Dear PoP – What do PoP readers think of Capitol Hill East?

Photo by PoPville flickr user K’s Clicks

“Dear PoP,

I need your help and all of the readers of PoP. I am considering moving to the Hill East/ Stadium-Armory area, and wanted to know what type of area it is–is there any new development coming that way, what makes it different than other areas in D.C.,and what do people actually reside in the area now think of it? The more feedback the better because I know very little about the area, and want to be as knowledgeable about it before I make the move.”

Well there is definitely development going on. You have a pretty new Harris Teeter in Jenkins Row at 1350 Potomac Avenue SE. There is the popular Wisdom (and Trustys) bar. We had a discussion about this area in a GDoN post where the home was next to Mangialardo sandwich shop. Here’s some more general advice about the Hill.

What advice would you guys give about this area?

64 Comment

  • I know people that live in jenkins row and the area is still evolving. There are quite a few housing projects there sprinkled in.

    I wonder if the mayor has anything so say about that.

  • I live on the Hill in SE (not as far as Stadium Armory thought) and I like it. Close to several Metro stops walkable (at least for me) to work and grocery stores.

    One big change but not really development, is the change for new bridge work. It will likely have an impact on traffic flows on East Capitol/Independence getting onto 295. Also, C Street NE is going to have changed traffic flow and Constitution and Independence have new stop signs. I mention these because there does seem to be a sense that the city is paying more attention to residence quality of life issues like commuter traffic.

    Some development has happened but the next big thing – though not like for quite a while – is the development of Reservation 13 (DC Jail/DC General Hospital) and what if anything happens to RFK. Going to be a long while before that comes to pass. I will say that DC General is being used as a homeless shelter.

    As for crime PSA 107 (south of East Capitol) stats are available and I have been to a few of the monthly meetings and the LT is available.

  • It really depends on what block you’re talking about. The areas PoP listed I believe are a bit south and west of where this person is wanting to move.

    Another question for the OP- are you talking about renting or buying?

    To be general I would say the whole area is on the rise as is much of DC proper. Buying I would probably give a thumbs up. but you really need to go there several times morning, day and night to figure out if it’s a place you would like to live.

  • This is just my opinion…not saying it’s 100% representative….and not knowing anything about you or your background it’s hard to make comparisons that are meaningful. But if I was talking to someone from another part of the country, here’s what I would say.

    The kids that hang out at the Potomac Ave. metro are out of control. You have to be pretty confident and street savy to use this metro after work/dark because it’s a major hang out area and it attracts people looking for trouble. Eastern Market has some problems too, but the metro station is much more visible and trafficked (and there are tons of cops), so it doesn’t have quite the same amount of trouble.

    There are still problems at the projects near the Teet. Everything from robbery, to gun shots to teens running around throwing rocks at people. The old DC Gen Hospital is over there and has known problems and the DC jail is over there which may or may not make a difference. The area pops up frequently in the Police District list-serv for problems.

    All that being said, it’s very livable and I think it’s going to do well as a residential neighbodhood. There’s not a lot of space for commercial expansion in the area except if they decide to do something interesting with RFK some day. Congressional Cemetery is over there and is a total jewel of a park. If you have dogs, they’ll love it. The housing stock is in decent shape and can probably make a little money renovating a house.

    The Harry Teet is awesome if it’s in your budget. It has fallen off in the past 3-4 months from it’s high, but it’s way nicer then the “not so safeway” around the corner. The only downside of the teet is all the kids hanging out in the early evenings, but there’s enough of a security/police presence that I don’t see anything getting totally out of hand.

    • SouthwestDC

      I agree 100% with everything you’ve said.

      • I’ve never, ever had a problem with that Safeway that I haven’t had at any other grocery store, and that includes the Harris Teeter (which is significantly more expensive).

        Calling it the “not-so-safeway” is pretty ignorant.

        • I think it is pretty accurate.

        • Agreed, I go there all the time (it’s two blocks closer for me than Teeter) and I’ve never had any problems. Saw a kid get busted for shoplifting once, and another time the cops got called to break up some loud loitering kids…but they have their own security who are generally responsive to these sort of things. The staff are always super nice, and the selection is just as good as any of the new Safeways out in the burbs.

