from the Metro (google says .6 mi, but that’s along FL Ave. which is somewhat inhospitable along that stretch), and you’re kind of sort of close to some stuff that may or may not be up and coming – but it’s still kind of a dead area. I used to drive through there in the early 90s all the time on my way from College Park to the Hill, and it’s a lot better than it was then, but I would not say it’s “safe” or is “close to a lot of amenities.” I guess I’d say Safer than Trinidad, Not as Safe as a LOT of Other Places. What’s the closest grocery store to there? FL Ave Market? The Giant on O St.?

  • Quincy, thanks for clearing up the Eckington reference. I read it and thought, Eckington? Isn’t that area on the NE side near FED EX and McKinley HS? Yeah, walking to the Shaw metro would be a safer bet than going east to North Capitol.

  • As for shopping, you better forget about walking to the grocery store. But Whole Foods at 14th & P Sts. isn’t a far drive and is one of the best stores in the city, at least I think so. BTW, while the renovation retains none of the old charm, perhaps the previous inhabitants made a total gutting of the property necessary. It’s not bad inside, kind of standard reno job, but it still looks nice. A little high priced in these times though.

  • jason: glad to see that you’re the second person to call me a dick in this thread. you’ll note that the first was me, myself, and i.

    nichole: i have to say that the neighborhood is pretty safe. compare the number of assaults, muggings, violence against persons, etc., to logan, parts of the hill, columbia heights, and bloomingdale is MUCH, MUCH safer. that walk along florida avenue is actually pretty non-inhospitable. it’s a busy thoroughfare, and there are a lot of eyes on the street there.

  • Nichole, there’s the Giant at 8th and O you mentioned, the new Safeway at 5th and K, and a bunch of smaller places like Timor Bodega (on Rhode Island; basically on 2nd between S & T). There’ll also be a Harris Teeter at the NY Ave metro…eventually.

  • oh man, someone dropped the phrase “urban pioneer.” Beware the PoP commenter wrath.

  • I live REAL close to Trinidad, utilize the NY Ave station EVERY day, and ain’t nobody throwing rocks at my head. How, oh lord, can folks who live in CoHi, Petworth feel so superior? Don’t people get shot in your neighborhood too?

  • @IMGoph.

    Tell it on the mountain, brother. Commenters on this blog piss me off sometimes.

    That neighborhood is awesome. Trinidad is also awesome. Just don’t be an idiot and you will have a wonderful experience (a la the PoP Anacostia foray over the last few weeks). Good communities get ripped apart by stereotypes and the perceptions of outsiders. Remember, nobody ever cares about the good news coming out of Trinidad (or anywhere); they choose instead to focus on the violence.

    As for this particular house, This neighborhood is uber-accessible to everything in DC, provided you have/are willing to buy a bicycle. With a bike, metro is a 2-3 minute easy ride, dupont circle is a gradually sloping downhill 5-8 minute ride. downtown is 5-8 minutes. bike lanes are sufficient in this area as well. Biking brings communities together in a way cars/metro/the local news never could.

    Within walking distance, as noted earlier, you’ve got the best java fix in DC and a decent farmer’s market.

    There is also a really tight little corner store somewhere around there with a bunch of good delectables. (maybe closer to ledroit park).

    Is this a good price? I would say you could probably knock 20k and have them cover 10k in closing costs. Definitely a solid investment in a great residential neighborhood.

    full disclosure: NOT a realtor. ha!

    • I lived in Bloomingdale, and if my husband and I could afford it, we would buy in bloomingdale. Windows, Timor, Big Bear are amazing, and the neighbors are fantastic. I’ve never lived in such a friendly neighborhood. The word of advice to take to heart is to always walk west at night, not east, but other than that, I always felt safe in that neighborhood.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    It’s funny, I think every neighborhood I’ve written about has been accused of being unsafe. This applies to Petworth, Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan, Mt. P, Brightwood, Bloomingdale, etc. And I have to assume it’s an unfamiliarity with these neighborhoods that lead people to make blanket statements. Regardless of the neighborhood there are generally some spots/streets that have a less than pleasant history and there are other spots/streets that are beautiful. And just because there has been some violence on some street corner at one point does not make the whole neighborhood “sketchy” nor even that street for that matter. I think once folks walk around the neighborhood (whichever one) they will realize their own personal comfort level. Some folks will love it and some folks will not. However, it’s certainly not fair to label an entire neighborhood in my opinion.

