Home Business In D.C.’s Brightwood Park, a residential feel amid commercial growth

In D.C.’s Brightwood Park, a residential feel amid commercial growth

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“We started looking at Petworth and had to keep crawling up north, and that’s when it became Brightwood Park,” Rodriguez Bocquet said. “We’ve been able to retain that city feel . . . . And we ended up in a three-bedroom rowhome, which is bonkers since we were looking for a two-bedroom apartment.”

After almost four years in Brightwood Park, Rodriguez Bocquet has had time to get used to the area’s slower pace. Her favorite things about the neighborhood are aspects she didn’t expect to cherish when she moved farther from the hustle and bustle of downtown Washington.

“I love how verdant this area is,” Rodriguez Bocquet said. “There are a lot of neighborhood gardens and parks. I don’t even have a particularly green thumb, but I love that we can grow tomatoes and lettuce in our backyard.

“It took a few months to get adjusted, but I’ve realized that you can make a home anywhere. You stumble across things you never knew you wanted, like a garden.”

In Brightwood Park, Rodriguez Bocquet was able to find the square footage she was looking for, along with a backyard and front porch, plus green space in Lorenzo Allen Park, which just reopened with new walkways and seating, and nearby Rock Creek Park. The Northwest Washington neighborhood sits next to larger ones such as Petworth and Fort Totten and offers many of the same amenities as its better-known counterparts. The streets are lined with trees and rowhouses, making for a quiet neighborhood feel, but the Kennedy Street and Georgia Avenue business corridors offer plenty for residents who want to take advantage of city living.

“It’s really nice how residential it is, but at the same time, compared to other small neighborhoods, it’s rare to have the two commercial corridors that Brightwood Park has,” said Erik Lindsjo, a nine-year resident. “That’s something unique that we really appreciate about the neighborhood — that there’s bars, restaurants and stores just a couple blocks away.”

While home buyers flock to Brightwood Park for the housing stock and more-affordable prices, business owners see potential in the neighborhood’s commercial development. Charvis Campbell opened his record shop, HR Records, in 2018. It’s one of only 37 Black-owned record shops in the country, making it a destination in the city. Campbell, a Petworth resident, said he needed to establish his shop close to home but also wanted to be somewhere on the up.

“We’re a destination spot, but ideally we want people who are walking up and down the street, hitting the shops and restaurants, to come in,” Campbell said. “As I look at Kennedy Street, there’s a lot of potential for that, especially now as mixed-use apartment buildings are popping up. Growth is happening here, and I want to be a part of that.”

Uptown Main Street was formed around the same time that Campbell opened his record shop. Its mission is to revitalize Kennedy Street and nearby 14th Street NW and support their businesses, working with property owners to fill vacancies and beautify the corridors with murals and streetscape improvements. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the group has connected businesses with grants and other resources to make sure they can survive. Uptown Main Street also organizes the area’s most-frequented community events, such as the Kennedy Street Festival and Taste of Uptown, which attract residents from around the city.

Growth along Kennedy Street has been steady. Resident favorites include Andrene’s, a neighborhood spot for soul food and Caribbean dishes. Truxton Circle staple Anxo opened a cidery in the neighborhood in 2017; it includes a 30-person tasting room and 10-seat outdoor patio. Uptown Main Street’s efforts are combined with residential developments such as Eight 39, a Kennedy Street condo building offering 31 residences, 50 percent of which have sold during construction. Several other residential developments are set for completion soon.

Living there: Brightwood Park is roughly bounded by Missouri Avenue to the north, North Capitol Street on the east, Emerson Street to the south and Georgia Avenue on the west, according to ANC Commissioner Erik Lindsjo. Marc Ross and Jenn Smira at Compass real estate say 109 homes have sold in Brightwood Park in the last six months. There are 28 properties for sale; they include one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo for $169,500 and a four-bedroom, four-bathroom semidetached townhouse for just under $1.1 million. There are 36 properties under contract, ranging from a $189,900 co-op unit to a $980,000 townhouse.

Schools: Truesdell Education Campus, which has pre-kindergarten through fifth grade; MacFarland Middle School; and Roosevelt and Coolidge high schools.

Transportation: Brightwood Park is served by various bus lines and is bordered by the Georgia Avenue, Missouri Avenue and North Capitol Street thoroughfares, providing easy access to other areas of the city. The closest Metro stations are Georgia Avenue/Petworth on the Green and Yellow lines and Fort Totten on the Green, Red and Yellow lines. The stations are a mile or less from Brightwood Park.

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