By MICHAEL FOWLER
Shaw is the next great frontier for pioneering members of the LGBT community looking for a great deal and lower cost per square foot than its neighbor to the west — Dupont Circle, the current epicenter of LGBT homeowners.
As housing prices climb in Dupont, Shaw’s central location, access to several Metro lines including Mt. Vernon, U Street and Shaw/Howard University, combined with its beautiful Victorian row homes and affordable condo market has made Shaw an obvious option to many of today’s LGBT homebuyers.
Shaw is difficult to define as the borders are disputed and sections are taken by neighborhoods wanting to delineate themselves from the larger area defined as historical Shaw. The lines are blurred as to what areas are Convention Center, Logan Circle and Truxton Circle and can at times be referred to as Shaw. It can be a source of controversy as to what exactly Shaw is.
If you look on a map, Shaw is east of Dupont and South of Adams Morgan. Technically speaking, the N.W. borders of Shaw include M Street to the south, New Jersey Avenue to the east, Florida Avenue to the north, and 11th Street to the west, though most real estate professionals differ on whether Shaw ends at 11th or 13th. It’s home to Howard University and Howard University Hospital and the vibrant U Street corridor, which houses such D.C. institutions as Ben’s Chili Bowl and the Lincoln Theater.
Borderstan, the online news site that covers Dupont, Logan and U Street polled its readers last year and asked, “Where is the D.C. Gay neighborhood?” Only 14 percent picked Shaw/U Street in that poll however, that tied Dupont, which also received 14 percent of the vote. Logan Circle had more votes than those two neighborhoods combined at 34 percent. The 14 percent was a climb from 8 percent the year prior in 2010.
As more gays and lesbians look to expand their families, that expansion sometimes means a larger house. Some are not interested in moving to the suburbs and look to areas like Shaw, Bloomingdale and LeDroit Park where you can still get a row home for under $1 million. With an average cost per square foot in Shaw at around $490 in February, as compared to Dupont’s $524 as reported by Trulia, LGBT families and the LGBT community in general, have been making the migration east.
LGBT businesses have followed or at times, pioneered the migration to Shaw. Urban Turf, a popular real estate website, recently named 9th Street, which is the “main street” of Shaw, the next “it” neighborhood along with the ranks of 14th Street, NoMa, and H Street NE. Ninth Street has already attracted many LGBT businesses with varied levels of success. The Long View Gallery at 1234 9th St., and its owner Drew Porterfield have been Shaw resident’s since 2006. When asked, Porterfield said, “Some people thought we were crazy to open Long View Gallery on 9th Street but our belief in the neighborhood inspired us to stay … Cornerstone developments like the new Convention Center Marriott as well as the O Street Market are moving along, and there is renewed excitement in Shaw.“
Go to U Street on any night of the week and you will likely encounter a cross-section of D.C.’s residents. Nellie’s Sports Bar at 900 U St. N.W., and Town Danceboutique at 2009 8th St. N.W. both opened in 2007 and have become mainstays in D.C.’s gay nightlife. Conversely, BeBar/EFN/Motley Bar, at 1318 9th St., which opened in 2006, saw an abrupt closing in August 2010, citing, among other reasons, the location, as a reason for its poor attendance and lack of sales. However, as the other U Street establishments of continue to see growth and success, the Shaw neighborhood will continue to offer an alternative to Dupont’s active R Street.
D.C.’s economy is growing as people participate in homeownership in the District. There are various first time homeowner credits offered through the District and most lenders have programs geared toward first time homebuyers as well. Additionally, if you are interested in purchasing a “fixer-upper” there are loan programs for that as well called 203k loans. All of these options should be discuss with your lender and real estate professional.
If you would like more information about Shaw, there are several blogs and online resources devoted to what’s happening in the neighborhood. Renew Shaw is at renewshaw.com as well as Shaw Deserves Better at shawdeservesbetter.blogspot.com. Both are great resources for information about the Shaw neighborhood, real estate trends, new restaurants and development.
Michael Fowler is a realtor with Group Hounsell at TTR Sotheby’s International Realty. He can be reached at 202-812-0272 or Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org.