Living in Brookland?

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Topic: Living in Brookland?

General Discussion June 14, 2012 at 10:50 am

Living in Brookland?

I am currently living in Columbia Heights, but am looking to possibly move this summer.  A lot of the apartments I have found that are actually in my price range are in Brookland.  I have read about the neighborhood in passing, but beyond that I don’t know a whole lot about it.  Can anyone who lives in Brookland give a general sense of the neighborhood?  Are there adequate grocery stores, any good restaurants, and if this stuff is there, is it easy to get to for those without a car?  I have heard it is a fairly quiet but there is somewhat of a crime problem (although nothing out of the ordinary for DC).  Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

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great place to get  your d wet


I used to live in Columbia Heights and moved to Brookland two years ago. Brookland is a much quieter neighborhood that is more car-centric than Columbia Heights, but one by no means needs a car. As far as a “crime problem,” you shouldn’t be too concerned about that because Columbia Heights has far more crime than Brookland. What I will say is that getting groceries and making other purchases is much more of an ordeal in Brookland than Columbia Heights. I lived at 16th and Park in Columbia Heights and it was two blocks to Target, Giant, and just about anything I needed. By contrast, Brookland does not have a true grocery store, although there is a Yes Organic Market (overpriced brands you’ve never heard of) and the Newton Street Market (small selection of very basic groceries). To do serious grocery shopping one has to go to Giant near the Rhode Island Ave Metro or Harris Teeter by the New York Ave (“NoMa”) Metro. Personally, I don’t have a car and typically end up using a Zipcar when I need to do my grocery shopping, but if you do own a car then groceries won’t be much trouble for you. There is a CVS which carries your normal CVS-stuff, but besides that there are few options for picking-up everyday items in the neighborhood. 
I wouldn’t describe Brookland as a “happening neighborhood” yet, but it is certainly on its way. Construction has begun on the enormous Monroe Street Market development which will bring some great things to the neighborhood, and within a few months the 901 Monroe development will begin contruction which will eventually bring more retail choices. As far as restaurants are concerned, there is San Antonio which serves acceptable Mexican food and a new pizza place called Menomale which rivals Two Amys on Wisconsin Ave. The rest of the food is delivery pizza places and carry-outs, some of which have decent food and some of which are pretty nasty. If you move very soon, Colonel Brooks Tavern is also an option, but they will be closing any day now to make way for a development. 
I do wonder what apartments you are looking at in Brookland. The main apartment complexes that come to mind are Brookland Ridge and The Cloisters, neither of which is easily walkable from the Metro station. Personally, I wouldn’t consider living in either of those complexes unless I had a car or didn’t mind walking a mile to the Metro. I live in a house which I have rented for two years thats two blocks from the Metro station and is affordable by DC standards, but I don’t think there are too many genuine apartment complexes anywhere near the Metro. If access to the Metro is important to you, make sure you do a test-walk from whatever apartment you are considering to the Metro.
Brookland is a neighborhood that is going through some growing-pains much like other neighborhoods in DC. An influx of young professionals in recent years has been distressing to some long-time residents, especially the elderly, and from time to time one will encouter veiled or overt hostility if you appear to be a “gentrifier”. That said, in the two years I have lived here, Brookland has taken some huge steps towards becoming a more walkable and desirable neighborhood, and within a few years the area near the Metro will be virtually unrecognizable from what it looks like today.
In sum, if you like trees and parks and don’t mind treking to make your purchases, then this is a good neighborhood for you… if you thrive on the buzz of the city and enjoy the convenience of being able to buy anything within a few blocks of your home, Brookland is a poor choice. 

