As the next great construction site in the District, NoMa has attracted justifiable media attention as well as some of the heaviest-hitting development teams in the area, Akridge, Douglas Development, Trammell Crow, MRP and the Wilkes Company, vying for the ability to write upon the blank slate of its startlingly empty surface. Admittedly not likely to be on any tourist agenda or history tour, the newly invented moniker still offers commercial developers an attractiveness that seems hard to have missed in the past - a downtown development site with major bisecting traffic arteries, a pair of Metro stations and a train terminus within walking distance of Congress.
Attracting decidedly less media attention, Eckington, its immediate neighbor to the north, has nonetheless been discovered by local developers not quite ready for an Akridge-sized purchase of air rights over railroad yards, but who view the more than 10 million square feet of commercial space being built on its southern edge as an invitation to develop the residential market.
Bounded by North Capitol to the west, New York Avenue to the south, Rhode Island Avenue to the north and, of course, the proverbial railroad tracks, Eckington appears to sit on the right side of those tracks judging from development teams that have been quietly converting forlorn apartments into condominiums and vacant lots into loft-like housing for the inevitable office workers that will soon pour into NoMa. Zoned largely for residential and bounded north and south by Metrorail stations, the neighborhood has been populated by rows of single family homes, many of which still belatedly sport the once ubiquitous metal awnings, and small, forgotten apartment buildings, providing affordable alternatives to out-of-the-ground construction.
The area's conversion process began auspiciously when a joint venture between CSX and Fairfield Residential announced plans to build 650 condominium units, but braked in early 2007 as the condo market slowed as construction costs were rising. But by then other developers had used the momentum to build and sell the Jordan (314 V St.), Eckington Heights (330 Rhode Island Ave.), and Basilica Lofts (1900 4th St.), adapting former apartment buildings and abandoned storefronts into modern homes even before the first ceremonial groundbreaking in NoMa.
With NoMa construction now underway, the pace of development in Eckington has now quickened, with new, modern projects now dotting the Eckington map, including Century Court at 14 S Street (14 units), The Indigo at 1901 Lincoln Road (30 units), Todd Place Condos at 302-310 Todd Place (12 units), Eckington Station at 1927 3rd St. (7 units), Capitol Overlook at 221 R Street (12 units), and the Winthrop at 1956 3rd Street (5 units); other buildings beginning construction include 219 T Street, 1921 2nd St., as well as a pair of buildings on 4th Street at V and U and several vacant lots, now under contract by developers. While the scale of development does not match that to the south due to height restrictions and its residential nature, developments here seem more concentrated than any other existing neighborhood.
"Eckington is is one of the rare neighborhoods in DC next to massive commercial development that has not yet matured, so the potential upside for buyers is tremendous", says Dan Lindsay, whose development team, Lindsay Development & Hillsborough Investments, recently completed a project on Capitol Hill and is now completing the full renovation of Todd Place. Most of the new projects have sold from $340 to $400 per square foot, a price that is difficult to match on the other side of North Capitol Street or anywhere closer to nearby Capitol Hill.