The intersection of New Jersey Avenue and I Street, Southeast, marks the unofficial barrier between Capitol Hill and Navy Yard. There, blocks of new amenity-packed apartment buildings house hundreds of young professionals, many of whom work for the federal government. So far, so normal. But there’s a twist: The area has become known as a haven for Trump-supporting Washingtonians who might not be so welcome in the city’s leftier quarters. So what’s it like to live there?
To find out, we spent some time hanging out at ORE82, a 13-story property that boasts sweeping rooftop views, fire pits, and year-round BBQ grills for residents. The building is home to a freshman congressman known for his Trump advocacy, an upper-level communication staffer from the National Republican Congressional Committee, and conservative-media journalists (as well as—full disclosure—this author). DC doesn’t get much more MAGA.
In many ways, the building is much like many other hot spots catering to millennials with disposable income. There might be yoga on the roof or a winetasting in the game room, and friends often gather for a game of bocce. But then at the pool you might spot a resident lounging on a Ted Cruz campaign towel, and suddenly you realize you’re definitely not in Shaw.
Some right-leaning federal employees we talked to say their decision to live there was based more on ORE82’s proximity to work than on a desire for a partisan safe space. But the number of Trump/Pence T-shirts spotted around the halls suggest that something more than convenience is at play. An employee of a conservative PR firm who’s looking to move into the District is seriously considering ORE82 (and some neighboring buildings) in order to be closer to the conservative action. “It’s great to be able to party where you’re both among friends and comfortable sharing your political beliefs,” she says.
But for liberals, things can get uncomfortable. One Democratic House staffer says the relentless redness can get depressing: “Friends often ask why I chose to live in the ‘conservative’ area of town versus, say, Columbia Heights.” It’s a good question. She plans to move soon.
This article appears in the August 2018 issue of Washingtonian.