Compounding home buyer interest in D.C.’s Petworth neighborhood

13 min read
The Washington Post

Trent Heminger has noticed a big change in the real estate market in Petworth. The neighborhood, in Northwest Washington, has become much more interesting to people shopping for a home, he said.

“I’ve been selling real estate for 18 years and new construction for 16 years,” said Heminger, executive vice president with Trent & Co. “At the beginning, I didn’t know where Petworth was. Now prospective buyers are searching for the community and calling us with inquiries.”

ERB Properties bought a building in Petworth — on Upshur Street, between Eighth and Ninth streets NW — razed it and constructed a new one. The result is 811 Upshur, a 10-unit condominium. TeassWarren Architects designed the building. Trent & Co., a real estate team at Compass, is handling sales.

The red brick building has five stories above ground, plus a lower level. There are two units per floor from the lower level to the fourth floor. On each floor, one unit faces Upshur Street at the front of the building and one unit faces the rear. The fourth and fifth floors are set back from the street-level facade, creating outdoor space for the two-story penthouses on floors four and five.

Five units are under contract, four are on the market and one will be sold through a D.C. government affordable-housing lottery.

Islands for entertaining: The four units for sale — 4, 6, 8, 10 — have L-shaped open-concept living spaces. From the hallway, the entry to the model unit opens into the kitchen, where appliances, arranged along one wall, face an island with a bar stool overhang. “We tried hard, even at the cost of some living space, to place islands in all our kitchens,” Heminger said. “People like to have friends over, and islands are great places to congregate.”

Beyond the kitchen, a stacked washer and dryer are in a utility closet with a sliding door. The living area is at the opposite end of the unit, along with the two bedrooms, which are around a corner.

The bedrooms are separated by a hallway bathroom and a closet in one of the bedrooms. “We deliberately designed the layout to provide barriers between the bedrooms for maximum privacy,” Heminger said.

The model unit has large windows that let in abundant light. The windows swing out when opened. Light-colored pre-finished oak floors — installed by Brazilian Floors, a company in Beltsville, Md. — run throughout the unit.

The building’s two brightly lit staircases were made with the same honey-colored oak found in the units. “The stairwell flooring gives it a homey feel rather than an industrial look,” Heminger said.

The building’s security system “is like a virtual doorman,” said Ryan Isaccson, an agent with Trent & Co. Each unit has a small screen embedded in the wall by the entry door, and when someone rings to enter the building downstairs, that person appears on the screen.

Erin Loken and her fiance, Ermyas Haile, plan to move into 811 at the end of March. “I can’t wait to grab some pizza next door [Timber Pizza at 809 Upshur] and explore the neighborhood,” Haile said.

Loken and Haile live in nearby Brightwood Park now. “We wanted to be a little closer to downtown, get more space and still be close to the restaurants in the area that we love,” Loken said.

The two-story Penthouse unit 10 has a layout on the main level essentially the same as the layouts of the one-story units. Stairs rise from the living area to the fifth floor, which has a third bedroom with a private full bathroom, a powder room and two roof decks. A wet bar and a stacked washer and dryer, hidden in a closet, are also on this level.

What’s nearby: There is a Safeway supermarket on Georgia Avenue and a Trader Joe’s on 14th Street. The Petworth Community Market, a farmers market on Ninth Street, operates on Saturdays from May to November. Qualia Coffee is on Georgia Avenue. A flower shop, She Loves Me, is at 808 Upshur, and a woman’s clothing shop, Fia’s Fabulous Finds, is at 806.

Schools: Dorothy Height Elementary, MacFarland Middle, Theodore Roosevelt High.

Transit: The Georgia Avenue-Petworth station, on the Green and Yellow lines, is the closest Metro stop. Georgia and New Hampshire avenues and 16th Street are major traffic corridors, and they all have regular bus service. A bike lane runs along Upshur.

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