  • @IMGoph – I didn’t mean unsafe in terms of human on human violence – more in terms of getting hit by a car. People drive like nutjobs right around there and there are some funky intersections to cross. (I was also not thinking of Shaw at all – I was thinking of the NY Ave station – I’m NE Centric, what can I say? It honestly didn’t even occur to me to look west on the map for where this was.)

    Also, this is reasonably close to Metro Ice and Beverage, which I am inordinately fond of for procuring beer in bulk. (Although, the last time I went past, it looked closed down – it’s still there, right?)

  • Just a heads up, the back ‘bedroom’ on the lower level is not legal, no means of escape. From the outside, to dig out and put an egress window will be several thousand.

  • Too close to North Capital for me.

  • I live on this block no more than 5 houses closer to Big Bear and it’s a great street. Lots of friendly, neighborly activity on the street (people cleaning sidewalks together, shoveling snow, chatting while walking their dogs, etc.) Big Bear draws quite a crowd, especially on the weekends and is a great place to hang out. The farmers’ market it terrific, Timor Bodega (sp?) is down the street basically, DC Yoga moved in this summer and Bloomingdale is basically the closets ‘neighborhood’ to the NoMa development area. In 3 years, when most of that development is done (NPR moving in late next year, etc.) this area is going to be terrific. It’s true what others have said, you get a good amount of food traffic to and from the Shaw metro and unless you are a moron walking home at drunk at 3AM in the morning from U street, this is a pretty safe place to be.

  • two additional, nearby grocery stores: the safeway at 4th and rhode island ave. ne and the giant at the rhode island ave. metro.

    with regard to comments on the area’s “up-and-coming”ness: two strong initiatives are taking place in the area. 1) north capitol main street ( and 2) “think rhode island avenue” (,A,1365,Q,608751.asp). add in the current and future development at the ny ave. metro and rhode island ave. metro, and you’ve got a neighborhood that’s much more than “kind of sort of close to some stuff that may or may not be up and coming” and definitely NOT a “dead area.”

    also, ditto to everything IMGoph and Shawres said, EXCEPT, surprisingly, neither of them mentioned Windows on the corner of first and rhode island nw – good food and coffee, and a great corner bodega 😉

  • That’s actually a nice neighborhood. Way safer than Columbia Heights. Perceptions often don’t correspond to reality. I have no horse in this race either, residing in a WoTP neighborhood, but I would definitely consider moving to Bloomingdale or Ledroit. Walk around, you might be surprised (in a good way) by what you see.

  • I would imagine less than 10% of basement apartment in the district have bedrooms that have an actual unobstructed (no bars) window low enough to qualify as a means of egress. Just doesn’t seem to be a priority.

  • @ Anonymous 2:22 – I thought the same thing, but then noticed that there appears to be a window. It’s not visible on the interior pic, but if you look at the exterior pic of the back of the house, there may be a window on the side of the bedroom adjacent to the back stairwell.

  • Okay, I stand corrected on the dead area comment. Although, it’s hard to base things on what might be happening (sorry, I have lived enough places where such-and-such-city-initiative was going to revitalize and bring x to the neighborhood, that it’s hard for me to put much faith in such initiatives) but this is closer to a lot things than I initially thought. Not to mention FL Ave market. As for safe or unsafe, I agree it’s perspective. I’ve lived in too many transitional cities (never mind the individual neighborhoods therein) to be a good judge of what is and isn’t safe, and PoP is right – it’s about what you’re comfortable with. But at this point, I’m out of the “urban pioneer” business. (that was for you, RD) Although, that said… I do find myself scanning red fin for property east of the river, so I guess we’ll see if I stick to my guns on that.

