Dear PoP – Rosedale/Kingman Park Opinions

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“Dear PoP,

Can you and/or your loyal readers tell me anything about the safety and quality of life in the Rosedale/Kingman Park area? This neighborhood is south of H Street/Benning Road NE and east of, say, 15th Street. It extends about six blocks to the East, ending at Oklahoma Ave, skirting the western edge of Anacostia Park.

Let me tell you a bit about myself. Having raised my kids, I am newly divorced and will be living alone with my dog. The investment value of the property I buy is extremely important to me; I make a modest living as a writer and editor and am not able to put aside a lot for savings. I hope to live at least 10 years in the house I buy. It must not go down in value, must go up at least apace of inflation, and hopefully more. Hopefully a lot more. I would be open to improving the house to achieve this goal.

But I do have to be able to live there (i.e., no shells) and feel safe. I don’t care about the color or ethnicity of my neighbors, as long as they take care of their kids and take care of their homes. I don’t need or want a huge house (too much maintenance!) but my dog and I do need green space, even a little bit, to feel at home.

That Rosedale area is attractive because of its proximity to H Street (I soooo love SoVa) and the coming light rail. It has two parks. The houses are still reasonable, allowing room for growth in property value.

BUT who lives there? What is it like at night? Much crew activity? Crew-on-crew violence counts as violence in my book. I don’t want bullet holes in my car.

I’m by myself, a single woman. Can I take my dog out in the dark if I need to? Can I ride my bike by myself?

Don’t be afraid to be brutally frank. Won’t you please ask your readers for help?”

For those who live in or nearby – what’s your no holds barred opinion of the area?

41 Comment

  • My partner and I (two women) won’t live east of the H St./Benning Rd. intersection. Our realtor (who for legal reasons can’t explicitly speak for the crime in a particular area) has sort of indicated that things get sketchy around there and we should avoid it. I’ve always felt this way as well.

    • I suggest people look at the crime map and visit the area for themselves, rather than relying on feelings/assumptions. Our realtor indicated she thought we were nuts for looking in Rosedale– we later found out she had never been there or even researched the area. This kind of uninformed speculation is probably the biggest reason why it is still possible to buy a cheap house in Rosedale/Kingman Park.

      After seeing the housing stock, the price we paid for our 3-bedroom house, and the plans I pulled for the new streetcar/starburst intersection/rec center, the realtor is now suggesting the area to clients who would like to live on H but are already finding themselves priced out of the market west of 15th.

      • Rather than look at crime maps, I think it’s best to go there during various times of day and go with your gut instinct. If it doesn’t feel safe, it probably isn’t.

        • It isn’t an either-or, I suggested doing both. I certainly wouldn’t suggest going purely by what the crime map says.

          Speaking strictly for myself, I wouldn’t know how to “feel” how safe a neighborhood is when shopping for real estate and I find the crime statistics helpful, especially when trying to remain objective.

          Sherman Circle probably felt safe yesterday.

  • The only time I’ve ever been in Rosedale/Kingman Park was to pick up our car, which had been stolen, after the cops found it ditched on 24th Street NE off Benning. While waiting for the crime scene technicians to show up and take one fingerprint sample, we talked to a few people who lived there. They said the neighborhood is a frequent dumping ground for stolen cars because it’s a bit out of the way and the car thieves know the car won’t be noticed until they’re long gone.

  • In any gentrifying neighborhood you are going to have neighbors who won’t, or can’t afford to take care of their homes. that comes with territory.

    • I think that’s any neighborhood. If a place is gentrifying it may be more apparent, but you always have people who neglect their property. In declining neighborhoods, there is less incentive, be it common sense(depreciating values). In gentrifying neighborhoods, there is a mix. In nicer/wealthier neighborhoods, there are always those who do less than others in terms of upkeep, certainly not common, but below the standards of their neighbors.

  • I live on 15th, which is the edge and I haven’t had any safety concerns. I will say that from 17th down, it does deteriorate. I think that area is a great long term investment, but you will have to careful of your surroundings. I have seen a lot of new families move into the area though, and there are some great old families there also.

