One of the things we love about being in DC is how incredibly dynamic the city is. Over the course of the 17 years that James has lived here, and the 9 years that I’ve lived here, the city has changed tremendously.
Back in 2008, right at the crash of the economy, I returned from a year in Afghanistan to an incredible boom in the city. Complete with a transformation of Colombia Heights (complete with Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and much more).
At that time I, and most of Washington, wondered when the economic crisis would finally hit the city. Things slowed down, as much as DC ever slows, and now has returned again at warp speed.
Recently I have to monitor progress of the construction on 14th Street to make my way to the office, one day being blocked on one side of the street, then again a couple of blocks down on the other side. It is like a daily obstacle course in new developments.
The entire 14th corridor, which extends from downtown, through the ever increasingly popular U Street, and into Colombia Heights, is/has and continues to transform.
The big news on the street is that several developments at the heart of 14th and U are making steady progress. Trader Joe’s just signed on a lease for a new store there. It took TJ’s a bit to make it into the city, opening a place in Foggy Bottom only several years ago, but I hear it is their most profitable store in the US. The line on any given day goes all the way back around the store to the front door, so I know I’m not the only one looking forward to a TJ’s in the hood.
There are numerous condos going in, with retail and restaurants popping up up and down 14th street, many close to opening.
One of the great transformations was a derelict laundry that hadn’t been functional in years, reinvented as a gorgeous French restaurant, Le Diplomate.
Another great addition to the neighborhood is the replacement of the former “secret Safeway” into Glen’s Garden Market, a high end grocery store for the Whole Foods alternative.
As you can imagine, there are all sorts of different opinions about the new developments. When the announcement came out a few years ago about the Lois building, all anyone could talk about was why McDonald’s was staying! I’d have to say that most of the developments, I’m in favor of. Some of the area in question was burned out during the riots of the 60s and were dismal buildings that no one will miss. I’m also happy to see some historic buildings reinvented to their former glory (see below). Overall I like the developments in this area better than what is currently coming up in the Chinatown area, where the old convention center used to be, too tall for my liking and the typical feel of DC.
Right now it feels like we are only the beginning of a new era. Part of me wants to go on a photo shoot just to document what the city looks like now. I only wish I had done that a decade ago!
We’ll post separately on our thoughts on overall real estate in the area, as you can imagine, our entrepreneurial minds are churning…
Miel & James
p.s. here are some sights from around the neighborhood.