Dear PoP – Real Estate and Development in Pleasant Plains

View Larger Map

“Dear PoP,

I’m looking to buying a house in Columbia Heights, more specifically, the Pleasant Plains neighborhood (b/w Sherman and Georgia Avenues). Do you or any of your readers know if development in the area is non-existent or hurt by the recession? In particular, whether there has been any word on what will be built on the site of the now-demolished Old Bruce Monroe School, or if the proposed street car line up 7th/Georgia Avenue is still viewed as a possible route?”

You have asked the million dollar question. Yes that area like the city in general has been hurt by the recession. But I think Pleasant Plains will be a great neighborhood for a long term investment but my opinion is that you better like it a lot now too, because who knows how long it will take for the proposed projects to be completed. The old Bruce Monroe school will be a community space for the short term. The street car is still slated to come to Georgia Ave in the 2nd deployment but realistically that could be many years from now. Unfortunately there are many vacant storefronts along Georgia Ave at the moment.

What do you guys think about the prospects for development in Pleasant Plains over the short term and long term?

21 Comment

  • I might be biased as a new owner of a house I am absolutely in love with on Sherman, but I’d say buy in Pleasant Plains without reservation!

    I have found that I love being sandwiched in between 11th Street development and Petworth metro development. Commuting anywhere is easy – you either hop on a bus or get in the car and head down Sherman. Dinner, drinks, and dessert are all short walks away in basically any direction. And all for a price that – in my experience – couldn’t be beat. We were only a block off of on 14th in our last place, and being on Sherman has been much nicer than we expected.

    In the short term, I think it is a great place to live. In the long term, I’m pretty confident that it will only get better.

  • And forget the sherman avenue streetscape project is begining, which will make the area even nicer. I’ve been here since 2005, which makes me an old-timer. I bought it as my first single-person starter house. Never had a lick of trouble being a single lady here. Now I’m married and with a kidlet on the way, and we can’t imagine moving. The commute is super easy — close to bus and metro. The street car is going to happen, but in 5 years not 2 years. There are rumblings of a possible columbia heights trolley too but that won’t be before the Georgia Avenue one. ** disclaimer the following is what my realty expert fiend told me, I am not trying to “sell you” on pleasant plains!** My realtor friend told me pleasant plains was a gem in terms of investment because of it’s still undervalued but it is surrounded by booming areas so there are still good deals to be had and you’re able to build equity quickly.

  • This is yummo news! I cannot wait for this beautiful new development. Yum. That area has been blighted by bloodshed and poverty for far too long. A victim of racial neglect and ignorance for many years, it will rise like a phoenix.

  • I agree with PoP’s sentiment that you’d better like it just the way it is, because the planned developments are going to happen very, very slowly. If you do like it as-is, that’s wonderful; if you’re looking for a place to gentrify overnight, you’ll be disappointed.

  • Am i the only one who feels a bit uneasy walking the blocks between sherman and georgia? i don’t get that feeling west of sherman or east of georgia. i know “sketchy” is thrown around an awful lot, but this would be an apt description, no?

    • Depends on the street. Kenyon and Irving are not sketchy at all, pretty yuppified actually. Harvard and Columbia, less so, maybe could be labeled “sketchy”. It’s block by block as is common in a lot of this area.

    • Isn’t it forbidden to say (or hint at) anything bad about any DC neighborhood on this blog? 😉 (just kidding, folks!)

      There will be tons of homeowners who will jump to the defense of this, or any other area. Kudos to the homeowner who admitted bias.

      But, seriously, it’s a mixed bag, and depends on your comfortability and perceptions. On balance, I’d guess that it’s probably an area that will get better. Live where you’re comfortable is my advice.

      • As the admittedly biased home owner, I completely agree with Ed – it depends on your comfort level and perceptions. Even though it isn’t a threatening thing, I can can tell you I get cat called a whole lot less walking those blocks than I do on 14th!

  • I think that the neighborhood is a long way off from any kind of dramatic take-off. It depends exactly where, I would think the closer to Petworth Metro the better. But neither Sherman Avenue nor Georgia Avenue have changed much in the last decade. Sherman suffers from a lot of vacant, decrepit structures, and it doesn’t have much really nice housing stock that would make it attractive to investors the way other parts of Columbia Heights have been.

