Monday, June 13, 2011

Your Next Place...


By Franklin Schneider

I have a real soft spot for neighborhoods that are "next." I moved into Shaw when it was "next" but now that it's “now,” I'm itching to get out. Coffee shops and yoga studios leave me cold inside, but show me a hole-in-the-wall Chinese place with a trash bag duct-taped over a broken window and a bodega with a hand-lettered sign, and I'm right at home. (The one across from my house in Shaw used to have the best one ever; after getting robbed by a ski-masked man, a magic-markered sign appeared in the front door reading: NO ONE IN SKI-MASKED ALOWED IN STORE THANK YOU!!)


Of course, aside from ambiance, one of the other advantages of places that are “next” are that you can find beautiful houses at prices that are downright sane. This is definitely one of those places. Located in Petworth, and with three bedrooms and 3.5 baths spread over three levels, an open floor plan, hardwood floors, a beautiful spacious kitchen with granite counters and stainless steel appliances, a deck and garage parking, you'll be shocked when you see the price. I thought it was a typo at first! The place has “old bones” as they say, but after the extensive remodel it feels sleek and contemporary – though still wholesomely traditional. Just a tremendously appealing place. It even has a porch and a yard, and the basement is completely finished and ready for use as a family room/man cave. Only a stone's throw from Georgia Avenue, which in my opinion is the most picaresque and grittiest strip in the city. It's like a cross between Marrakesh and the "Bad" music video.

533 Buchanan St. NW
Washington, DC
3 Bdrms, 3.5 Baths
$499,000

31 comments:

JM said...

The house may have had good bones, too bad its heart was cut out. What was gained in this generic renovation does not outweigh the character that has been lost. Old houses and neighborhoods are to be respected ... not just your beloved Chinese carry-out. Those owners were probably robbed at gun point ... did you do more than laugh at their sign? Contribute to, don't consume, history.

Marshall said...

Right on JM...Boo to soul-less renovations like this one. The good bones this house had are long gone. I mean really - $500k for grace-less spaces, hollow plastic doors, under-scaled moldings, misplaced bulkheads and generic finishes?

Erin said...

I'm not so sure you're both right. Have you been in the house? I've seen many renovations, and yes, most are first-class crap. At least from this I can see they saved the beautiful stairway, and chose interesting, good tile for the shower. Positive signs, though I haven't been in the house so its hard to critique.

Anonymous said...

A half million dollars to live near the "grittiest" street in DC is "sane?" Why don't you showcase a house that a single person on a government salary can buy?

Susan said...

Erin: Isn't your saying "saved the stairway" also saying everything else was sacrificed?

Anonymous said...

Sorry to break it to you but Shaw is not "now". H Street is "now", Southeast Waterfront near the Nats stadium is "now", but Shaw, sorry not so much. What major developments are iminent, other than the long stahled City Market at O?

-Jordan

Shaw Rez on Jun 14, 2011, 11:10:00 AM said...

Jordan -

I have a developments tab on my blog showing under construction, planned and completed projects in Shaw.

Among the major projects under construction are Progression Place, Howard Theater and Convention Center Hotel. CityMarket at O is ready to go as soon as the HUD loan closes -- should be no later than August. Part of the Kelsey Gardens assemblage at 8th and P will commence in August or September also, having been sold to Capital City Real Estate.
Apart from the major projects, you can look around and see countless long-vacant buildings renovated beatifully. See, e.g., NW and SE corners of 8th and Q, SW corner of 9th and Q, SW corner of 9th and T.

Further, there are a slew of cool, new businesses in what were recently eyesores. See, e.g., Shaw's Tavern, Dickson Wine Bar, Beau Thai, Long View Gallery, Rogue 24, Velour (new eatery by Tom Power).

And the list goes on. Is there more room for improvement? Much. But I think Shaw is certainly a hot real estate market.

Boog said...

Shaw is "now" for the people that live there.

Anonymous said...

