Although rowhouses in the historic district command top dollar, buyers can find bargains around RFK Stadium, Congressional Cemetery, and the burgeoning H Street corridor in Northeast.
On the market: Axis Condos, starting at $314,000 (243 15th St., SE; 202-719-9111; theaxiscondos.com); Butterfield House, starting at $319,000 (1020 Pennsylvania Ave. SE; 202-544-0021; butterfieldhouse.com); Jenkins Row, starting at $332,900 (1391 Pennsylvania Ave., SE; 202-546-2922; capitolhillcondo.com).
Columbia Heights/Mount Pleasant
The Columbia Heights Metro station opened in 1999, and since then the surrounding area has exploded with development.
Mount Pleasant’s designation as a historic district has helped it retain charm. Mom-and-pop shops like Heller’s Bakery and Pfeiffer’s Hardware mingle with hipster hangouts like Radius Pizza and Tonic. The housing is mostly single-family homes built in the early 20th century and post–World War I condo and apartment buildings.
To see the renaissance of the last decade, go east of 16th Street to Columbia Heights. Last March, a block-long mall anchored by Target and Best Buy opened. There are dozens of new restaurants and shops, a Giant supermarket, and the repurposed Tivoli Theater.
Although condo hunters will find more options in Columbia Heights, Mount Pleasant has a slew of rowhouses that have been renovated and converted into boutique condos.
On the market: Cityscape on Belmont, starting at $349,900 (1330 Belmont St., NW; 202-232-4441; cityscapeonbelmont.com); Kenyon Square, starting at $363,000 (1390 Kenyon St., NW; 202-332-6477; kenyonsquare.com); Solea, starting at $219,000 (1414 Belmont St., NW; 202-232-2009; solea-dc.com).
Hyattsville is part of the Prince George’s County Gateway Arts District, a government-planned revitalization effort that runs along Route 1 through Mount Rainier, Brentwood, North Brentwood, and Hyattsville.
The area is becoming a magnet for artists. Arts District Hyattsville is a mixed-use community with rowhouses, lofts, and “live/work homes,” in which artists and small businesses set up shop in the downstairs of their rowhouses. A former auto showroom has been transformed into a community center with a fitness center and art gallery. Lots of new shops, restaurants, offices, and apartment and condo buildings are clustered around the Green Line’s Prince George’s Plaza Metro stop.
On the market: Arts District Hyattsville, starting at $369,000 (4424 Longfellow St., Hyattsville; 301-209-0116; eya.com); One Independence Plaza, starting at $214,900 (6506 America Blvd., Hyattsville; 301-779-2290; oneindependencecondos.com).
Inspired by the rebirth of downtown Bethesda, Rockville Town Square officially opened in July 2007. The pedestrian-friendly mixed-use development is within walking distance of the Rockville Metro stop and was designed to provide residents with a gathering place in the sprawling Montgomery County suburb. The development is anchored by a new public library. Street-level retail, red-brick sidewalks, benches, and fountains create an urban feel.
An after-work crowd gathers at Gordon Biersch on weekdays. A handful of independent restaurants—including Bobby’s Crabcakes and Peruvian eatery La Canela—have set up shop alongside chains such as Austin Grill, Lebanese Taverna, and Five Guys.
On the market: The Palladian at Rockville Town Square, starting in the upper $300,000s (38 Maryland Ave., Rockville; 301-610-6035; rockvilletownsquare.com); the Fitz at Rockville Town Center, starting at $289,000 (501 Hungerford Dr., Rockville; 301-315-8860; thefitzatrockville.com).
The Village at Shirlington is another town center that offers an urban lifestyle in the suburbs. Recent renovations have more than doubled its original one-block size to include a public library, Harris Teeter grocery store, and the acclaimed Signature Theatre.
Dozens of restaurants and shops—from perennially packed American bistro Carlyle to artsy gathering spot Busboys and Poets—are tucked beneath bright awnings. On warm weekend afternoons, the area fills with window shoppers and dog walkers. There’s no nearby Metro, but an indoor bus station opened last year and the location right off I-395 makes for an easy commute into DC.
On the market: West Village of Shirlington, starting at $310,000 (4161 S. Four Mile Run, Arlington; 866-208-3976; condosatshirlington.com); the Grove at Arlington, starting at $274,000 (2311 25th St. S., Arlington; 703-892-0555; groveatarlington.com).
Takoma Park/Silver Spring
These adjacent Montgomery County neighborhoods draw a lot of twenty- and thirtysomethings looking for a small-community feel with city convenience.
In downtown Silver Spring, the arrival of Discovery Communications and the AFI Silver Theatre has sparked lots of development, including chains such as Borders, Ann Taylor Loft, and Romano’s Macaroni Grill. Takoma Park has more of a funky, independent air, with a quaint main street and small restaurants and shops.