Good Deal or Not? Reader Request – When Will H St., NE Become Like U St., NW?


This home is located at 920 3rd Street, NE:

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The flier says:

“Wonderful 2BR + Den Victorian located between Union Station, H Street NE and NOMA. This home features 2 full baths, hardwood floors, skylight, fireplace, remodeled kitchen and patio.”

More infor found here.

The reader writes:

“It is 1 block to H St, 4 blocks to Union Station and 5 blocks to New York Ave Station and the tram tracks are FINALLY going in on H St after years of discussion. But, it could be a “sketchy” neighborhood (hahahahaha, love that word) as it is so descriptive and everyone understands exactly what it “means”. Another aspect of this is that once someone crosses H st the prices seem to fall off a bit compared to say F St or G St and does this price fit the North H St pricing?

Also, another question that may be interesting for your readers is how long do they think it will take for H St to become more like U St? H is “great” around 12th and 13th where there are restaurants and music venues, but there is not a ton of retail / restaurants in between that attract a lot of foot traffic. What will need to be done to improve it and will the Tram help H St prosper?”

This house is going for $425,000. I find it very unusual that there are no photos for a house at that price particularly if it has been renovated. But to address the reader’s questions – personally I think it is a bit of a gamble. It is a gamble that I would take. (I’m talking about the neighborhood not the specific house.) While H St, NE is more lively around 12th Street I do believe the development will ultimately expand toward 3rd St. For me I moved to Petworth before there were any destination spots aside for the Hitching Post. I loved my house and I loved the feel of the neighborhood. I hoped that development with new destination spots would arrive. Thankfully they have and are still coming. I believe the same will happen to the H Street, NE area. But look, if you or your wife don’t feel comfortable then it’s probably not a good idea. Because a gamble is a gamble and you should like the neighborhood as it is because you never know how long it will take for the development to occur. Of course, you should keep in mind that you’ll be very close (in my opinion) to lots of good stuff. As for H St, NE becoming like U Street, NW that will probably depend on the economy rebounding. But I’ve heard folks say it is generally 5-7 years behind. What do you guys think?

40 Comment

  • 5-7 years behind at least.

    Although the streetcar tracks are going in, approval hasn’t even been received to install the overhead wires that will be necessary. Overhead wires are not allowed within the boundaries of L’Enfant’s original city plan. I can see those tracks sitting unused for many years before the District works out all the kinks.

    And 3rd street is still west of the area intended to be serve by streetcar stations. The tracks will continue past third street, but only to reach a turn-around area.

  • NW will always trump other areas. The cachet will always be there. Telling someone you live in NE will never rival telling someone you live in NW.

  • I know what the reader means, but I always get nervous when I hear people asking when my neighborhood will look like ‘XXX’. I think different neighborhoods should have different “vibes”. I’m familiar with both Petworth and Bloomingdale and to me, although they are both gentrifying, they have very different feelings about them – and that’s cool. So I echo PoP – you have to like the neighborhood as it is. Even if it gets wealthier and attracts retail options, the fundamental vibe of the place will persist for many years.

  • Telling someone you live in NE will never rival telling someone you live in NW.

    Unless the person bragging about living in NW lives in Petworth.

  • And I would definitely gamble on H St. NE. In fact, I expect to do so, soon. But paying more than 400k for a house north of H St. is too much of a gamble for me. That and I’d worry about being kept up at night or woken up early in the morning by the trains nearby that house.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    @JustME I don’t agree with the person who said “telling someone you live in NE will never rival telling someone you live in NW”. I mean there are tons of great homes in NE. But I’m wondering – why do you gotta hate on Petworth. You know that hurts my feelings, right?

  • Telling someone you live in NE will never rival telling someone you live in NW.

    Unless you live on Capitol Hill…

  • Thank you @Dave, I was just about to say that, but thought that since I live on Capitol Hill, it might seem biased! (which of course, it is!)