  • nichole: my apologies, then! you’re absolutely right, the traffic around there is a nightmare (of course, i feel like it is on every major thoroughfare in this city). as a biker and walker, i know that florida and new york is one hell of a bad corner to try to navigate, especially during both the morning and evening rush.

  • Sometimes the slow pace of development can seem agonizing, but when I step back and think what’s changed in DC in the 15yrs I’ve been here, it’s amazing. Sure, it can be frustrating to wait, but it’s not like you’re not living in the meantime.

  • PetworthRes thank you for mentioning how much has changed in the recent past – it’s something i’ve found myself repeating a lot recently to gain perspective, both to myself and to other folks.

  • And regarding any kind of purchase of a home (what initially started this conversation) wouldn’t you WANT to buy in an up and coming area so the appreciation hasn’t already taken place. If you buy a place in Dupont today you’re not going to make much money unless you totally renovate the place. If you buy in Bloomingdale today, you’re easily going to make a good return on your investment just because the location will improve by the development around it (think Chinatown even 5-7 years ago). So while it can be frustrating to wait for that development to happen and you have to basically wait it out, it’s the smart thing to do from an home buying/investment standpoint.

  • Buying a home based on its investment potential as the first priority is a terrible reason to buy. Buy a house where you want to live. If that’s DuPont, fine. If that’s Trinidad, great. Your quality of life should weigh far more than investment potential.

  • Can’t vouch for the house, but you’re talking about my ‘hood, which I personally wouldn’t trade for nothing. And I do walk home from Whole Foods sometimes.

  • PoP is right about perceptions of safety in regards to neighborhoods. I live in CH and converted the top floor of my house to a little vacation rental apt. and for 3 years now have hosted probably about 120 visitors. About half are Kansas-type families with young children – many of whom have never been to any big city.

    Quite a few have actually never seen or encountered people of color in everyday life. But the cool thing is – all have felt safe and even welcomed in the neighborhood. ( OK – I am very close to the Metro – so not the “scary depths”, but still -) But every now and then, after expressing interest in renting the place, someone googles Columbia Heights and gets totally freaked out. (I can only imagine how the rock-throwing thread might echo through cyberspace!)

    My point – go, walk, talk, feel. Most things don’t kill you. (I’m reading a lot of history at the moment, which always makes me comparatively sanguine.)

  • Ditto on buying where you want to actually live over looking too heavily at investment potential. If we have learned anything from the recent turn in the housing market, that should be it. OatsDC: I could agree with what you said if you put it in terms of savings and affordability rather than potential for profit. Maybe it is just a matter of “you say tomato, I say tomato” [I love the irony of using that phrase in print – anyone see the SNL where Christopher Walken ruins the whole song because he is reading it from que-cards?] because it is still a matter of money in the end. Either way I suppose.

  • Unless your primary goal is to purchase an investment property rather than your domicile, it makes little sense to buy strictly based on potential appreciation. It should be a home that fits your lifestyle and budget located in an area where you would actually want to live. Everyone has different risk tolerance and different perceptions of what constitutes a safe or desireable environment. The ‘Mayor of Braddocc’ (township near Pittsburgh) is a great example,%20David

    As the daily news makes painfully obvious, investments carry risks — do you really want to make such a high cost investment that doesn’t pan out AND that sticks you in a home/neighborhood you don’t really like?

  • Valid points on buying a house. I guess it just depends on where in your life you are and what you are trying to accomplish by buying a home (investment, location, schooling). If I had a family and needed to worry about schools, etc. I certainly wouldn’t be buying in Trinidad (not this this house is anywhere near Trinidad), but if I were looking to make a couple hundred thousand dollars in the next ten years, it might not be a bad idea. Whatever floats your boat I guess.

