Located east of the Anacostia River, the historic neighborhood of Anacostia was one of the first suburbs in D.C., initially known as Uniontown. Initially purposed as an affordable dwelling place for the working class with jobs on the other side of the river, the area was cut off from the center of the city by the Anacostia Freeway in the 1960s, and much of the middle class fled to better and more conveniently located housing options in other neighborhoods. From there, Anacostia went into decline, and it didn’t catch the attention of city developers for a long time. Now a renaissance is underway, promising a new breath of life that will raise the quality of life in Anacostia to new heights.
A Revival of Arts
One of the most interesting aspects of the gentrification efforts Anacostia has recently seen is probably the booming arts and culture scene. The Anacostia Playhouse (formerly H Street Playhouse) has been refurbished in a brand new location, and investment has seen to the opening of the Vivid Solutions and the Honfleur Art Galleries, dedicated to showcasing modern contemporary art exhibitions.
Further community development efforts resulted in the opening of the Anacostia Arts Center in 2013, boasting a black box theater, five boutique spaces and a modern pop-up gallery. As a result, Anacostia has become a center for urban and contemporary art, which perfectly suits the location and cultural background of the neighborhood. In 2012, the Lumen8 Anacostia festival commenced for the first time, further strengthening Anacostia’s position as a regional arts scene and drawing thousands of visitors over a two-month period.
It’s About to Take Off
The transformation of the culture scene, along with a number of public service and private investment projects underway have turned Anacostia from a step-child into a place of focused interest for a lot of people. Experts compare the neighborhood to Capitol Hill in the 1990s, and are certain that now it’s finally Anacostia’s time for development. Commercial corridors are experiencing on the rise, with investment available from the two brand new business incubators and the arrival of new retail and restaurant businesses, including Vintage & Charmed, Cedar Hill Bar & Grill and others. Furthermore, Marthin Luther King Jr. Avenue and adjacent streets are part of the Great Street revitalization project, offering grants up to $85,000 to small businesses to cover capital improvement costs.
Multiple new housing projects, including the recently finished Sheridan Station and Henry Ridge townhouses, prepare the neighborhood for the spotlight it is about to be put in. Real estate prices have been climbing steadily, reaching median price of around $275,000 (up from $200,000 in 2013), which is still considerably cheaper than in most of D.C. There’s no doubt that development is underway, and it’s a great time to tap into the opportunities provided by a neighborhood about to go through a phase of significant transformation.
New retail/restaurant SF planned for 13th & Morris Road - $14,000
Seats at the new Anacostia Playhouse - 150
Increase in home closing prices (2012–2013)2 - 23%
Source : Neighborhood Profiles: 2014 Edition. (2014, February 17). Washington, DC Economic Partnership, Retrieved from http://www.wdcep.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/np14_final_lowres.pdf