  • I live in the Senate Square apartments right at 2nd and I NE. I would love to buy something in this neighborhood, but I agree with those who have said that I would prefer to be north of H. Also, that particular block of third always seems to be a trouble spot. I frequently hear a lot of yelling and commotion coming from there when I’m walking my dog, and that can be pretty late at night. Cars get broken into around there pretty regularly as well.

  • K St., how much is your rent, if you don’t mind.

  • The H Street NE area is SUPER SKETCHY! I wouldn’t pay $150K for this place.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to call 911 on the kids who pelted me with rocks and stole my dog outside my one-bedroom Clifton Street condo (paid $550K for it in 2003).

  • $1745 including pet rent but no utils. That’s just about the cheapest floor plan they’ve got too.

  • 425k for that house is a steal if you plan on sticking around for more than five years. You’ll double your money. Otherwise, buy a condo that you can flip to a management company to rent out for you when you want to skip out of town…

  • Typical PoP Commenter — get off our fucking blog then

  • I was in this neighborhood visiting a friend a few days ago and walked past this house. It looks promising, but also needs a good deal of investment. I also agree with the comments about the risks of “gambling” on a neighborhood that hasn’t yet arrived. At the same time, however, there seems to be a rather staggering high amount of construction going on in this corner of town that is due to complete in the next 12-24 months — and, in general, the vibe seems really positive. In addition to the trolley tracks that are going into H Street to the south, there is also a lot of new stuff to the immediate north: two new luxury apartment buildings going up about a block or so away, with retail space, plus the Harris Teeter coming in at the NY Avenue Metro stop just a little further up. All things considered, I’d say this neighborhood looks like a pretty solid bet to turn into something interesting and attractive in the next few years. The question is whether it’s worth getting in on the ground floor and living through the transformation, with all the up’s and down’s.

  • Typical PoP Commenter

    if you’re going to hate it, get off our flippin blog

  • The trolley thing is HUGE. It will take a while to actually see them on the streets, but believe me, when they come in, this neighborhood will be the center of attention in the city for a long time. I’d say that 425 + 100k in renovations + five years = a great home. I’d caution you against seeing it has an investment, but you could have a wonderful family/retirement here and build up tons of equity.

    Also, Typical PoP Commenter: LOL! everyone else, c’mon, it was funny.

  • I don’t hate this blog. Far from it. I find it quite informative and entertaining.

    It’s the often thin-skinned and ill-informed commenters who make me chuckle, especially on the GDON posts.

  • Who cares if NE will ever rival a NW address?

    The prospective buyer did not write to PoP to ask if they should consider buying in NW. They are only asking about this particular house and this neighborhood.

  • The question was When Will H St., NE Become Like U St., NW. If you tell someone you live in NE, they do not have any idea of your neighborhood. Hence, people will say Capitol Hill. If you tell someone you live in NW, people usually give it the benefit of the doubt. When I post ads in the paper, out of town people call and specifically request NW. Not SE or NE. Maybe Capitol Hill.

  • The question was When Will H St., NE Become Like U St., NW

    Right. The question was with respect to the level of retail, restaurants, and entertainment available and when will they become comparable. “Northwest” encompasses a lot of different neighborhoods, from Palisades to Fort Totten. The question was with respect to the real estate values and commercial activity on U St. NW vs. H St NE. The question was not “when will people refer to living in NE the same way they say ‘NW’ hoping that you will blindly assume they live west of Rock Creek Park?”

    In a certain sense, saying “NW” without reference to the specific neighborhood is a sign that you live in a bad neighborhood but are hoping that the “NW Aura” rubs off on you. Funny you should mention ads in the paper, though. When I see an ad for an apartment that says “In NW near the red line,” I assume someplace undesirable, because otherwise it would mention the metro station and/or the neighborhood.

    Generally I think it’s only a few years away before saying you live in “H St” and saying “U St” have similar cachet. But those desperate for cachet who live near U St. will probably say they live near Dupont.