Shaw is more "now" than Southeast Waterfront for sure. No denying that H St is probably THE "now" neighborhood of DC, but that doesn't mean that Shaw isn't also. As mentioned, there are a slew of new businesses moving in - among those not already mentioned are the Brixton and the Independent (and all the other trendy restaurants/bars popping up on eastern U St and down Florida Ave). The waterfront area may be priming itself to be the next neighborhood, but unless you are a federal worker or going to a nats game, there is no reason to find yourself down there at this moment.

DomusDC on Jun 15, 2011, 11:03:00 AM said...

This house is pretty similar to one we just leased up over on 3rd and Webster. In terms of whether Petworth is a "Now" neighborhood, there's a lot of activity planned for the direct Georgia/New Hampshire intersection and surrounding blocks, but Buchanan is far enough north of the Metro/comm'l strip that it's more of a quiet residential enclave for families than a "cool" block. That said, your dollars/SF go a long way there and you're really close to Grant and Sherman Circles.

Anonymous said...

Cut the neighborhood boosterism. There is no need to pit neighborhood against neighborhood. Real estate is pretty hot in more than one place in the city.

I agree that compared to some places featured under "Your Next Place...," this one is very generic. Seemingly thousands of gut-job town houses exactly like this one all over the place. I like an open kitchen as much as the next person, but all of these white washed one-room first floors feel a bit fish bowl-ish to me.

Anonymous said...

JM Your heart has also been cut out apparently - you don't understand these houses at all if you think the options on renovation are unlimited as they might be with larger scale projects. Opening up the plan and spreading light across the levels is key and one of the few options. You'd rather have them keep the choppy floor-plan I guess. And I love Marshall's pretend to know add-on comment. Get off of HDTV both of you and try to understand the economic and structural scale of the project.

Anonymous said...

These were and are basic middle class row-houses. To apply 20th century bourgeois sentiments of preservation, finishes, bulkheads etc is ridiculous. Great job and nice space! Beats the Shaw/U st. McLoft formula by a mile (and you own the land) I'm so over their high-handed posts and I agree that the JM and Marshall types are ruining DC with their wannabe ways.

Marshall said...

Nice Anonymous - Clearly you have zero understanding of architectural, structural or economic integrity. Sensitivity to these old buildings is so important and so lacking in many of these current renovations. Yes there are many ways to do things, but to me this one is just another example of a quick turn-over to make a fast buck. And that's just gross and soul-less!

Anonymous said...

Do you mean soulless, graceless?You throw around terms and ideas; you pass judgement in the most awful way. Then you back it up with nothing. Yours is the trendy stock reaction to the commmon sense rehabilitation of these long-neglected houses (proper use of a hyphen). It's a great looking house and a nicely done renovation. Your postings are insensitive, grandiose and CLUE-LESS!

Anonymous said...

Sure, this is a "nice" renovation. Many people are looking for this fresh and clean look. However, I personally find it a little soulless. All the historic feel has been ripped out. From inside, one could just as easily be in a new townhouse in Centrevile. I chose to live in an historic home for the feel of it - the individual rooms, the wood door casings, etc. Call me sentimental, but I always feel a little sad when I walk into one of these renovated homes with the bowling alley first floor living space.

Anonymous said...

I'm in the process of renovating my house down the street from here.
I like the original basic layout, but the kitchens are far to small. We took down the wall between the dining room and the cook-in hallway to open it up, but we left the walls for the living room and the bump out. It keeps the original feel while opening the dining area. We still have lot of light, an open feel and individual rooms.

Anonymous said...

A deep couch, a few vintage pieces, floor lighting and lamps, a high oriental screen or two to define the spaces better (and the absence of staging furniture) and you'll have back that dingy early 20th century feeling that you all miss. The thing you want back was the chief complaint of the people living back then - read Edith Wharton's "The Decoration of Houses".

Anonymous said...