  • Don’t know the relative housing prices between Eckington and Kingman Park, but you might want to check out the Eckington area. It sounds like it has a lot of what you are looking for, and prices are still reasonable. It is convenient to the NY Avenue metro and at least one bus line runs through.

  • Edges of the neighborhood are better than certain centralized clusters. Some people associate the southern edge (south of E or D) pretty much with eastern Capitol Hill expansion. Oklahoma Avenue as well is not so bad.

    Some blocks though are very ‘rough’ even during the day. Particularly just south of Benning. That will change quickly, but I suspect that the next 2-3 years in those blocks are for the true pioneers.

  • I just moved into the neighborhood–a little east of 16th and south of Benning. So far, I would say it seems to go block by block. I was uncomfortable at first, but in a little over two weeks, met half my neighbors and discovered that, for the most part, the neighborhood is safe and the people are nice, and its a pretty tight knit community. That said, but you have to be comfortable with the fact that things aren’t 100% (maybe not even 50% gentrified) yet. There are definitely some interesting characters in the neighborhood, but if I had the money, I would invest, though definitely closer to the western edge of the neighborhood.

    • “…met half my neighbors and discovered that, for the most part, the neighborhood is safe and the people are nice, and its a pretty tight knit community.”

      I used to live in one of those tight knit communities where most of the people were nice. Then, the crackhead that had been in and out of prison was released and moved back into his house at the end of the block. Immediately after that we were burglarized, with most of our possessions stolen or destroyed, and had crazy-looking men flashing their guns at us every time we stepped out of the house.

      It only takes one bad household to make a neighborhood unlivable.

  • p.s. I should also say that I am a single woman with a dog as well and do walk my dog at night–though my guard is always up when doing so.

  • Check for statistics. I found it helpful to compare areas I knew and liked with ones I was thinking of moving to.

    If you’re looking for an inexpensive area that will appreciate in value, maybe Anacostia? I like Congress Heights a lot, but Anacostia seems to be changing faster. The NE area near Stadium-Armory and SW between the Waterfront and Navy Yard metros are more expensive than far SE, but I like those neighborhoods a lot.

    • Agreed. Despite its reputation, I feel safer in Anacostia than I would in most of NE and (gasp) even some parts of NW.

  • Sure, it’s block by block. I’ve lived on 15th for a while. For the most part, have great neighbors. It’s a huge mix. Am moving 2 blocks further East, feels pretty similar. Also visited a place at 21st & Gales, though–great house but did not feel comfortable. For what it’s worth, I’m a woman, no dog, with bike as primary transportation.

  • Ha! I am sitting at sova right now. I live on the 1600 block of Gales Street and I just walked over to have a drink and use the internet. We recently moved in so I can’t speak with absolute authority, but here are my thoughts:

    Things are definitely ‘transitional’, ‘up and coming’, or whatever other real estate-ease term you like to describe an area that isn’t Georgetown, Dupont Circle, Cleveland Park, or Adams Morgan. That said, I haven’t seen much to justify the bad rap this neighborhood gets. It does go block by block– some blocks are a lot quieter than others.

    MPD has really cracked down in recent times and I think that has made a difference. So far it has been very quiet at night. Our neighbors are great.

    The Rosedale Recreation Center is being completely rebuilt (just today I saw them tearing down the old structure) with a new library, playing field, and pool. I think when the streetcar and starburst intersection are completed the area is going to change even more rapidly. Kingman Park Island and the Arboretum are just two hidden gems a few blocks away. It’s great to have the Safeway just across the road. You mentioned sova– I don’t think people have yet realized how close Rosedale is to everything on H. It’s literally just around the corner.

    We bought here because the crime map wasn’t any different than Columbia Heights and the prices were very, very reasonable. The housing stock is eclectic and we really enjoy living in a home that is unlike any other we’ve seen in the district.

    We did have burglar bars installed before moving in (I think this is necessary anywhere in DC) but we feel safe inside or in the the backyard/on the front porch at night. We don’t make a habit of strolling outdoors after 10 pm, but I think this will change in the coming years.