hey indyfan – i had a great response all typed up for you and then my cmoputer did something and I lost it. So, I will try to re-type everything but will probably forget some details. I’ve lived in Brookland for almost a year now and I love it. Not sure if it matters, but I am a single, young female and I used to live in Adams Morgan/Kalorama on Columbia Road.
To answer your questions, I think this is a great neighborhood that a lot of people overlook because it’s not in NW, DC. It is definitely quiet – and it took me a long time to get used to that aspect. It feels like a well established, family oriented neighborhood that has a good mix of classes and races. I love the greenery in the area and I live very close to the Turkey Thicket Rec center where I can use the outdoor track, pool or tennis courts for free.
I have never felt unsafe or been concerned for my safety – even when coming home late. If anything, sometimes it has felt a little too quiet – and I do wonder if people would hear me or help if something were to happen. If I come home after midnight, I try to take the bus even though I’m only on it for 3 minutes because the quietness can be a little spooky. But I’ve also walked many times and I have felt perfectly fine.
In terms of grocery stores – there’s a YES Organic on 12 street (that is in easy walking distance depending on where you live) and there’s a CVS as well. Otherwise, you would need a car or to take the bus elsewhere. The YES store has everything but it’s expensive. If you’re willing to do it, you can stop at the NY Ave metro on the redline and go to the Harris Teeter to pick up stuff and then hop back on the train. Or you could bike there. There’s also a (very small but nice) Farmer’s Market every Tuesday from 5 -7pm I think.
Restaurants – sorry but this is one drawback for the area. There’s very few options and they are mainly on 12 street. There’s Brookland Cafe (tiny place but good food), San Antonio’s Mexican Bar and Grill (never been but I hear it’s decent), Silvestre Cafe (best rotiserrie chicken I’ve ever had) and your usual chinese/pizza/sub fast food places.
In terms of having   a car – it would certainly make your life easier in terms of going grocery shopping, going out and the like but I dont think it’s a must. Taking the bus is a great option – several lines run through the neighborhood and by the metro station. There’s a bike share station on 12th street too if you’re willing to do that. I will say that relying on public transportation during the weekend can be hugely frustrating with all of the Metro single tracking/delay/station closed shenanigans. I tend to rely on the bus more for the weekends – getting a smartphone and downlaoding an app that gives best estimates of bus arrival times has been a life saver.
I love the neighborhood but it does have it’s negatives. For me all the positives – including paying less for a 2 bedroom apt now than what I paid when I lived in Adams Morgan make it well worth it. I would advise that you visit the area during the day time and during the night to get a good sense of the area.

I agree almost completely with the previous two answers. My fiance and I moved to Brokland in 2005, and we love it. Development projects currently underway will bring much needed retail opportunities, more lively and concentrated people presence (i.e. people walking around the neighborhood), and hopefully inspire some additional new opportunities along 12th Street (the historic retaul strip). There is also an increasingly promising scene for local artists (see ArtSpace) and the under-construction Arts Walk

I bought my house in Brookland in 2009. I agree with what the other posters have said. You come to Brookland to get a bigger house and a yard for a reasonable price, not to get city buzz.

Above commenters (especially the amazing detailed posts by jpg and acindc82) covered this well, and I just want to agree with their overall assessments. I’ve rented a 1BR condo in Brookland for 6 months now with my girlfriend and our dog (after 3 years mainly in Adams Morgan and Mount Pleasant), and I’ve really loved it. The neighborhood is definitely much safer than Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan (see this map, for example: ), though it also has many fewer walkable restaurants and retail options. One thing jpg may have overlooked is the numerous mid-sized apartment and condo buildings around 12th and Perry, including Oak Terrace (condos that many owners rent out), “The Perry”, and a few others. I live around there, and the combination of short walk to metro, low rent, pretty tree-filled neighborhood in which to go running, and nearby YES Organic Market simply cannot be beat. I know YES is generally “overpriced” but I don’t mind paying an extra $1/pound on my produce for the convenience of having it on my doorstep; I just do one big run to Giant (one stop away on red line at Rhode Island Ave) every 2-3 weeks for everything but the produce. With the red line right there, my commute is shorter than it ever was in Adams Morgan and Mount Pleasant, and it’s still fairly easy to get across town via all the H2-family of buses that go east-west and terminate at Brookland station. One amenity unmentioned above is the Metropolitan Branch Trail, which is easy to get to by bike from most of Brookland, and takes you to Union Station, from which the Capitol is an easy sidewalk ride, if you hate on-street biking. Catholic University’s campus is open to wander around, and they make for a quiet, pretty place to hang out and read a book, or to go for a run.
All in all, it is one of DC’s best kept neighborhood secrets. The chief downside is that it is definitely on the quieter side, with more limited retail and nightlife options as explained by other commenters, but even speaking as someone who “thrives on the buzz of the city,” I think the abundant transit connections to the busier nightlife neighborhoods in downtown and inner northwest make it perfectly compatible with a fairly active going-out life. Though man, you should keep a good book with you on the weekends while all this track work is going on if you are gonna use Metro.

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