26 May 2011

Buy your house in Trinidad before it's too late!

Real estate prices are on the rise in desirable neighborhoods. Happy days are here again, right? If the house at the right is an indicator of what's to come, we might be looking at a rapid rise in prices here in Trinidad.

I went to an open house for this listing a couple months ago. While it's a nice house, there are more than a few things I thought kept it from being a "great" house. The ceiling height in the finished basement was quite low (I'm 5'9", and I had to duck to get around in many places), two of the three bedrooms are carpeted, the floor plan is a little unorthodox, and what should be a spacious backyard is instead a giant concrete parking pad. In an area that has plenty of on-street parking, it's a shame that this space isn't a nice backyard/garden.

Based on recent neighborhood comps, I didn't think the house was worth the listed price of $379,900, but I was shocked to see yesterday that it sold for higher than list price: $381,000. Most neighborhood home sales in the last couple years have been under $300,000. If houses in Trinidad are approaching $400,000 again, it won't be long until the stories of neighborhood "gentrification" will start being written in the papers and other blogs. Others have mentioned that the southern part of the neighborhood will start to see real estate prices rise as H Street continues to redevelop and the streetcar comes online. Is this the beginning of that wave, or just an anomaly?

24 May 2011

"You can't take pictures of federal buildings"

I took these pictures yesterday evening on the way home. I had just read Philip Kennicott's architectural review of the United States Institute of Peace building on Constitution Avenue, where he mentioned that architect Moshe Safdie designed the ATF headquarters at Florida and New York Avenues as well. (Note to Mr. Kennicott and the Washington Post - the building is in Northeast, not Northwest.)

I figured that Mr. Safdie probably didn't intend the space in front of his building to be used as a parking lot for cars from Maryland, with patchy grass and dirt welcoming one to this edifice, and wanted to document the sad state of affairs.

And then something interesting happened right after I finished taking the photograph below. I was standing on the sidewalk in front of the McDonald's on 1st Street NE when the driver of a car exiting the parking lot waved me over. He was a security guard, and said in a stern voice, "You know that taking pictures of federal buildings is illegal."

I've never thought I needed to carry "The Photographer's Right" (PDF) with me before, but perhaps I should. I've read stories in DCist and the Washington Post regarding photography around federal buildings, but I didn't know the details and had to wing it with this gentleman.

I told him, "I'm sorry, you're wrong. I'm standing in public space and these are public buildings. I have the right to take whatever photos I want." Then I told him it's been well documented in the papers lately.

Surprisingly, he got a concerned look on his face, said, "Oh, I'm sorry," and drove away. I felt kind of excited with the result, but I wonder about how security guards are being trained. Clearly, many are still not being told the facts regarding the rights of photographers in public space.