    An anecdote about crime: One night before we moved in, we drove our car to the house, parked on the street, and dropped some things off before going to a bar. After the bar we considered taking a taxi home but decided instead to see a movie and then drive the car back. We were concerned about leaving the car unattended in Rosedale. We got back to NW (Mount Pleasant) and parked the car. Next morning we found our window broken out.

    I’m just saying, the crime over here is exaggerated and I think a lot of people talk themselves into feeling safer in NW when they aren’t.

  • I’m a SWF and bought a house 1 year ago this month at 19th and H St NE – which is a block above Benning. My house was fully renovated – and the only thing I added was a new roof – it was purchased for $155K and it’s already been valued at $200K – actually higher, but I think the $250K it was appraised at is a bit much. Anyway – if you want return on your investment – then yes – Kingman/Carver is your area. With the trolley and now the luxe condos being built a block up from the Safeway – the value will continue to increase. As for your neighbors – yes – you have your Sect. 8s and your Meth recovery houses, but you also have a lot of gov’t retirees and old timey families. I pay $30 a month for a wireless alarm system I can operate remotely ( and I feel safe. Yes – the littering and the Yell-talking do get on my nerves – but the investment is worth it in my opinion. I walk or bus over to the bars and restaurants on H all the time – and am looking forward to the end of the construction – but otherwise easily enjoy all that is available. You could do worse.

  • Why don’t you go there at night and see for yourself? Only you know if you’re comfortable. As to whether it’s safe or not, no way in hell is it safe. It’s probably the worst neighborhood on this side of the river. (maybe Trinidad is worse.)

  • Every time I visit that neighborhood (15th and D NE, South Carolina Ave) I am reminded that I would pretty much draw the line at 15th St. NE is I ever moved there.
    I spent quite a bit of time looking for real estate in Rosedale and Trinidad, but there is a reason real estate there is so affordable. There were lots of nice families but too many dudes out on the sidewalks drinking out of a paper bag at 9 a.m.

  • Thanks to all who have taken the time to comment and advise. These are remarkable stories, really.

    Just to clarify, I did not mean that I expect my neighbors to do uniformly fancy and expensive renovations (ugh, what kind of urban community would that be?). But I would want to live in a neighborhood where people do basic maintenance to keep their homes safe and reasonably tidy. I think it damages the mental health of the whole community when even a few residents stop taking care of their homes.

    Also, to “Try Eckington?” may I say I started this odyssey with a lot of enthusiasm for that area, but grew discouraged after I started looking inside the houses. The neighborhood is still so spotty–and by that I mean house to house, not block to block. One house is beautifully tended, while the house next door is ravaged. Of course you also see that in Cleveland Park, Mt. Pleasant and Chevy Chase DC (not Chevy Chase MD, however). Still, I saw it more often than I wanted to in Eckington. I know of two families that have made their homes there, and all honor to them. But it does not feel right for me.

    Those of you who have moved into the Kingman Park area (why do they call it “Island” btw?)–do you see a similar challenge?

    Might as well ask something else I’ve wondered about. All over DC wherever there are rowhouses, you see porches lined up from one end of a block to the other like train cars. From any porch in the row you can see what is happening on everyone else’s porch. I find it striking that people rarely puts up a screen for privacy. Would that be seen as antisocial?

    Again, my thanks to all for your counsel.

    • Screens may increase privacy but also decrease safety. My neighbor had a screen up for a few months and it made me uncomfortable.

      I felt safer when I could see neighbor’s porches (& vice versa). Having an open view of the sidewalk was also a safety factor.

    • Remember that in most DC neighborhoods, the people who live in porched row houses grew up in the neighborhood or have lived there for dozens of years. They know their neighbors, and part of the reason is that they can sit on their porches and talk to the folks around them.

      Not only would putting up a screen be seen as anti-social, but it would be anti-social. It would make your neighbors uncomfortable, and it would cut them off from socializing with each other.

      If you want a private space, go to your back yard.

