Ask The Cribline: The Fringes of Capitol Hill
PLEASE NOTE: There is an update on this post
Dear Cribline: What do you think of the Capitol Hill neighborhood? We’re looking at a house near 18th St. and Potomac Ave., SE?
I happen to live on Capitol Hill and I think the neighborhood is a great one–safe and vibrant, with a real sense of community. It’s close to major transportation, Union Station and Eastern Market, with plenty of restaurants and lots of night life.
The same isn’t necessarily true for what I call “the fringes” of Capitol Hill. Unfortunately, the neighborhood you describe, 18 blocks southeast of the Capitol and closer to Congressional Cemetery than the U.S. Congress, is decidedly on the fringes.
For those who can’t picture it, 18th St. and Potomac Ave. is across the street from the Congressional Cemetery, in the shadows of the Frederick Douglass Bridge over the Anacostia River. The cemetery keeps the neighborhood quiet, but the DC Correctional Treatment Facility is also in the vicinity. “West Wing” fans might remember that 18th St. and Potomac Ave. is where Mrs. Landingham, the First Lady’s beloved assistant, was killed by a drunk driver. But I digress.
The point is, that neighborhood is only geographically close to Capitol Hill. It lacks the shopping and the transportation options Capitol Hill buyers seek. It’s also not within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Capitol Police, which extends only to the innermost 47-square-block radius of the Capitol. Many residents consider the Capitol Police presence helpful in reducing crime in the neighborhood, and that’s a factor to consider, but not in this case. Nevertheless, the area you describe has been relatively crime-free for the past year, as evidenced by the District’s great online mapping tool that allows you to view crime statistics, building permits and other activity that might affect your search.
The neighborhood has a new Harris Teeter grocery store–a definite plus–but that must be weighed against its proximity to Congressional Cemetery, the D.C. jail, and the Anacostia River.
Unless you’re an experienced real estate investor or an adventurous buyer, I’d give the fringes of Capitol Hill a pass.
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