Dear PoPville – Anyone Live in NoMa?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Vileinist

Dear PoPville,

I currently live in a group house in Columbia Heights but at the end of my lease this fall, I am planning to move in with my girlfriend. We have a small dog which makes apartment shopping a bit more difficult (and expensive) and we don’t have gads of cash to spend on a penthouse in Dupont. We recently found a gorgeous apartment with all sorts of frills in the NoMa neighborhood (it’s on the metro sign now… time to give in) that is within our price range. We love the place and understand that NoMa is getting lots of attention from developers and the like, but it is currently no Columbia Heights. How do people feel about this neighborhood? It would be convenient in terms of transportation for us, and we like the idea of being able to walk down to H street to go out, but we will certainly miss the days of the 11th street stretch in CoHi. Apartment amenities of the new place are also a huge draw (pool, gym, dog park) as we have never lived in a place that had these things. Our only concern is that the area is less walk-able and a bit higher crime. Do people like living in NoMa?

I actually recommend NoMa to folks all the time. As you noted there is tons of development coming but what I love most about it is the location. It’s like in the center of it all. You’re super close to H Street but also not terribly far from U Street (especially if you get a bike). It’s the best of both worlds. Because there is so much newer development I don’t think you’ll get that 11th St feeling that you had in Columbia Heights but I wouldn’t hesitate to move there if you found a nice apartment. I also don’t think the crime is higher there at all. I think you should go for it!

For the folks that live in NoMa – where do you find you hang out most – H Street? If so – do you walk there? Bike? Any advice for someone thinking of moving to the neighborhood?

80 Comment

  • 1) NoMa rocks.

    2) Columbia Heights has one of the highest crime rates in the city. I’ll let other commentors pull out numbers, etc, but I would wager that NoMa has a much lower rate of violent crime and theft.

    3) You’re only a mile and a half from the great part of 11th St. Get on one of the 90 busses and hop off at 11th and U. There you are. DC is not that big…

  • Not a NoMa resident per se, but just north in Eckington here…

    NoMa strikes me as a very vibrant place to be during the weekday… Lots of new construction and decent places to eat or grab a coffee. Otherwise, not a whole lot going on. You’re pretty close to H Street, so that’s a plus but there isn’t much in the way of nightlife just yet in NoMa (besides the trashy nightclubs on Patterson St). You will probably be going to other neighborhoods for the time being. I come to NoMa primarily for the Harris Teeter (Best grocery chain in DC IMHO) as well as the Tynan coffee shop there, but I’m afraid that’s about it.

    Check out the post PoP did last month about Zuppa Fresca – it was one of the only sit-down eateries in the NoMa area but it closed. As for crime, it’s definitely present, but you’re in the city so you should expect that kind of stuff at any time. All the areas leading up to the Metro station and office buildings are very well lit and since there are government buildings nearby expect a decent amount of security/police presence.

    • It is apparent that you basically stay in a one block area surrounding Harris Teeter and the Metro. There are actually quite a few places to eat and grab coffee in the area – Ebenezer’s, Boundary Road, Sidamo, Big Board, Ethiopic. Also, Zuppa Fresca had many more problems than location. Walk a few blocks and you have all the Senate side restauants too. NoMa haters – Do people not walk in this city anymore? Even when I lived in NW I didn’t only go to the places I could see from my apartment.

      • calm down. he said he lives in Eckington. I do also, and generally just walk through NOMA near the Harris Teeter area. Believe it or not, we do venture outside of a block radius of home, but many of us walk over to Bloomingdale, U Street, etc.

      • I wouldn’t consider any of those places you’ve listed as NoMa. That’s H St. I think of Noma as the Teeter at ground zero and spiraling outward toward Gallaudet.

      • You listed a bunch of stuff that isnt in NoMa. The fact is, NoMa lacks a lot of options for the number of residents they want to attract.

        • Despite your strict adherence to geographic boundaries, all the stuff mentioned is a couple of blocks from noma. Perhaps you don’t know how close it is?

          • Someone living at 1 & M NE or 2 & L NE certainly isn’t a couple blocks from Big Board, Boundary Road, or Sidamo.