  • Love the H St. area. It already has a lot of the U St vibe, just not nearly as much of it. It is a few years behind U st. in that sense. A major difference I notice right now is week day evening traffic in the areas. Both are bumping on the weekends, but H St is much less crazy during the week than U.

    Being so close to the Hill, it is an attractive place for people that work there but cant afford the closer-in neighborhoods. Lots of great housing stock around too. Once the tram comes, H st jumps leaps and bounds.

    I’m hesitant about buying into a neighborhood for what it will be rather than what it is now, but in the case of H St, I would think you are settling into a good longterm investment.

  • Even though the Trolley rails are on schedule, I would still put the completion out 1.5 years for the work on H street. Add 2-3 more years for DC to get its act together and actually get the overhead rails, which might take another year or 2 past that to install. So we are talking 5-6 years.

    In the mean time bars on H street are getting crowded. I keep seeing lines out the door for the H street country club, and more and more pink polo shirt wearing pop collared Georgetown types walking around. I never saw them a year ago, now they are out on the weekend checking out the “local flavor” of this “cool place I heard about”. As U street has become an extension of Adams Morgan, H street now has the crown for “cool /grimey” night life area, like U street did maybe 5-6 years ago. Will H be U in 5-6 years? No. Will it be with in 5 years of the trolley? Yes.

    Development will bloom around the public transportation because it has a permanence to it that buses don’t, plus it gives DC an even more European vibe that so many people love about it.

    And yes I do believe this, because I bought a place 2 blocks east of this house 2 weeks ago.

  • I just don’t get that the trolley is going to make H St. so awesome. I live around the corner from this house and while I love our neighborhood, having a trolley to take 2 blocks away that is more likely slower and less reliable than the shuttle or the X2 buses isn’t a huge draw. But it’s the kitsch factor that will help it I’m sure.

    As for the “JustMe” train noise comment, the trains aren’t loud at all actually. Because they’re coming into or out of Union Station they’re moving slowly and the only sound they make is a gentle track noise and a quiet ringing bell, not a loud horn or anything. We frequently sleep with our windows open and it’s a very faint far off sound that’s actually quite soothing.

    The people in this ‘hood are incredibly active in the community and are very involved in continually improving the area. This house does need some TLC, and I’m sure you could get this for under $400k, which would be a deal….IF you were going to stay put for a while. The construction nearby (that Ted mentioned above) is actually an apartment complex and the other building is a Congressional page intern housing building. The retail will come, I’m sure. And as for getting in on the ground floor, I actually think the ground floor was a couple years ago…I think we’re on the 2nd floor now….with a couple more floors to go.

  • I’m going with JustMe at 1:25. I can’t say that H Street will be like U Street until it is less “complicated” to get to from Union Station.

    As for the GDoN, I live in SE a few block from Eastern Market in a significantly “better” neighborhood and my house is somewhat comparable (2 BR 1.5 BA) and I don’t think I could get that price for my house and I have a yard (I’m on the corner), a basement, and a nice size deck (where my garbage cans live).

  • People hate buses. The trolley, even though it essentially is an electric bus, does not have the same stigma. Bus routes change, not to mention have overlapping routes, so when you see a bus you are less certain where it is going. A trolley goes in a loop that you can identify by its overhead wires. Like I said, the permanence is what attracts people.

  • There may be some who read today’s Post Metro section article about the noise and crowds associated with U Street’s nightlife and and wonder why they would ever want H Street to become like U street (I’m not one of them). As someone who has lived nearby for nearly seven years, I’ve been watching H Street’s transformation. It’s not only bars. Two of the pioneer’s and catalysts for what has become the “Atlas District” are the H Street Playhouse and the Atlas Theater. The bars and restaurants have followed. One thing that U Street has that H Street currently lacks, but needs to support more services is high-density residential development. A lot of this has been approved for the eastern end of H Street, but it will take an upturn in the real estate market before this gets built. I’d give it another 5-6 years.