          • Uh, I think the Unsafeway moniker comes from WAY back and the area has changed a lot since then. I remember it being called this when I first lived in DC in the mid 1990s. That was back when everyone who moved to DC after college thought it was unsafe to live east of 16th St NW…so a nickname best dropped. A lot changes in 15 yrs!

          • Ignorant my a–. I didn’t nickname it that. Every Safeway in this town has a nickname, so stick it.

            All my problems with the Safeway have to do with your standard run of the mill rudeness and lack of helpfulness.
            “Do you have any baguettes?” Me
            “No” Employee
            “What’s that behind you?” Me
            “That’s not for sale” Employee

            “Where can I find X?” Me
            “I don’t know ” Employee

            It was immediately obvious that Teeter Mgmt was holding their employees to a higher standard the first 6 months they were open.

        • Calling it the “not-so-safeway” is pretty ignorant.

          Well, to be fair, so is saying that Harris Teeter is more expensive. ‘Cause it ain’t.

    • Yeah, well-put. Case solved.

    • Implying that Harris Teeter is somehow out of a Safeway shopper’s budget is also a bit misinformed. HT beats on price frequently.

      • True, and you can find cheap stuff at Whole Foods too, but that’s the game with grocery stores. If you take your entire weekly grocery list and shop at safeway and then at the Teet, on average, you’ll spend 10-20% more at the teet.

        Every grocery store has items that they discount to get you in the door and thy make up for it elsewhere. You have to have a lot of time on your hands to get the best price on everything at every grocery chain.

          • I’ve read the comparison articles, and the food the author buys is not what I buy. It was a scientific-y article with a inconclusive data sample; “While admittedly arbitrary” was the operative phrase. It was pseudo journalism at it’s best.

            I have shopped at both for 2+ years and I can tell you, the Teet is going to get you to spend more unless you’re a very disciplined shopper. On the plus side, you’ll get a lot better fresh items.

          • All I’m saying is that your sweeping statement that HT is going to run you 10-20% more is inaccurate. It may be true for you personally, but it’s not true across the board.

            (I shop at both; probably favoring HT a little more, but I also do a lot of my daily shopping at Eastern Market – so clearly I don’t really care which is more expensive since the Market is almost always more than both.)

        • Thats just not true…

          Consumer Checkbook says your wrong. Just because the lights are brighter doesnt mean the prices are higher.

          After reading the Checkbook analysis I’ve actually kept careful tabs on things… the only place that consistently beats Teeter and Safeway is Costco (well I dont shop at SFW, so I dont know about it). Harris Teeter and Safeway are definitely consistently competitive and its anyone’s guess who will be cheaper on a certain item that week. The difference is that HT also carries some higher end stuff and their house brand stuff (which IS sometimes higher, depending on what you get) is FAR superior in quality.

          • Right, plus Safeway’s produce section can’t hold a candle to HT’s. Of course, if you eat nothing but processed foods, that probably won’t matter much.

        • Every time I hear “Harris Teeter”, I think about nipples. 😉

  • SouthwestDC

    I work in Capitol Hill East, and I wouldn’t want to live there. Yes, you have Jenkins row. Aside from that, it’s a rather unattractive area, and I wouldn’t feel safe there. However, if none of that bothers you, you can get some good deals on properties. There aren’t many places in DC where you can walk to the blue/orange lines AND a nice grocery store AND be paying less than $500k for a rowhouse. But I don’t expect the neighborhood to get nicer anytime soon.

    • I guess safety is all in one’s perception; living here in East Capitol Hill, I’ve never felt unsafe or intimidated by the kids hanging out by the metro stop (sometimes I actually know them); but then again, I do *feel* unsafe sometimes when I go visit some friends who live near H Street, the same friends who tell me they rarely feel unsafe there.

  • Hill East cuts a wide swath. When I was looking to buy I looked in Shaw, Eckington, Bloomingdale, LeDroit, Hill East, H Street (Near Northeast?), mostly… with a little 16th St Heights, Columbia Heights, and Petworth mixed in…

    What I learned about all of these neighborhoods is that the exact location matters tremendously. In some of the neighborhoods the exact location determines access to public transit that works for your specific needs, others its about amenities, or personal safety. What is definitely true is that its a block by block issue… in all of those areas there are places that are accessible to things you want and relatively safe – in other places its either less safe or less convenient.