    • Kingman Island is one of two islands (the other is Heritage)in the middle of the Anacostia River. The main entrance to Kingman Island is just off of the RiverWalk south of Benning Road north of RFK Stadium. Great place to visit with your dog. The main thing you would need to watch out for are the off-leash dogs. Some folks let their dogs off as the big open area is a temptation. Go on a Saturday morning and stop at the farmer’s market. I am a single woman who has lived over here for 8 years. Easy to find parking, but then I am very close to Oklahoma Avenue. Seems as if everyone who moves in lately has at least one dog. Biking along the RiverWalk is great.

  • There is a Kingman Island Park on the Anacostia river off of Benning Rd, and Oklahoma Ave. It’s a bummer that you have to cross a hot parking lot to get to it. You can also hook up with the waterfront bike trail there.

    You will see screens in the more gentrified areas nearer Capitol Hill, but keep in mind that it gives the bad guys privacy too. If it’s open, you can see whats happening on your front porch as you approach the house.

    There’s a couple of really active community associations in Rosedale/Kingman Park and that’s always a terrfic asset.

  • I moved to the 1800 block of Gales Street, a block south of Benning Road, eight months ago and couldn’t be happier. Great neighbors, quiet block, and a whale of a bargain on the house. I’m a single woman who has walked her dog at night, walked home from bars on H often, and definitely ridden her bike around. I’ve had only good experiences. Are there houses (and landlords!) who don’t keep up their properties? Of course. Are there blocks where lots of folks hang out? Not mine, but nearby, yes. If you don’t want that, then you won’t be happy here. But I see houses all over the neighborhood that are being gutted and renovated, new bars and restaurants seem to open nearly weekly on H, and of course there’s the trolley, so I feel like Rosedale is a great investment. Plus, I just really love the friendly, neighborhood feel of the place.

  • I read this blog everyday and I’ve always enjoyed the posts about specific neighborhoods for the “insider” perspective on other parts of the city. I was actually flattered to see my neck of the woods spotlighted… until I read the comments. It seems the majority of the negative remarks are based on people’s perceptions from a one-time stop through as opposed to any actual time spent here. Not a criticism of anyone in particular, just a bit of an eye-opener for me.

    Since this is my ‘hood I’ll try to be as unbiased as possible in my remarks. I have been living in the Rosedale area just behind Miner ES for two years now (6 months as a renter and 18 months as a new home-owner).
    I absolutely love it here. It is a little rough around the edges and there are some blocks that are quieter and more tree-lined than others. But, overall, I think once you warm up to the place and have a chance to meet folks there is a real community feel to the area.

    I think pound for pound, this area is one of the best neighborhoods to invest in right now. We are close to a lot of great stuff and new development… blocks away from the all the good stuff happening along H Street and still not too far from Eastern Market/Capital Hill, Union Station, all the NOMA development, and a lot more. In the short time I have been here I’ve seen major changes and I do think the streetcars will help take it to the next level. Also, if you drive, there is plenty of Zone 6 parking and it’s very easy to get to 295.

    I think home values will only go up (I bought my home for under $130,000 and have seen similar homes sell recently for $180+). There are lots of old timers and the newer people who move here tend to be more working middle class folks… lots of government workers, teachers, etc and generally seems more like people planning to be here for a while.

    As far as safety goes, I personally have never felt unsafe when walking the neighborhood in the evening or even when coming home really late at night. But I try to be very aware of my surroundings and stick to the main streets for the most part. I think it depends on your own comfort level (to put things in perspective I am a male who grew up in DC). I tell my sisters and female friends that I wouldn’t let them travel alone in the area, but that’s just a personal choice and something I wouldn’t allow if I lived in any part of the city. I do feel there are too many “hang-out guys” as I call them (guys who seem to stand on the corner all day long), but I have found that MPD’s presence in the area is great and the officers are very responsive.

    I would definitely recommend investing in a home security system and the same for your car if you have one. I haven’t any car issues, but my home was burglarized right when I moved in before I had an opportunity to replace the doors and locks. Haven’t had any issues since.

    Overall, I think it’s a great place to live and will only get better. I’m looking forward to the new Rosedale Rec Center and Pool.

  • We (me/husband/toddler) recently looked to rent a wonderful rowhouse on Rosedale, but ultimately opted not to.