  • this area is sketchy in the extreme.

  • Trolley will just be a cute thing to have and provide an alternative means of tranportation. Remember, it will stop somewhere around Union Station going west so if you’re going beyond there, you’ll need to transfer to the X2. If it were me, I would just take the X2 to save time. Of course the H Street/Benning line is just the beginning of a master plan. It will be more like 15 yrs (after expansion of the lines) before the Trolley will actually be a useful alternative means of transportation, but it’s gonna look cool that’s for sure! I’ve lived just south of H St. for nearly 10 years and the changes over the past 5 have been astonishing and I feel like my neighborhood is completely different. But then my family comes to visit and they don’t notice any changes! I give H Street about 10 years (remember were talking 15 blighted blocks here; U Street area is a lot shorter) before the word “sketchy” is dropped from the description. That’s not that long for an area to “turn around” considering the area began it’s decline late 50s early 60s (it didn’t start with the riots like many believe). Patience! I love living in this area and our community is engaged and connected at a level you wouldn’t find in Dupont, U Street, etc. In 10 years when everything in clicking along you’ll find way less community egagement. I enjoy and appreciate the community/area for what it is presently. Already, I miss the period we went through 5-6 years ago when we were battling 3-4 drug houses, muggings, a couple abandon properties. Now were battling parking issues, permit issues, etc – boring!

  • Please Eric in ledroit,

    there are areas of Ledroit up in the NE, near north capitol that are far sketchier. Hell alot of of Columbia heights is sketchier. You have an outdated perception of the area, have you been to H street in the last 2 years?

  • The trolley wires will take at least 5 years of DC vs. Fed lawsuits before they’re going to be approved for installation.

  • H street are is the new “straight” Dupont Circle. Get in on the second floor.

  • “People” don’t really hate buses, RL. YOU may hate them, but not everyone does.

    I happen to love them. I can almost always take a bus right to my destination with hardly a walk. If there is an incident, I’m not trapped in a tunnel waiting for signals or emergency workers, I can simply get off and find another way to get home. And I have interesting scenery to look at during my trip, instead of a black tunnel.

  • @Jason, eric was kidding. Sorry @eric to speak for you, but I think a lot of people don’t know why it’s funny when you (in particular) call an area “sketchy”.

    In the future, will the 2008-2009 years on PoP be called the “Sketchy Wars”?

  • how is eric in ledroit being funny when he says the area is sketchy in the extreme? i think he’s right. i worked in that area for many years, and during my first years in DC, I lived over there, and i have many friends who’ve lived there (though none as home owners). despite the NY Ave metro, it’s plain not safe after dark. even in the daylight, it’s like NYC in that you can walk down one street and be perfectly safe, but you can’t walk down the next street over without risk. the NE realtors want NW prices without any of NW’s benefits.

  • seriously. it will be 20 years or more before this area loses its skecth factor.

  • Overall, there is a lot of energy coming to this neighborhood. I think with the Harris Teeter / NOMA development / affordability / that this area will be worth investing in. It will take at least 3 years to see it cleaned up but it is a good time to get into the area! H St is great!

  • I’ve lived in this area since before Senate square was put it(2002). Frankly, the neighborhood has never really scared me. You still have some problem areas, 6th and L NE, 6th and K, 8th and H, and a couple more, but overall its ok. You have some problem houses but it seems like the city is getting serious about pressuring landlords about problematic tenants.

    I think >400 is high for the area unless its a big (1200 sq ft +) house or it has a high end remodel, or has other amenities like a garage, lg yard etc.

  • yall making everything worst….everything was fine before everybody wanted to start changing things….h street isnt nw and shouldnt feel like it….nobody cared about h street when it was all black but as soon as some white people move around it gets all the attention in the world…. does anybody else see whats wrong with that?

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