    With Hill East specifically, I found that I couldn’t find a property in my price range that was well within my preferred parameters on the spectra of: nice architectural details, safety, convenience to amenities, convenience to transport, and future development. With buying a house you have to compromise to get other things.

    If you’re not buying, you just need to find the most convenient, safest, and easiest place to live in your price range. I’m sure you can find a place in Hill East that fits this description.

    If you’re looking to buy, consider Hill East, but look in all of the other similar areas at the same time.

    There are definitely certain areas of Hill East that you will want to stay away from. Regarding future development, I dont think there’s a ton thats coming in the near future aside from the H Street Corridor, which isnt really near by. As someone noted, the jail and hospital projects could lead to retail/restaurant growth – but thats down the line.

    • On an analysis of crime, you should look at DC Crime Map – within 1500M of the Potomac Ave metro station violent crime has dropped 41% since last year and property crime is down 17%.

      There have been 65 incidents of violent crime in the past 12 months, which is lower than nearly all comparable areas of DC and 280 incidents of property crime which is comparable to many areas, but definitely on the higher side.

      Keep in mind many commenters have strong neighborhood preferences and do belittle an area that isnt there own. On the inverse, many people also pump their neighborhood up beyond what is accurate.

      You can do a fairly scientific analysis of different places with the DC Crime Map tool, google mapping distances to various public transit options that work for your work and social places, and looking at what amenities are within a short distance.

      I recommend doing that and favoring those findings far higher than what anyone on here says.

      • That actually sounds safer than Dupont or Adams Morgan…what are their numbers?

        • I just picked 1408 G Street SE arbitrarily bc I know Potomac Ave Metro is near there…

          Homicide 1
          Sex Abuse 4
          Robbery Excluding Gun 25
          Robbery With Gun 17
          Assault Dangerous Weapon (ADW) Excluding Gun 21
          Assault Dangerous Weapon (ADW) Gun 2
          Total Violent Crime 65
          Burglary 61
          Theft 105
          Theft F/Auto 72
          Stolen Auto 42
          Total Property Crime 280
          Total Crime 345

          • I would agree that for some crime it’s much safer than Adam’s Morgan. You couldn’t pay me to live in Adam’s Morgan right now. It’s a good idea run amok.

            However, as a daily commuter on both the Orange and the Red lines, the Orange line has a lot more trouble from teenagers than the red line.

            The question is do you feel safe walking alone by yourself after dark with rowdy teenagers around? You will do this frequently at Pot Ave. At least in dupont there are a lot more people around you.

          • On ocasion, I’ve felt the need to “watch my back” like one should do anywhere while leaving a well-lit station for a considerably less well-lit neighborhood. But I’ve never particularly felt unsafe.

            As far as the Orange/Blue lines go, I will say that the rides are far more pleasant than my former commute on the Green Line to/from College Park/Greenbelt, as far as rowdy kids are concerned.

      • Loved your post! Where’s the best place to get crime stats on DC neighborhoods?

  • I live two blocks from the Stadium/Armory metro stop. I ended up in a house here after my first choice, a place in Petworth, fell through. Honestly, I love the neighborhood. I admit, I’m more simple than most, but it has everything I need, and then some: two relatively nice grocery stores (Safeway on D St SE and Jenkins Row Harris Teeter), a true neighborhood dive bar (Trusty’s, where everyone literally does know your name if you go more than three times), and easy walking/biking distance to the action (Eastern Market, H Street) while being far enough removed from it to keep things quiet and to keep outside troublemakers away. I’ve never felt unsafe, but I do take the usual precautions. A car got broken into on my street once, but the dude had left his iPod charger sitting out…other than that, I don’t think anything serious has happened around my immediate neighborhood recently. Sometimes you’ll see hookers waiting for the metro after visiting the STD clinic next to DC General, but that’s about as exciting as it gets these days 🙂

    As far as development goes, I think they’re looking to do something with C Street NE around the Eastern High School area, right where all the Marylanders first speed in off of East Capitol Street after going around the stadium coming into the city. Not sure of the details though. They’re also tearing down some housing projects on the south side of Eastern High School, not sure what’s going in their place. They are already vacant.

  • I lived at 15th and Mass Ave SE for a few years as well as 14th and D NE for a few years.