      • What part of “Not a NoMa resident per se, but just north in Eckington here…I come to NoMa primarily for the Harris Teeter” did you not comprehend/read?

  • Lower crime than Columbia Heights for sure… because it’s kind of a ghost town.

  • Agree – we’ve decided the same and are moving into Eckington area in the beginning of August. Close to a lot of great places and some great, affordable spaces to live.

  • I live on the edge of “NoMa” in the Senate Square building on 3rd and H Street NE. I love it – I have access to all the new things opening on H Street NE, Cap Hill, and Union Station/Metro is practically across the street. The only people hating on NoMa are car-less folks that their life entirely in a 6 block radius up in NW.

  • I’ve lived in NoMA for the past 3 years, and I just signed another lease. I love the area and the community.
    Although there is a lack of restaurants in NoMA proper, there are plenty of options down H St, on Capitol Hill (a 15 minute walk to Eastern Market) and in Chinatown (a 5 minute bus ride on the X2). Plus you are close to Union Station where you can pick up 2 different Circulator routes.
    The area has only gotten better over the past few years. Harris Teeter is a great grocery store, a new (clean!) urgent care center just opened, the NoMA bid regularly sponsors events such as movie nights and the weekly farmers market.

    You really can’t go wrong with this great neighborhood!

    • Also! Union Market will be opening in the next few months, and it will be another great place to get groceries & to eat great food. It’s a win-win for all!

    • Are you sure it’s only a 15-minute walk to Eastern Market? I live there, and it takes me 20 minutes to walk to H Street. I think getting from NoMa to Eastern Market would be more like a 30 minute walk (but a very pleasant one).

      • Yeah, Googlemaps pegs it as a 37 min (1.8 mile) walk from 1st and M NE to Eastern Market. Maybe you could do it in 30 min if you walk briskley. The Senate Square building is more like 1.3 miles and a 20 min or so.

        NOMA is still a neighborhood of the future. Not to say its a bad place to live. But, its not currently a “vibrant urban” neighborhood in the Dupont/Logan,central Bos/SF/Chi/Philly sense.

        • Dupont/Logan’s more like a neighborhood of the past. I’m not sure I’d call it vibrant anymore.

          • I guess you can argue on whether Dupont/Logan are not vibrant. Compared to the UWS or SoHo they are pretty sleepy.

            But, compared to NOMA they have far more going on in terms of pedestrian activity, retail, restaurants in the immediate vicinity. Plus, there will be far more activity within a 20-30 min walking distance than there is from NOMA.

          • Hahahahahahaha

          • Oh yeah, I wasn’t tying to say that Dupont is more vibrant than NoMa, but it seems like an odd choice of neighborhood to be using as an example of a place that’s vibrant. Unless, of course, you have lived here since the 80’s and haven’t updated your perceptions.

          • I must have a different definition of vibrant, but from my perspective Logan and DuPont are still of the most vibrant areas of town. Few areas have more going on.

            If you mean cool, I might agree with you though.

    • Is the new urgent care center in the CVS? If not, can you let me know where it is? I and other inquiring Eckingtonite minds would like to know!

  • Sounds a lot like Crystal City from all these descriptions

    • Nah, it’s not quite that bad! And I’m guessing it’s less expensive also.

      • I think comparing the neighborhood north of Mass. (“NoMa” is a ridiculous name) to Crystal City is accurate… Except Crystal City has more to offer in the way of restaurants. Everybody likes different things, so if the newer high-rises are your thing, that’s cool. But it’s a stretch to call the area “vibrant” (that word has lost all meaning in these neighborhood discussions) and saying the area isn’t as “bad” as Crystal City reveals a basic bias in analysis.

        • You’re right that it depends on what you’re looking for. If you want to be able to walk to a strip of restaurants then CC is stronger in that regard. The immediate area surrounding NoMa seems pretty quiet, but the thing this location has going for it is that it’s centrally located within the city and therefore very accessible to most parts of it.

        • Why is NoMa any more ridiculous than “Petworth” or “Trinidad” or “Palisades”? Because its shorter? Because its newer? All names were new at some point. Who cares? What do you prefer? Constantly saying the “area east of North Capitol, South of Florida, and North of Massachusetts”? Swampoodle hasnt been used for a century, so its comparatively just as new as NoMa.