    The house itself was lovely and the owners were very similar to us in age/apparent values/careers/kid status, but at the end of the day we just didn’t feel comfortable enough. That said, I work from home and my husband is committed to taking public transportation to work. So, if we were driving everywhere and felt like there was more of a toddler/mom scene the grittiness of the neighborhood wouldn’t have bothered us. In the long run, it did, and we’re pretty used to transitional areas. I’m not saying we wouldn’t have found it to be a good place to have a young family (or live as a single woman) but we didn’t find it as compelling as, say, upper-upper NW/NE, closer to the Stadium, or even Eckington/Bloomingdale.

  • First and Foremost, I love my Kingman Park neighborhood!
    When I brought my home a few years ago, I was a SF.
    I knew I had a goldmine! My neighborhood is a hidden gem! Kingman Park/Rosedale is no different than any other neighborhood! Crime and drama is in every part of the city! All of the negative comments are not a fair view of the neighborhood! We have access to some many things, (Hst, Union Station, Eastern Market, RFK Stadium and National Ballpark) We have a Kingman Park/Rosedale Community Garden, Preventive Works that offer free Yoga/Mindfulness & Exercise Classes. The neigborhood has so much to offer! Sad some of the posters have sounded off wrong about a wonderful neighborhood! Email and me so you can come out for a visit. Kingman Park/Rosedale Neighborhoods Rock!

  • Kingman Park? Some folks have higher levels of Optimism than I could ever muster to live there. Not for me, no thanks. The terrain slopes down Northward towards H St NE, less sunshine during winter months, snow/ice takes longer to melt. If one has Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), look for places sloping Southward.

    Kingman Island? YUK! The 295 TRAFFIC NOISE made my visit as interesting as a visit of an interstate median. Oh the weed trees surrounded by toxic stagnant waters of Anacostia river? Just lovely… maybe if one took a hit of LSD.

  • I am single female and have lived in some pretty marginal neighborhoods in this city and one piece of advice I can give you in this particular neighborhood is be part of the solution not the problem. Learn to dial 911 and don’t look the other way like so many of your neighbors do. Don’t have to stand in the window for all to see and you don’t have to leave your name.

  • I’ve lived on 18th PL NE in between C and D for about four years. I actually really like the neighborhood, its a little more residential but still in city, there are old beautiful trees on most of the blocks, and it has a real sense of community. We’ve made some good friends in the area–especially through the Kingman Park-Rosdedale community garden. I’ve lived in Foggy Bottom, Adam’s Morgan, Logan Circle, and Columbia Heights, and this is by far my preferred neighborhood. Everywhere else, people come and go with the election years, whereas in Kingman Park and Rosedale, families have lived there for ages and the folks coming in plan on being there for a while.

    In terms of safety, I live on what a lot of people probably think is one of the sketchier blocks because people hang around on the street. The thing you have to keep in mind is that its just the culture, people hang around and socialize. They sit on lawn chairs and chat, play dominoes, etc. We’ve found that its just really important to be nice, say hello to everyone you walk by, and get to the folks who hang around. We’ve never had any problems with crime. The only thing that EVER happened to us was my wife’s unlocked bike was stolen from the backyard. But that’s it. My wife has dealt with catcalling, but its usually only from people driving by on C Street (the people on our block wouldn’t dare say a word to her!), and you will run into that anywhere in the city. I think that folks in the neighborhood look out for each other, and so long as you’re are respectful and nice, they’ll look out for you too.

    Annoyingly, the younger generation does litter constantly. Its a point of frustration for both the older generation who has always maintained their homes but are now getting a bit too old to keep up, and the new folks that are moving in and really taking care of their yards/streets (and we’ve been shocked by the number of new people moving in). All I can say is that we try to pick up the trash in the streets, people do notice, and it has gotten better.

    We expect great things with the nearby trolley line, the starburst intersection, and the new recreation center and library. Overall, I think its a great neighborhood if you’re looking for longer-term residents who share a sense of community.


    p.s. its also very dog friendly…we have two dogs and really enjoy going to the river-walk just down the street. Plus there is a dog park being built at Kingman Field on D and 13th!

