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A local's guide to Anacostia, D.C.’s neighborhood of the year

A small town feel with lots of changes to come

At one point, Washington, D.C. residents and tourists alike only viewed the Southeast neighborhood, Anacostia, as a place filled with crime. Now, it’s known for its active, tight-knit residents as well as being worth investing in and with plenty of sites worth traveling to.

Duane Gautier, president of the ARCH Development Corporation, told Curbed DC in June 2016 that “People are not scared to come here anymore.”

While Gautier says this, he adds that the neighborhood—in terms of its retail and housing—has largely been a time capsule since the 1980s.

“Starting around 2000 to 2003, you saw little change. You saw new people coming in, renovating the vacant housing, and it really picked up in 2007,” said Gautier. In 2007, that was when he opened his first art gallery in the neighborhood, a decision that brought both community opposition and local skepticism.

Anacostia Arts Center
Anacostia Arts Center
Photo by Michelle Goldchain

Since 2008, there have been a number of vacant storefronts languishing in the neighborhood, some owned by the D.C. government. Gautier attributes this to the government being more interested in communities West of the Anacostia River.

When it comes to how residents and tourists view the neighborhood, Charles Wilson, Anacostia resident and member of the of the Historic Preservation Review Board, told Curbed DC in June 2016, “The people who don’t live [in Anacostia] don’t know Anacostia. They know what they read in the newspapers about the crimes, the statistics, and just the perception of the neighborhood.”

Wilson added, “The people who live there know it best for the small town feel of the neighborhood, and that’s one of those challenges that we continue to face.”

For the future of Anacostia, expect a lot of change to come. One major redevelopment is the 11th Street Bridge, which will one day become the city’s first ever elevated bridge park.

“I think that will also increase the flow of people from Navy Yard and Capitol Hill,” said Gautier.

Gautier further expects integration of new retail as well as the planned Busboys & Poets, which is currently under construction in the neighborhood, as a good prospect for the area. The project is expected to complete in the summer of 2017.

“It’s all positive,” he said. “There’s nothing negative happening right now in Anacostia.”

Other projects currently under construction or still being planned include a Walgreens in the iconic “Anacostia” building at 1117 Good Hope Road SE and a 50,500-square-foot commercial development at MLK Gateway.

Frederick Douglass House
Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Library of Congress

Wilson said, “Anacostia has a bright future, a bright, bright, bright future. I think if the proper vision is put in place, it will be one of those special neighborhoods in the city versus just another neighborhood.”

When it comes to the real estate in the area, all numbers are up. According to national real estate brokerage Redfin, the median listing price in Historic Anacostia this past December was $354,000, while the median sale price was $215,000. Compared to December of last year, the asking price of homes for sale has increased by 12.5 percent. Meanwhile, the number of homes for sale has increased by 46.7 percent.

For Washington, D.C. as a whole, Redfin reports that the median listing price in December 2016 was $535,000, while the median sale price was $530,000.

Are you an Anacostia resident? Let Curbed and Curbed readers know what it’s like to live in the neighborhood by leaving a comment on this or this article.

Anacostia: Where to Go and What to See [Curbed DC]

Interview: Businessman Duane Gautier on the Arts as a Catalyst for Anacostia [Curbed DC]

Interview: Anacostia Resident Charles Wilson on the SE D.C. Neighborhood’s Charm and Future [Curbed DC]