          • Swampoodle sounds so silly.

          • figby

            They used to call the area east of the WH “Murder Bay”

            I work in NoMa, and I find it a little depressing and sometimes menacing. I hate to have to work at night. The crime in the area is very real. You should talk to your GF about it and make a plan so she’s not trekking home late by herself from the Metro.

            And yes –yeah OK! Got it! I know that’s every part of the city. But still — be safe.

          • “NoMa” is ridiculous because it’s a blatant ripoff of “SoHo” & similar New York neighborhoods. Why can’t lazy real estate developers come up with something original? I know DC loves to copy New York in food trends, but being original would be better.

  • what apt building do you speak of? is the dog park part of it? that’d be sweet!

    • The apartment I would be moving to is Flats 130. Gorgeous building, and the dog park is a part of the building. It isn’t very big, but for our small dog seems great and it’s just right outside in the back of the building!

    • Rooftop dog park at Senate Square too

  • Keep in mind that the 80 bus goes up and down North Capitol. Jump out anywhere north of Florida and you’re at Bloomingdale. We’ve got some great restaurants and more on the way! Also, Jam Doung Style, the Jamaican place on North Cap and R, is fantastic. I also hear Mr. Chips on North Cap and something-or-other is good, too.

    • I live In bloomingdale too. I’m amused by your cheer leading but if you don’t live in bloomingdale why would you come to bloomingdale? Jam doung is fine. Rustik is just a neighborhood joint. Big bear is too busy. The draw for people outside the neighborhood is not enough.

      Noma and h just have way more going on.

      • I’ll agree to a point about H, though a lot of their places are pretty over rated.

        But, why do you think that people in NOMA would stay in NOMA instead of go to Bloomingdale? What is there to do in NOMA after 7pm? Thats its biggest draw back. You can go to a hotel bar, hotel restaurant, Fur, or the grocery store after 7pm.

        • There are two reasons I think that.
          The first is the proximity to h street.
          The second is the shitty intersection of Florida and north Capitol.

          • Even people who live in the H St area dont only go to H St, so I think Bloomingdale and the shaw area thats pushing east from 7th is an increasingly big draw.

            Yes, that intersection sucks, but plenty of people in Bloomingdale and Eckington go south of it, so its not the bermuda triangle. 7th and Florida is no picnic, either, and people manage.

  • I think that the trepidation people feel about NoMa can best be summed up by Dan Aykroyd portraying Austin Milbarge in the 1985 super-smash-cult-classic Spies Like Us, “We mock what we don’t understand.”

    Come down and visit us in NoMa and decide for yourself.

  • I’ve lived in NoMa for a little more than a year – I’d recommend it to anyone looking to have access and enjoyment of city life without the price of Dupont.

    Access to H Street and Chinatown is fantastic, I bring a lot of people to nearby Kushi for dinner and drinks. As the post says, location is key- access to red line has made my commute a 20-minute hop (contingent on Metro’s woes) and with the HT on the block my grocery shopping is a breeze. The OP’s description makes it seem like we live in the same building- having a grocery store literally downstairs is far-and-above better than the other neighborhood/building I survived in DC.

  • I work in NoMa sometimes, we have a branch office there and several of my co-workers both work & live in the neighborhood. It’s a pretty good neighborhood during the day. West of NoMa is Sursum Corda, across NY Ave is the Hyde Street neighborhood – both are very high crime areas and sometimes bad kids migrate over; we’ve had a recent bank robbery and some shootings on 1st st NE and at the NY Ave Metro after hours. The Met Branch Trail is also pretty sketchy near here, with several shootings & muggings of cyclists going north toward Rhode Island. The neighborhood to the East, toward Gallaudet and over to Montana (or is it West Virginia) is generally pretty good. There are a few drug houses on L St. and once a month or so there’s an incident at one of them – at least if the police tape around a house and multiple cruisers is anything to go by – but it seems like a decent neighborhood and there is a lot of gentrification going on.