  • And to Buying a home: While it’s certainly ideal to buy “where you want to live”, I am not sure that’s a reality for everyone. I might want to live in Dupont but can’t afford to live there in a house equaling the size of this house on R street for instance. So wouldn’t it make sense to buy the house in an up and coming area (as described by numerous folks) with the anticipation that either the area will turn for the better and you will be happy living there for the long run or that you might be able to sell the house for a profit because it was a sound investment? You can then take your profits back to Dupont and get the place you couldn’t afford before. I guess this mirrors my post above in that it all depends on where you are financially in your life. More power to you if you can afford a three story, renovated Victorian in Dupont.

  • OatsDC: With Two Rivers Public Charter and JO Wilson a stones throw away, why can’t folks raise children in Trinidad?

  • Sunny: I was just using Trinidad as an example. I know literally NOTHING about school districts and didn’t mean to offend. It might be a perfectly good place to raise a family.

  • 1st: Welcome to DC!
    2d: There’s no reason in the world for anyone to buy a property long distance in this housing market. Your best bet is to rent here for awhile, get to know the city and its various neighborhoods, and then decide where you want to buy. The market in the DC area is better than in many places but there is still a ton of inventory out there. There is no reason to rush into a purchase, particularly in a less established area. I’m not knocking this neighborhood because I’m not real familiar with it. I’m just saying that there is no reason to rush into the housing market right now. You have plenty of time.

  • this is an awesome neighborhood, only a little sketchy, and right by your new favorite place for weekend coffee the big bear market.

    however in this neighborhood (as in all of dc) different blocks have tremendously different feels; my house is pretty quiet, but 2 blocks up is public housing and near daily police activity.

    i’d agree on renting for a while and testing the waters. i’d also suggest visiting any block you’re considering buying on a few times to see how it is. my best advice is to go there and walk around at night on a nice weather night and see how it feels – are friendly people on their porches or out walking? are there sketchy guys hanging out on the corner?

  • I live in that area, actually in Ledroit Park, and it’s wonderful. After renting in Columbia Heights for a bit, and Petworth as well, I feel that I am in a relatively unknown little paradise of DC. The neighborhood is friendly and safe, for the most part. N Cap St can be dicey in places, but not necessarily in that area.

    I will say this: I’ve lived in DC for 3 years, and have only recently begun to understand it’s pockets and secrets. I strongly suggest that reader and husband rent before buying, if at all possible.

  • @IMGoph – You forgot to post that delicious story about your maniac racist neighbor who tried to run you off the road. You’ve got the best of suburban car driving lunacy AND urban hate crime. It’s win-win!

  • monkey: shhh! we don’t want to scare anyone away.

    bloomingdale has no crazies! only the other neighborhoods do! come on in, the water’s fine! 🙂

  • Not a good deal. While that part of R street is nice, that price is not. That house should be no more than 399k for that area. Someone is still living in 2005—–

  • i think the unit block of r street nw is one of the prettiest blocks in the city.

    i live a block away from there, and think the area is pretty nice.
    the safeway at 5th and k is quite walkable.
    the new york avenue metro is quite close and there is a harris teeter being built there.

    i’ve been walking to that metro station since it opened and have always found it fine, and getting better. i too like the ice place.

    riding bikes around here is great, though i personally avoid florida and north capitol on bike, but i walk them all the time.

    north capitol doesnt have much to offer, but its not a scary street by any means.

    you can easily walk to chinatown or u street. or a quick bus ride.

    sure there are downsides too, but the comments here seem to be a bit over the top with them.

  • Monkeyerotica…..THERE you are! I wanted to get in touch with you offline to have you follow up on a comment you made to a blog on the issue of crime in the Ward, back in Feb. Consider me a GOOD stalker if you will. I wanted to include your comments in a piece I’m working on for my magazine on said topic. My deadline FAST approaches so I hope you will respond to me and quickly. PoP, can you serve as go-between here? Please give Monkey my official email addy and I guess that will be that. Thanks and keep all the good material comin’ y’all!

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