Unless you’re pretty familiar with DC’s northeast quadrant, the neighborhood of Langdon might feel like the far side of the moon. It’s at the edge of the city’s gentrification wave, and hasn’t yet seen a major influx of new home buyers. But with an affordable housing stock and a number of other amenities, as well as a big development going up about a mile away at the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station, it could become a much more familiar place in the coming years.
Green Hills, Strip Joints and Detached Houses
Langdon is a hilly, green neighborhood bounded by New York Avenue to the south, Montana Avenue to the southwest, Rhode Island Avenue to the northwest, South Dakota Avenue to the northeast, and Bladensburg Road to the southeast. It’s about a mile from the District’s northeast border, lies just north of the National Arboretum, and the better known neighborhood of Brookland is to the northwest across Rhode Island Avenue.
The area’s a bit of a hybrid. Towards the western edge are market-rate apartments and public housing, and in the center is a sprawling retirement home complex with wide lawns. Close to New York Avenue is a cluster of industrial businesses, as well as the Stadium Club, one of the larger strip clubs in the city.
But the heart of the neighborhood is composed of street after street of detached single-family bungalows, Cape Cods, and frame houses that appear to be in very good condition. The community has long been a solid, middle-class one, and families take good care of their homes and yards.
“It’s really quiet, peaceful,” said Bernard Williams, explaining why he moved to the area two years ago. While it’s not the kind of neighborhood that frequently holds block parties and other gatherings or stays in active touch via the internet, people tend to look out for each other.
Do You Like to Renovate?
The area hasn’t yet become popular among some of the city’s younger home buyers seeking a good deal, but residents say they’re seeing new folks gradually moving in, particularly as long-timers age out of their homes and put them up for sale. Mike Kiefer, an agent with Green DC Realty, has lived in Langdon for seven years, and said he’s watched a number of homes get purchased and renovated.
“You can definitely find a lot of big houses here, some that haven’t been touched since they were built,” he said. “You can get a really nice space.”
According to Redfin, the median sale price in the area last month was $430,000, but that number is deceiving given the range of homes on the market. Some houses might be virtual shells that require a full renovation and sell for under $200,000; others are in livable condition but need updating and sell for around $250,000; still others have already been bought and renovated by developers hoping to make a profit, and cost somewhere in the $400,000s. And finally, the area includes a smattering of brand-new homes, most of which are relatively small and cost between $350,000 and $450,000.
The Gem in the Middle of the Neighborhood
There aren’t many services in Langdon or even nearby, local schools aren’t particularly good, and the relatively older age of residents means there simply aren’t a lot of kids around.
But the area has some standout amenities. Landon Park, located in the center of the community, features paved walkways, sophisticated new climbing equipment, a swimming pool, and a small amphitheater, as well as one of the city’s only public skateboard parks. The neighborhood is also home to a branch library, community garden, and a farmers market that is set up every Wednesday and Saturday in a church parking lot at 20th Street and Rhode Island Avenue.
Food, The Neighborhood’s Downside
There aren’t many established commercial options in Langdon. Rhode Island Avenue was once a settled shopping strip and the storefronts are still there, but these days it is largely populated by nonprofit organizations, barber shops, and liquor stores. There are a couple of new restaurants, including Taste, an eatery-slash-nightspot serving African, Caribbean, and American food, and Flip-It Bakery and Deli, an airy diner-style restaurant that recently opened and has gotten mixed reviews. Other options include the Tropicana restaurant (serving Caribbean cuisine) and the chain Rita’s Water Ice.
Brookland, Bloomingdale, Mount Rainier, and Hyattsville are the closest neighborhoods, but the closest busy commercial strip might just be H Street NE, a couple miles to the south.
But Langdon residents are crossing their fingers that things could be changing soon. Rhode Island Row, an 8.5-acre mixed-used development near the Rhode Island Metro station, about a mile to the southwest, is scheduled to open later this year and will include 70,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. So far, there’s been little news about what’s coming in, but residents say they’d love to see a variety of dining options, including a sit-down restaurant.
The Real Nuisance is Traffic
Despite there not being many businesses in the area, Langdon deals with a fair amount of traffic both during the week, from commuters traversing between Rhode Island and New York avenues, and on the weekends, from revelers who hang out at the Stadium Club and other nearby nightspots.
Located between Route 1 (Rhode Island Avenue) and Route 50 (New York Avenue), the neighborhood is a good fit for someone commuting by car to Maryland or into central DC. I-295 is also close by, and the Beltway isn’t much farther. On-street parking is also ample.
For non-drivers, the community’s a little more removed, though Tony Bailey, who UrbanTurf spoke to as he was waiting for a bus, said it’s still pretty convenient. Buses running through the neighborhood head to the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station in just a few minutes, then continue downtown. A walk to the Rhode Island Metro, which is on the Red Line, takes about 20 minutes.
The Bottom Line
A good section of Northeast DC hasn’t yet hit the radar of the city’s wanna-be home owners, and Langdon is no exception. Still, the neighborhood has a lot to recommend it, particularly an affordable housing stock. In fact, all the area really needs in order to appeal to a wider audience is a couple interesting retail somewhere along Rhode Island Avenue. Who knows — maybe Rhode Island Row will fill the void.
- Zip Code: 20018
- Schools: Langdon Education Campus (elementary and middle schools), Burroughs Education Campus (middle school), Spingarn High School
- Langdon real estate data from Redfin
- Langdon rental information from Craigslist
Amanda Abrams is a Washington, DC-based journalist who has written feature stories for The Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and Washington City Paper.