Follow-Up: Why Congress Heights?

By: Mary Clare Glover

When we looked last week at the five hottest DC neighborhoods, I was surprised to see Congress Heights top the list. In 2006, 287 homes sold in this once-neglected East of the Anacostia River neighborhood at a median price of $245,000, a jump of 127 percent from $108,000 in 2003. In addition, Congress Heights prices climbed almost 30 percentage points higher than any other DC neighborhood.

With all the new construction and development in the city, why are Congress Heights prices going up so fast? It doesn’t hurt that prices there were low to begin with, but that doesn’t answer the whole question. Other neighborhoods with similarly low median prices did not see as much growth.

According to a Washington DC Economic Partnership report Congress Heights is “poised for new development” and already has several projects in the pipeline. The Shops at Park Village, a $21-million mixed-use development that will include 75 single-family homes and a new Giant grocery store, will open this summer on the former site of Camp Simms, a military base. Residential and commercial plans are also in the works at the Congress Heights Metro stop and at Saint Elizabeths Hospital.

Contributing to the Congress Heights boom are two huge projects that bookend the neighborhood—the recently completed, $27-million Town Hall Education, Arts & Recreation Campus, known as the ARC, to the south and the new Nationals baseball stadium across the Anacostia River to the north.

Combined, these factors create the perfect environment for development—and huge leaps in prices.