  • It isn’t an either-or, I suggested doing both. I certainly wouldn’t suggest going purely by what the crime map says.

    Speaking strictly for myself, I wouldn’t know how to “feel” how safe a neighborhood is when shopping for real estate and I find the crime statistics helpful, especially when trying to remain objective.

    Sherman Circle probably felt safe yesterday.

  • I recently moved to the Kingman Park area, the section of streets from 21st to 25th. It’s a unique area as the neighborhood is very different from the Rosedale section next store. I love the wide streets, lined with trees on both sides. Though touch and go, the houses generally seem better maintained than some of the nearby areas. You also can get a larger townhouse with more floor space than you do elsewhere considering the money. Nearly all homes in those blocks have refinished back porches on the top and bottom floors that add two ‘bonus’ back sunrooms.

    As houses emerge for sale in this area, they are definitely being bought up for renovations. One house on 24th street was just recently gutted/flipped and is on the market for $369K (interesting to see what it will sell for). In looking for potential homes, we saw other renovated properties that sold very quickly in this area. We didn’t feel we could go wrong purchasing here as the property values can only improve from where they are right now.

    Most people have been extremely nice and welcoming. In fact, we’ve encountered far more friendliness than we did living smack in the middle of Capitol Hill and have already gotten to know a few neighbors. Yes, the neighborhood is ‘transitional’ but not to the point that I (female) feel like I can’t walk outside at night. Yes, we are careful and take precautions. I now drive to work rather than metro considering I work very late, and we’re installing a security system, but we don’t feel that the neighborhood is any more unsafe than many other areas of DC or the surrounding area north of H street that is selling for far more at the moment. We came to this conclusion by reviewing crime stats comparing various areas of Northeast, as well as thinking through how we ‘felt’ being in the neighborhood.

    There is a lot of optimism for the future of this area and I’m excited to be part of it. I do feel the streetcar will be beneficial and will drive some of the H street growth to expand down Benning Road. Over the long term, with the park, RFK stadium, Langston golf course, plus the Arboretum not too far away, this area has great potential for development. Reading through the comments, I feel some people are ‘scoffing’ at the neighborhood without really knowing how it changes/looks/feels block for block, and without really understanding the changes that are already underway.

  • I have lived there for eight years so far and I haven’t heard of any crimes being committed near me. People are polite and friendly when your out and about.

  • I recently purchased a house in this area and I have to say it’s quiet most of the time. This area is developing more and more every day. Bars, restaurants, shops, and railcars slated to be up and running along Benning RD/H Street very soon. What more can you ask for?? The houses are reasonably priced and have tons of potential. As far as Crew issue they generally hang around apartment buildings not so much the more residential streets. If I see them around which I do from time to time I call 311 non emergency dispatch and report them for loitering. Needless to say in any urban environment you just have to be cautious careful and most importantly use common sense. Great area even greater investment potential!! Check out Capital City Diner, Amazing!

  • As I sad above, I just moved to the area and am appreciating it more & more everyday. I’m actually amazed to see how many commenters live in the area as well. Sounds like the next POP meetup needs to happen in H St NE so I can meet all these great local people!

  • I purchased a home on Rosedale near Miner ES and I LOVE my new home. I can walk to H Street and the nearby shopping center. The street is pretty tame for the most part with the exception of the yell-talking (first time I heard that term but accurate description). I say go for it…I got my place for less than $100k and it needed very little work. It’s worth nearly three times that amount…once the trolley comes those bargains will be a thing of the past.

  • To the Kingman/Rosedale residents: I am curious, where are the open green spaces most residents congregate? Are there any successful open spaces, other than the one community garden, that provides a residential park feel, or is there a need for more open programmed park space for these residents? Maybe a pocket park system would encourage a more livable walkable community, and in turn provide a much safer feeling to the streetscape. Are there any thoughts on how this community would benefit to more rec space, both passive and active recreation? I notice there is an abundance of vacant lots, if these spaces were utilized as temporary parks, would the community activity in these spaces keep the spaces alive or would they fall into another blighted neglected property? I am currently working on a park system project for the Kingman/Rosedale neighborhood and would greatly appreciate all and any input.

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