    I think that people on this thread are confusing Hill East with Potomac Metro and Penn Ave at Barney Circle. Down there it is a bit troublesome with the Potomac Gardens kids, granted, but man, that’s a pretty toney neighborhood north of it that doesn’t match up with what people are posting.

    Kids/dogs/friendly neighbors/beautiful rowhouses — these are what you see for blocks and blocks around Lincoln Park, which is where “Hill East/Stadium Armory” begins–not at Potomac Metro.

    Fragers, Eastern Market, 8th Street/Barracks Row, Congressional Cemetery — these are all within striking distance of your house if you live there.

    PoP — I think that yet again the lack of definition for neighborhoods in the names is leading to a lot of sorta speculative/uninformed posting.

    • Exactly.

      I live at 13th & F, and it’s fantastic. My favorite place I’ve ever lived. I wouldn’t move too close to Stadium Armory simply because there’s not a huge amount going on there, but being walking distance to H St, Potomac, or Eastern Market are all very, very good things. I very rarely feel unsafe walking in any of those directions, even at night.

      • Yeah, the original posting says Hill East/Stadium but PoP specifically focused on Jenkin’s row/Harry Teet.

        I’d say the answer does change dramatically as you get closer to Lincoln park or Barrack’s Row.

      • SouthwestDC

        To be honest I wasn’t sure what “Hill East” encompassed, but since PoP mentioned Jenkins Row I focused on 12-19th St. SE. The NE part of these streets has a totally different vibe. The area around Lincoln Park, in particular, is lovely– I’m looking at properties right now and that is my top choice for neighborhoods.

  • Is this the same person that wrote into Urban Turf today with the exact same question?

  • We almost bought a house at Potomac metro but decided to opt out because it was at the high end of our range. We now live in Petworth. I didn’t feel unsafe around Potomac, nor do I in Petworth. That being said, as above posters have mentioned, in the District it really goes street by street. You’ll have to pay attention to the specific street where the house is located.

    I know a nice couple who bought close to the old stadium, they have a really cute house, clean with great bones and love it. Realistically you have to be aware in every DC neighborhood after dark. In my uneducated opinion (guess) I don’t see the area close to the old stadium as developing too quickly as I’ve never heard of any incentives.

    Good luck in your search!

    • I would love for them to bring the redskins back into DC and build a new stadium on top of RFK, but i know that is wishful thinking and the cost would be too high.

      captcha: this mortuary

    • “…it really goes street by street.”

      NONSENSE! Perhaps if you plan never to venture farther than your street. So, what if the street you live on is grand, although the four blocks leading to the metro are an urban wasteland?

      One must consider the entire area; that is, the area in which you will be living your day-to-day. For example, the walk from your home to the metro, grocery store, local watering hole, and/or other local points of interest.

  • I apologize to the people who are commenting for putting this question in both Urban Turf and PoP–I really was not aware people read both of these blogs. I do really enjoy the feedback so far and I hope people continue to comment.

    To be more specific the area I am looking at is more closer to RFK/Stadium-Armory Metro vs Potomac Ave by the Harris Teeter.

    Thanks again.

  • I live in Hill East, 3 blocks from Stadium-Armory. We bought our house there last year as we really liked living on the Hill but couldn’t afford the +/-$1 million rowhouses closer to the Capitol. We love our location. We can walk to Eastern Market (15 min), a metro station or DC United game(5 min), and Lincoln Park (-5 min). In less than a five minute drive I can be on H Street NE or merging onto I-395. When we were contemplating moving, we ran the online crime report for our block and where we previously lived closer to the Capitol, and the crime stats actually were lower for our new (now current) block. Plus, we had the surprise benefit of some awesome, friendly neighbors.

    I’d say if you are looking for a reasonably-priced house in a neighborhood that’s only getting better, Hill East is for you.

  • One of the things to keep in mind is that the wave of affluence is moving eastward at about the rate of a block or two a year. When I moved to the area around 14th and C NE in 2004, it was sketchy walking to Lincoln Park after 8pm, and there was nowhere to go for a drink other than Eastern Market. Now you have young women jogging by themselves at Lincoln Park after dark, and you can walk to H Street.

    In a decade everything from Benning Road to the SE/SW freeway and east to the Anacostia will be unrecognizable.