Wharton advocated rooms based on simple, classical design principles such as symmetry and proportion and a sense of architectural balance.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I love a good cut/paste comment!!! Read the thing and learn about the Murphy's too, who were of that period. They disliked chopped up houses with wasted rooms, instead they favored light over heavily decorated windows and walls and so on. In her own homes, she enjoyed the salon style of open spaces and generous scale.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I love to throw out a good cut/paste comment just to watch you take the bait.

Anonymous said...

If Wharton had written that book using this type of renovation as a model, instead of having (if I remember correctly) a chapter on entryways, hallways, dining rooms, living rooms ... she would have a chapter title "room."

lippmantl on Jun 16, 2011, 4:17:00 PM said...

I can relate to both sides of the arguement. My husband and I bought and renovated a house on Buchanan this past year. The house's previous life was a section 8 rooming house and had already had the "soul" as you call it ripped out. Everything was in really bad condition and it made a lot of sense to modernize the home. I am an architect, so I can appreciate both the modern atheistic and the orginal 1920's wood work.
If the orginal wood work in our home was in really good shape, we would have saved it. However, a lot of the houses around Petworth are not in the best condition and haven't been kept up as they should.

Anonymous said...

A lot of you are forgetting when you renovate a house, you are often forced to bring a lot of things up to CODE. Our Wardman-style house had hallways that were less than 28 inches. DCRA forces you to bring them up to code when renovating which current code says your walls have to be at least 36 inches apart - minimum.
Also do really want leaking galvinized sewage pipes inside your crumbling plaster walls because you are afraid the charm might be lost?? really??? F***ing please people...
You can't update the MEP without opening up walls and re-framing!

Anonymous said...

Oh, no! Are you serious? When a pipe in the wall leaks, say the one over in the corner here, that the plumber is going to have to replace all the walls on the whole floor? Wow, that sucks.

JM said...

Reading my original post, saying that the "heart was cut out" of this house is pretty melodramatic. Apologies for the hyperbole and any contribution to the the vitriolic, personal retort in this thread. The "gentler" and middle-way comments from lippmanti, the sentimental guy and the neighbor to this house are appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Is it really a matter of "to renovate" or "not to renovate?" Seems to me that homeowners could get updated plumbing and such and still maintain the original character. Even if the house is gutted and all the materials are new, why not maintain some of the original space? Where's there a place to have that private kitchen conversation during a party or to feel cozy in the living room away from the front door in the winter?

Anonymous said...

Just took a look at the sales history of this house. Sold for $222K end of last year. Did the developer really add $277K in value to this place?

Anonymous said...

I hate that people claim $500k in a dangerous neighborhood is sane. It's not. It's wrong.

Anonymous said...

it's not a warzone you know...
Also to the comment above you would have to at least rip out a sizable section of the "charming" plaster wall and re-frame/drywall around it if the nasty-ass old galvanized plumbing did burst. Unless you like leaving sewage in the rest of the wall so that it's still "charming". It's often also in a very inconvenient place...like say in the middle of your 1st floor.

Anonymous said...

...also, I would like to add you don't have get rid of all the walls in the house if you had to replace the plumbing per say, but as was the case in our house the old nasty ass galvinized plumbing was run through several walls making it very difficult to keep them intact as others have referred that you can. Often the joists are cracked especially with the old 2nd floor bathroom upstairs (all wardmans I have seen have this). When they made them they poured concrete floors for the bathroom floor right between the joists to hold the old claw foot tubs due to their weight. The weight of the concrete and the HUGE holes that plumbers cut through the joists back then often compromises the beam forcing you to replace these. We had to completely replace a whole section of floor joists in our house due to this. If I haven't already made it obvious I also hate plaster. That s**t is a pain in the ass. Most of the time too you have NO insulation between the plaster and your brick wall = NO R-value. Our walls when opened up the lattice had no insulation inbetween. This is the difference in MODERNIZING a house too. I think this is where people tend to be confused about losing the "charm" vs. making sure the house works, is sound, dry, and functioning.
I mean you can use plaster again yes, but why when their are better products out there to deal with moisture etc??

People around here definitely seem to be against post modern style!

 

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