Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Case Study 5.1: Logan Circle

Logan Circle refers to both the large traffic circle and the surrounding neighborhood. The borders are roughly 16th St to the west, Massachusetts Avenue south, S St north, and the eastern border is debatable. It starts losing its charm beyond about 11th St, so that's where many residents draw the line. Apart from the traffic circle itself, the most desirable streets are in the westward portion of the neighborhood, as that's closer to Whole Foods and other shops, restaurants, etc. 

Development of the neighborhood started in the 1870's as part of the streetcar expansion and in keeping with Pierre L'Enfant's plan. Originally popular among the white upper middle class, in the early 20th century it became a shopping district. Many homes were subdivided into apartments and Logan Circle became caught in the middle between white and black parts of the city. Riots in the 1960's saw a collapse of the commercial area and for many years it was known as a haven for drugs, prostitution, and crime. Finally the situation improved about ten years ago, punctuated by the opening of Whole Foods on P Street, the largest branch in the DC metropolitan region and one of the most successful in the country. 14th and P streets are host to plenty of restaurants, theaters, shops, galleries, and nightlife venues. In 2008 the average home price had gone up over $550,000 and continues to rise.  

For more information about Logan Circle, I recommend these sites:

Homes along the circle
Grant Mansion, built for the president's son, undoubtedly the nicest building on the circle. A 2 bedroom apartment is asking $1.15 million
Vermont Avenue, one of the wide boulevards leading towards the circle
In my opinion, the avenue is one of the nicest streets in Logan Circle
Vermont north of the traffic circle
Rhode Island Avenue, like Vermont one of the wide boulevards which intersects the street grid diagonally
A delightful trio of homes just southwest of the circle. Front yards not too big as to be wasteful, just the right size to add greenery
The dual stairs add a nice rhythm and a ceremonial sense
12th Street
13th Street just north of the circle
Kingman Place is a nice one block street of red brick Victorians which usually sell for between $1-1.3 million
15th Street
16th Street, a busy traffic artery, the edge with Dupont Circle
P Street east of the circle
P Street west of the circle and west of the commercial part (Whole Foods, etc.)
Q Street, one of the greenest in the neighborhood and almost exclusively residential
Many streets in the city are too wide to be intimate, but Q is just right. The greenery plays a dominant role
Some of these rowhomes can sell for upwards of $1.3 million
Unusually long front lawns for Logan Circle
The lighter of this duo, built in 1874, is on sale for $1.8 million, more than any other home in Logan Circle
Corcoran is one of the most interesting streets, with a variety of architectural styles and a beautiful streetscape
Surely one of the grandest homes in the area
A canopy of greenery
I love how the homes seem to huddle behind the trees, not fully visible from any angle
Almost a southern vibe here
R Street
There's something oddly charming about the textural scarring on these bricks
These homes are full of character
Riggs Street
Furthest north, S Street. Much of it has a character unlike the rest of Logan Circle
And the last image, the late afternoon sun falling on S Street
There's much to like about Logan Circle, though not all of it is quite as nice as the images I featured, and there are still more than a few rough patches, especially in the northern and eastern portion of the neighborhood. Former north-south commercial corridors like 14th Street have yet to fully recover, but every passing year adds restaurants and shops. It's hard to believe drugs and prostitution were commonplace not too long ago. Now you're more likely to see construction cranes and baby strollers, with an increasing amount of condo buildings going up.

As is true anywhere in the nation, Logan Circle has recovered thanks to the bounty of historical buildings, which despite being dilapidated, were of good enough quality to easily renovate with the tide of gentrification. Good housing stock always gives one hope and is the only reliable gauge as to an area's potential. That foundation paved the way for the neighborhood we see today. It's largely clean, green, and there's a very evident pride of homeowners and residents. I just hope those condos don't overpower the rowhomes, or worse, replace them.   

Logan Circle is literally on the doorstep of downtown, so it's little wonder why it's a popular residential area for young professionals. Many residents walk to work. For those who want to stay in the area, there's a lot of scalability, as one can upgrade from a condo to a rowhome later in life. The area is also a good investment, with many homes worth four to five times more today than in the 90's. A caveat: some  people feel priced out of the neighborhood, with values climbing faster than incomes. Little wonder, with that Whole Foods and proximity to downtown. 

I hope you've enjoyed this case study. Next up is Capitol Hill.