    Over by Georgia the Park Morton housing project is a big crime magnet. That is supposed to be redone sometime soon but that’s been the case for as long as I can remember.

    In a ten-year timeframe, it’s probably a decent bet that it will improve somewhat, but that’s a long time.

    As someone else said, don’t buy there unless you like things the way they are now, because it’s not likely they will change dramatically any time soon. But there are without a doubt some very nice streets and wonderful parts of the neighborhood. Move there if you like it for what it is – just don’t expect to make a lot of money on your house if you move in five years.

    • “I think that the neighborhood is a long way off from any kind of dramatic take-off.” I would go a step further and say ‘the dramatic take-off’ or the level of development from 1999 -2008 will likely never return, that was just a special time. Even with the neighborhood ‘as is’ the access you get to U Street , the Metro, Downtown at the Pleasant Plains price point seems like a bargain and a good long-term investment. No I am not a resident and I still think it is a great bargain. If they ever break ground on the Howard Town Center w/ a high quality market as an anchor Pleasant Plains easily gets an instant 10 – 15% equity bump. Too optimistic??

  • I can recommend Keefer Place.

  • I’m not getting my hopes up about the streetscape project and other promised development in this economy, but it is still a pretty darned nice place to live. The quality of the homes and crime issues are, as people say, very block-by-block. I would highly recommend doing a walkaround at night in the neighborhood every night for a week and seeing how you feel about it. But I own here quite happily. It’s very close to 11th street development, very close to Howard, pretty close to U street and Petworth happenings. And there are quite a lot of lovely, well-maintained homes on many blocks.

  • We bought last year on Keefer Place and love living here. There are new people buying and moving in every month.

  • I think this neighborhood is a good bet. Eastward movement of renovation from more developed neighborhoods is inevitable and good. (Insert anti-gentrification comments here)

    I bought a 3 bedroom condo in CH in 1987 with the idea of living rough for 6-8 years with roomates and eventually being able to sell and buy a house – (also with roommates to afford.) It took much longer (20 years) but worked out slightly better than anticipated.

    Houses here do tend to be smaller however, only 2 realistic bedrooms and with tiny basements, so that does limit the potential.

  • buy, i live 1/2 block west of sherman and the gentrification will keep moving east esp when 11th street night life keeps developing.

  • I bought in Pleasant Plains 7 years ago this month. At the time there were two drug dealers living on my block and another doing business in a garage in the alley. They are all gone and the neighborhood has continued to improve. There are a lot of neighbors like us who need affordable housing and can’t afford to do a major renovation straight off but block gets a little more improved every year. It’s not perfect and may never be but there are definitly better times ahead for this neighborhood.

  • it is a really bad time to buy because you’re banking on development. or a streetcar. or a bar. or anything
    things may even get worse.

  • Here since late 2006. A mixed bag, but I’m delighted to have earned the nickname above while walking these streets. I am faintly hopeful about Georgia Avenue. Given the two dentists (Drs Roxborough and Choudhury), the YogaHouse studio, CVS, and senior center, and of course the strong local hospitals, I think it would be possible to envision it as a health/wellness corridor. Maybe this could happen with a dance or martial arts studio, or small gym, or something like a vegetarian restaurant. We’ve already seen the ECAC and BloomBars convert empty shells of buildings into creative grass-roots arts agencies. I don’t see why that couldn’t happen on Georgia Avenue.

    Seems like the key to Giant’s success on Park Road is the ability to target three (or more) niche markets: Black, white, and Latin. Seems like a business needs to have a bit of a following in each of these demographics to grow around Georgia Avenue.

    I have no complaints about the side streets, except as already mentioned, some of the housing stock was built for workers (textbook “mixed income development”). It’s hard to envision putting down roots in such a small home. However, the cost of living is excellent ($19 electric bills…)

    The OP should consider similar neighborhoods: Shaw, LeDroit, Bloomingdale, Eckington, fringes of Capitol Hill, or Brookland, Petworth, Takoma Park — and see where the best value and atmosphere can be found! Welcome.

Comments are closed.