Glass half full or half empty?

For those seeking to ascertain the investment risk/reward potential of our greaterhalf_glass neighborhood, it appears that there is not a consensus among all the potential and current stakeholders. How else can one explain the unbridled enthusiasm of many residents during a period where the only actual and proposed service businesses has been a cafe and a video rental store (notwithstanding the mirage, EC-12)?

Therefore, in regards to the old question, “is the glass half full or half empty?”, let’s look at the answers from several perspectives:

    “Half full” people will point to the impending development in the NoMa corridor, rising home prices, the community’s embracing of the Big Bear and Sunday farmers’ market, untapped potential of North Capitol St

    “Half empty” individuals will talk about the blighted wall, that is, North Capitol St (a future post will address this disaster in city planning), continued crime in the more-developed LeDroit Park, constant break-ins of Windows Cafe

    “Depends on whether you are pouring or drinking” folks will most likely say there are two answers to the question—that investors see our neighborhood as less-than-desirable for profit ventures while residents hold an overly-excited optimism about its potential

    “Twice as large as it needs to be” answerers will most likely be longtime residents who view the success of declining crime over the years as sufficient in itself and have no use for cafes or sit-down restaurants; viewing rising home prices as simply a cause of higher property taxes


I am going to lean in the direction of the realists. In my previous ‘hood, East Nashville, the community experienced a wave of half-full sentiment among both investors and residents. During this period, a property such as the row of buildings along North Capitol St NE from Q to R would have been snatched up quickly by one of the developers who had previous experience in the area. They would not concern themselves with the issue of what businesses would succeed in the spaces; but instead, see the greater reward/less risk of converting the units into a contiguous stretch of rehabbed leasable properties for the small investors.

Residents of our community can visualize such development. Evidently, the investors do not see the same. Progress will move forward only when there is agreement of how the glass stands.


In other news, the LeDroit community—definitely full of “half-full” individuals—raised $4,500 to purchase a camera for the LeDroit Park Market’s exterior as well as $800 towards the glass repair costs.

A 17-year-old has been charged with the latest robbery of the market.

Washington Post article (”Casting a Wide Web for Robbers“) talks about the community’s successful efforts to capture the attention of the Mayor and Police Chief.


8 thoughts on “Glass half full or half empty?

  1. I’ve been thinking about what the difference is between DC and other cities in which neighborhoods like ours do have the building stock rehabbed, restored, and leased. One of the differences between a place like DC and a place like Nashville or Baltimore is the cost of the real estate. Some of these crappy properties have rents or sales prices that are astonishingly high. It stifles small business entrepreneurship; it makes it difficult to make a start-up work with rents/real estate costs that are that high.

    As an extreme example, in one of the buildings on North Capitol between Q and R, there’s a greedy do-nothing that has been sitting on his property since he bought it in 2000 for $75,000. He is now trying to sell it for $799,000.

    Below is the public record:

    And below is the real estate listing:

    Not much can be done about it, but these types of things are egregious and frustrating because they slow/halt improvement, and the high land cost makes it more difficult to start a new neighborhood serving retail business.

  2. For some reason the tinyurl link takes you to the property sales database rather than directly to the property info. You can see it by searching at the property sales database for 1631 North Capitol Street in Eckington, but I also have pasted the info on that building below.

    One note: If he is selling the property for $799,000, and rowhomes in the area are selling for $500-$600K while being assessed in the 3-400,000 range, then the assessed value is out of line. This do-nothing needs to be taxed more heavily so he is incented to sell his property and take his profit for his successful speculating. Damn leach.


    Address: 1631 NORTH CAPITOL ST NE
    SSL: 3514 0003

    Record Details
    Neighborhood: ECKINGTON
    Sub-Neighborhood: B
    Use Code: 42 – Store-Misc Class 3
    Exception: Yes
    Tax Type: TX – Taxable
    Tax Class: 002 – Commercial
    Homestead Status: ** Not receiving the Homestead Deduction
    Gross Building Area:
    Ward: 5
    Land Area: 889 Triennial Group: 1

    Owner and Sales Information
    Mailing Address: 1633 N CAPITOL ST NE; WASHINGTON DC20002-2107
    Sale Price: $75,000
    Sale Date: 10/04/2000
    Instrument No.: 93454

    Tax Year 2008 Preliminary Assessment Roll

    Current Value
    Land: $21,260
    Improvements: $157,560
    Total Value: $178,820
    Taxable Assessment: * $178,820

    Proposed New Value (2008)
    Land: $23,380
    Improvements: $178,430
    Total Value: $201,810
    Taxable Assessment: * $201,810

  3. I haven’t crunched the numbers, but if developers convert the upper floor(s) to residential, then maybe it would offer reasonable rents for certain small businesses.

  4. North Capital Street itself is not a failure of urban planning. It was laid out long before the automobile was in mass production.

    CARS on North Capital Street are the wall. TRAFFIC bisects our neighborhood and divides our communities.

    Those dark smudges you see on many of the unpainted (never painted) brick houses? Carbon deposits. Where did they come from? Cars running around the neighborhood since before the catalytic converter was invented.

    Automobile traffic is one of the most detrimental aspects to quality of life in greater DC. North Capital Street embodies that fact just as well as the “mixing bowl” debacle in Springfield VA or the I-270/I-495 split near Rockville, MD.

  5. L’Enfant produced an incredible work of art and planning when he laid out the grid.

    I was referring to the repeated underpasses and removal of Truxton Circle when I mentioned “disaster in city planning.” Peter would roll in his grave if he saw what has happened to the street with the best view of the Capitol.

  6. C’mon. You’re talking about the heart of the US Capital City. You expect to have access to modern, safe, clean amenities and to not be victimized while living or working here? Your expectations are ripping this neighborhood apart!

  7. I’ve looked at housing all around the NoMa area. In my opinion, south Eckington and Bloomingdale have the best housing to offer. The quality of the older homes in these areas is far superior to what you get East of the tracks.

    But, amenities are sparse, at best. If the restaurant project at the firehouse would happen, then that would be a huge leap in the right direction. However, I’ve heard that EC-12 may not happen. It looks as though unless the developer obtains a new restaurant partner by September, then it won’t go forward. That would be a shame.

    It seems there should be plenty of qualified restauranteurs (think Matchbox, Tunnicliffs, Mimis/Busboys & Poets, Logan Tavern)…but then I’m not in the restuarant business, so I’m speculating. Has anyone heard from NextGen Development recently?

    P.S. Saint Ex is one of my favorite places to eat, so it is too bad Benson (?) left the project.

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