    The comments about low crime & wonderful wonderfulness of it all are pretty funny; several of my co-workers have been mugged after hours in the last year. On the balance – okay place to live if I was a single guy, but right now still another exhibit in the case for living in the ‘burbs. If I wanted to be in the area I’d look for a house b/t/w Senate Place and Gallaudet and not worry about the couple of drug dealers. It looks like most of the crime in that area is just dealer-on-dealer sort of thing versus kids from the projects & Section 8 housing preying on upscale workers.

  • I think NoMa is great, walking distance to Eastern Market, the mall and Chinatown, plus there’s tons to offer on H Street as well as easy access to 395 and the BW Parkway. Dupont’s restaurant scene is definitely on the down-swing and most of the bars are intern-caliber. If that’s what youre into (and somehow believe that Columbia Heights has higher crime than NoMa), NoMa is probably not for you.

  • I’m not a huge fan of “NoMa” (as you can tell, I haven’t given in yet…), but I’d definitely concur with others on the crime question. I think it is probably safer than Columbia Heights, particularly in the areas directly around the fancy apartment buildings. In terms of the bigger question, I’d still say go for it. NoMa may not be for me, but it is hugely convenient. You have the metro and the 90/92 right there, you have the Harris Teeter and CVS at 1st and M, and with those amenities in your building, if you can afford it it’s probably worth it. The summer screen is also a fun series of events (and very dog friendly!). If you want places to go out or with more of a neighborhood feel, H St, Bloomingdale and Shaw are within walking distance or very easy biking distance (and there are bikeshares everywhere). I think there is more nearby than you think. And as other commenters have mentioned, U St, Adams Morgan and the south end of Columbia Heights are all easy to get to on the 90/92. Finally, as far as being walkable, there are some annoying intersections in that area, but they do have pedestrian lights and it’s actually quite close to things you might want to walk to. I walk to and from the area all the time from Bloomingdale, and I also sometimes get off at the NYAve stop and walk to H St from there if I’m coming directly from work.

  • Less walkable to what? Bed and Bath? Well, hop on the redline to Chinatown. It’s walkable to downtown and the Mall and Capitol Hill. There’s great bike accessibility, too. Regarding crime, it’s probably equal to CoHi. But nobody will be breaking into your lux apt. I have heard that some residents have issue from noice from Ibiza, so you may want to avoid an apt. with windows that face the nightclub.

  • brookland_rez

    Add me to the list of Noma fans. I rented a house on Parker St near Senate Square from 2006-2008. So I’ve seen this area go from nothing to being a quite nice neighborhood. I go back for the Harris Teeter, easily the best grocery store in NE. From 2008-2009, I lived in Eckington to the north and used the NY Ave metro stop exclusively. I love living in NE, and that whole area of Noma, Eckington, etc. is really hitting prime time now.

  • Just some very high level stats on crime (per MPD crimemap):

    All statistics are for within 1500 ft of the address, and for the past year.

    11th St in Columbia Heights 3412 11th St NW:
    Total Violent Crime: 142
    Total Property Crime: 514
    Total Crime: 656 which is up 12% from the previous year

    NoMA 1100 1st St NE:
    Total Violent Crime: 130
    Total Property Crime: 276
    Total Crime: 406 which is up 31% from the previous year

    I will let others interpret…

    • Columbia Heights is the densest neighborhood in DC, with an order of magnitude more residents than Noma. Comparing their respective raw crime numbers doesn’t tell you much of anything.

      • NOMA has a ton of working population. I’m not sure the columbia heights population argument gets you as far as you think. The reason crime is up so much in NOMA is because there are so many more people. Even this time last year, there were half if not 1/4th as many people around at all times of the day.

        I feel more comfortable in NOMA than I do in any part of columbia heights.

        • I said the raw crime numbers don’t tell you much of anything, which is true. I’m not trying to reach any specific conclusion, and I don’t have an axe to grind.

  • I live in Eckington and when we were looking to buy looked at CH and NoMa. I’d choose NoMa over CH in a minute.

  • NoMa seems nice but it does have that feel of Crystal City but with a little more sketch surrounding it.