  • Have you looked closer to H Street? Hill East/Stadium Armory isn’t developing nearly as quickly as H Street area is. Potomac Ave/Teeter is getting nicer quickly with the caveats above, but the economic downturn has set the real redevelopment out there back a bit. You may still find a gem and I’ve got several friends who live out that way and are happy, but not as happy as those of us who are closer to H Street.

  • A few thoughts:

    1. There is a ton of development going on in/around Eastern Market/ Barracks Row. The housing prices within a 5 block radius or so have increased exponentially in recent years. If you can find a deal there though (fixer maybe?), I’d say that’s your best bet.

    2. Most people on the Hill view properties West of 14th Street as more desirable. This is changing, but it’s something to keep in mind for investment/resale purposes.

    3. I don’t really think of RFK/Stadium Armory as part of Cap Hill, but maybe that’s just me.

    4. I’m sure Potomac Avenue metro itself is a little ify at times, but there are some great homes just a few blocks from there, especially closer to Lincoln Park.

    • This stuff is funny to me coming from a rural background, but I see people talking about being creeped out around the Potomac Avenue metro, yet there’s a rather modest looking rowhouse on Potomac Avenue, about a half a block away, going for almost $800k.

    • A fixer-upper within 5 blocks of Eastern Market? HA!

  • It’s not really that bad. Every year I see it getting better. I have two friends that rent out there and they have a story or two but don’t we all? I have never been to the safeway but the Harris Teeter is as nice as the one in Arlington. There is a project over but the cops I know there say they have very little problem with people that live there. Plus you have freagers hardware and some great places to eat.

  • I’m amazed at how many people want to believe areas near subsidized housing projects are inherently sketchy. For the record — the Potomac Gardens tower at 1229 G Street SE houses the Potomac Gardens Senior Center. Scariest stuff there is a beef between rival Meals on Wheels crews.

    • Oh, come on now. You may have The Google, but drive through that area any time during the day or night. There’s definitely a level of paranoia from neighbors over what is basically a minor issue, but the idea that it’s a bunch of grannies sitting on porches knitting is ridiculous. There’s a reason they erected a giant iron fence around the projects there, and it wasn’t to prevent the yuppies from going in and stealing things.

      • I’ll do you one better — I live around the corner on a block with 1/2 dozen families with young children. I know of another block even closer with as many children. I’ve lived there for over 5 years and have seen nothing other than the crime rate continue to ebb.

        PG is entirely overblown as a safety threat. The bigger threats come from projects in other wards. Look at the apprehended suspects in the recent rash of carjackings mostly clustered on the northern side of the Hill. MPD informed our community that Benning Road was the primary point of egress for perpetrators. One incident occurred in the Penn Ave corridor (Sunoco station), but many others occurred throughout areas to the north of East Capitol (and I still consider those areas safe).

        We deal largely with property crimes around here. We also had a rash of home invasions last winter (suspects apprehended — lived near but not in PG)

  • I live essentially at Potomac & Penn, across from Potomac Ave metro. We bought a here a couple of years ago & I have never felt threatened or unsafe. The teenagers hanging around usually seem to be waiting for the bus outside of the metro, & have never bothered me, though I understand many people are unnerved by unsupervised minors. I agree with what ‘Assessment’ said way above about checking the crime maps – while we may not be as bright & shiny as Adams Morgan, that does not make our crime rates higher. After doing a lot of research we felt (& still feel) that this neighborhood had the most to offer for the price, & that the crime rates seem to be more assumed than real. Every neighborhood has its ups & downs, but with the access to metro, HT/SW, Trustys/Wisdom, the congressional cemetery for dog lovers, (not to mention a new establishment run by Joe Englert coming soon to the corner of Potomac & Penn with condos in the same building currently under renovation,) a short walk/bike to 8th Street & Eastern Market, another up to H Street, close to the Nats stadium (bike or take the shuttle,) quick & easy to the highway if you need to, all while there still being some pretty good deals on homes in the area, I think its certainly worth looking into. Long story short, I live in the area so may be biased, but it is certainly a neighborhood worth living in, & at least looking into.