    It is a completely different vibe than Columbia Heights. With CoHi you will get more neighborhood and community interaction. With NoMa you will probably get more amenities due to the newness of the buildings and what the immediate area lacks right now though there are things close as with most central DC neighborhoods

    As Jordan pointed out, the crime is on the rise ( up 31%) in NoMa just like when any area starts attracting more affluent dwellers- more people with $ = more opportunity to rob…sad.

  • If you move to noma you will forget Columbia heights exists.
    You’ll start hanging out on h, in mount Vernon square, or Chinatown.

  • You should consider bloomingdale and eckington too, its the closest thing you’ll find to 11th Street over that way. Once all the businesses that are in the pipeline actually open, it’ll be the same general idea.

    • I think 11th had way more going on. At most the stretch of first streets will have
      Big bear
      Show time
      Red hen
      A bakery
      Boundary stone

      But that’s all that’s possible there.

  • Biggest perk is walking distance to Chinito buritto!!!!!

  • As a newer NoMa resident, let me echo what others have already said that it’s a great place to live and recommend it highly. I’ve lived in DC on and off for years thanks to my job and have stayed in every major neighborhood in the District as well as Bethesda and Arlington at this point. I chose NoMa this time around because of the ease of transportation and its location to Downtown and H St. I’m also completely spoiled by living above a grocery store! I’m now looking to buy for the first time and thinking very seriously about townhouses in the neighborhood versus the SE portion of Cap Hill or Shaw which had been my top areas before moving into NoMa.

  • Noma: cooler than living with your parents!

  • I’ve got nothing to ad on NoMa but will say that it’s incredibly cool that PoP has such a wide audience – as indicated by the number of posters who live in or near NoMa. I always think it’s a Petworth/Park View/Pleasant Plains thing, but clearly it’s not.
    Kudos to you and your site PoP!

    • Co-sign. PoP is so helpful. My husband and I are trying to decide where to buy. There are several neighborhoods we really like, but he commutes to Baltimore and his erratic schedule prevents him from relying on MARC. Needless to say, we’re in a holding pattern right now. I’m always scouring this site and the comments because I know I’ll get insightful ideas about the neighborhoods.

  • Actually, I do have something to say about NoMa. You say that it’s “no Columbia Heights.” You might want to consider the benefit of moving to one of the next developing neighborhoods, where you will get more for your money and be able to stay for awhile, as opposed to moving to a developed neighborhood like Columbia Heights where you’ll be paying more for less and may find yourself priced out in shorter order. Just a thought.

  • We bought on K Street over a year ago and couldn’t be happier. Wonderful neighbors, and our friends in the area who are renting are looking to buy. Yes, there are robberies, but I generally don’t feel unsafe walking around. Definitely family friendly if you two are aiming to go down that road 😉

  • It’s cool if you like living in an office park with two blocks of chain restaurants that are overcrowded during the day and desolate at night…And two night clubs, yippee! A Mcdonalds…wow so much stuff. I love creepy warehouses and empty lots.

  • Everything BUT proximity to H Street are reasons to try out the neighborhood, I’d say. H Street is the worst. So lame. Good luck!

  • I’d like to comment on everyone who says that it’s safe for a single guy, but watch out for the girlfriend. My husband and I moved to Flats over a year ago, and I haven’t had any problems or worries as far as crime. You do what you should do in ANY part of a city, watch your back, stay aware of your surroundings, etc. And, if you are moving to Flats, the walk from/to the metro is FEET.

  • NoMa is great! It has a strong community feel, even though it’s still an “up and coming” area. My husband and I have lived at Flats 130 for almost a year now. It is WONDERFUL to have the metro a half a block away, a Harris Teeter under you, and a dog park so that you don’t have to go to the street level to walk your dog at night. The rent is a little high, but the convenience and amenities make it worth the money.

    We usually walk or take a quick cab ride over to H Street to go out. Also, Chinatown is only a few stops away! H Street is also a great place to have a weeknight dinner, too! There are also great dinner spots on K Street, which is also within walking distance.

    With new apartment building and condos going up in every direction of NoMa, it’s sure to continue growing as a vibrant and close-knit community. An added bonus is that it’s a pet-friendly area!

    NoMa BID also has a Farmer’s Market, shows movies on a lawn called “Screen on the Green” and various other activities that you can get involved with.

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