  • You want to know what a neighborhood is really like? Go ask someone that shows up when you call 911 in that neighborhood, but lives in another part of the city. I live pretty close to where the OP is asking about, but I work up near Petworth. I know most of your dirty little secrets, Petworth. However, I don’t know the dirty little secrets of my own neighborhood. I get calls from the guys I work with from time to time checking on me when a call comes out on my street and they can’t remember my house number. Make sure your source grew up/ lives in the city, otherwise their frame of reference gets skewed.

    Captcha = skivvies return…. Nope, I’m keeping them.

  • I live on East Capital Street at 15th. Only a few blocks from the Stadium Armory Metro and have for the last 4 years. My husband and I love it. We’ve been renting and are now looking to buy. Its a very nice family friendly area that for the most part is pretty quiet. I walk to/from the Stadium Armory and the Potomac Ave Metro after dark and have never had a problem. We really like that we can walk to Fragers on Penn Ave on the weekends and bike to Eastern Market. Our friends in other trendier areas spend most weekends at our house to BBQ, walk our dogs to Kingman Island, and bike the Potomac River Heritage Trail.

    If your looking for a quieter area with more “urban outdoor activities” then restaurants/ bars then I’d suggest Hill East.

  • I work in the DC General Hosp campus and drive or walk around the area a lot. I don’t think it is more or less unsafe than Petworth, Col Heights. the houses are well maintained. HarTee, sure kids hang around the area a lot but they do so around DC USA.

    I understand that there are plans to redevl the Hosp site for mixed use. We have been told that we have 3 more years in our unit.

    You do see the released prisoners almost every morning (grey sweats, flip flops, yellow folder in hand) and there are 2 women & children’s homeless shelters on the site, as well as a drug tx facility run by CSOSA. So it is a busy site w/ a lot of activity most of the time. I have never felt unsafe even at night.

  • I moved to Hill East (17th and D SE) in August, and have really fallen in love with the neighborhood. We have a genuine sense of community out there: within days of moving in, almost all of my neighbors had stopped by to introduce themselves and welcome me. People actually greet one another on the street and get to know their neighbors. It’s also one of a very few areas in DC that is genuinely diverse (racially, economically, socially).

    I did have a bike stolen within days of moving in, but otherwise have had no issues with crime or with feeling unsafe. I regularly walk home from the metro by myself and bike all over hell’s half-acre with no issues.

  • I have lived near the Potomac Ave metro for about 3 years and really like the neighborhood. For your money, you get a lot in terms of size of house, proximity to a metro station, 2 nice grocery stores, restaurants on 8th st, eastern market, etc. Its also very family (and dog) friendly, and is very neighborhoody – I know most of my immediate neighbors as well as a ton of people within just a few block radius. People are much friendlier here than in the snooty condo building I used to live in in NW, and I completely agree with the above posters that it’s a wonderful mix of ages, races, etc. And I have never felt unsafe walking from the metro, even at night, and I am a petite female. Its also very easy access to 395/Pentagon area. The development has definitely been slower than on 8th street however, and to be honest HillEast is predominantly a residential neighborhood. So if you are looking for a new bar/restaurant to open up every week within 2 feet of your house, this is not the neighborhood for you. But if you want a tight nit, residential neighborhood with great people, good access to metro and supermarkets and a great hardware store, decent size houses, lots of parks, and a short walk to eastern market/restaurants on 8th st, I would absolutely recommend HillEast.

  • I completely agree with Jon. We bought a house 1 block from Stadium/Armory Metro last year and honestly didn’t know what to expect from the neighborhood. We looked at lots of places all over the city, but decided a full rowhouse v. a smaller condo was what we wanted long-term. Our neighbors are extremely friendly, and most people on the block seem to know everyone elses name. I am a young female and feel safe walking to and from the metro, and going for a run. We shop at Harris Teeter, go to dinner on 8th Street SE (quick drive or metro, nice walk to eastern market) and go out on H street all the time. I work downtown and have a 25 minute commute on the metro. Having both blue and orange line metros coming in and out of S/A station is great for timing purposes. You also can hop on 395 to virginia and 295 to maryland within minutes. The development in this area, seeing how much land and being close to the river and a metro, will come – its just a question of how long. I have never had an issue with the jail or DC General being right there. For someone who is still young and social, but wanted to buy something i’d be happy with long-term and want to raise a family in, I am extremely happy with the neighborhood.

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