What Neighborhoods Will Be The Next Hot Spots?

OnSite Fall 2008

In a splashy cover story this week, the quarterly magazine sent to thousands of local business leaders this week considers which Washington, D.C. neighborhoods will be the next “hot spots.”

The story appears in OnSite, a quarterly glossy magazine sent to subscribers of the Washington Business Journal. With a password-only website, the story’s only readers will be the 16,600+ subscribers who pay over $100 a year to receive the weekly newspaper.

Featuring incendiary graphics (above) and a map with the neighborhood identified with crosshairs, the article will do little to sooth the concerns of activists fearful their neighborhoods will be targets for new development with or without their input. Surprisingly, only 4 of the 13 are within the boundary of D.C., a sign of how much investment has happened in District neighborhoods and the barriers to additional development. In addition to the neighborhoods shown on the map below, the magazine additionally identified Gaithersburg and Laurel in Maryland and Occoquan in Virginia.

OnSite Fall 2008 - Crop

The article proposes a number of variables to predict where people “want to live, work and hang out.” They are: accessible to roads, near Metro or other rail, near water or riverfront, geographically distinctive, near parks and recreation, near anchor or stadium, upward economic capacity, arts uses, main gathering place, historical features, interesting architecture, and pedestrian oriented.

The most surprising locations may be Landover (picked due to the ongoing Landover Gateway planning effort), Greenbelt (which we covered on Rethink College Park), and Prince William County’s Occoquan.

Occoquan? Despite being over 20 miles from Washington, OnSite thinks the tiny historic town’s proximity to to I-95, several VRE stations, Fort Belvoir and Quantico bases, nearby “smart-growth style developments,” and attractive waterfront will make it a hotspot for growth.

What do you think of their picks? What places — or factors — are missing from the analysis?

Author: Rob Goodspeed


  1. There are two kinds of urbanity that people idealize – that of big cities and that of small towns. Places like Laurel, Occoquan and Mount Rainier can offer that small-town character. Old Town Laurel may be run-down in parts, but it’s got great urbanism – gridded streets, good 19th-century architecture, a variety of building types, all of which are crazy affordable compared to their counterparts downtown, and none of which can be re-created in new developments like Konterra or Kentlands. That’s why it’s important to market them aggressively – Philadelphia already has for their suburban small towns with their “Classic Towns” initiative.

    How can non-subscribers to the WBJ get ahold of this series? (Rob, do you know if U-Md.’s got the hook-up?)

  2. I think for suburban locales:
    Gaithersburg, Takoma Park (if NIMBYism subsides), Mt. Rainer (this one really came out of nowhere, eh?), Shirlington, Columbia Pike, and Greenbelt.

    For urban areas:
    -Historic Anacostia (and Poplar Point in like 7 years)
    -H Street (obviously)
    -PETWORTH/GA AVE (ok, so it’s primarily residential, but Georgia Ave has major potential for bars & restaurants- NIMBYs cant complain about bars on major commercial strips)
    -14th Street from Thomas Circle to Columbia Heights (lots of restaurants on the way)

  3. Gaithersburg and Laurel must be all about the Inter County connector.

    The list seems to have been made with affordability in mind. Real estate is cheaper on a relative basis in these outlying areas.

    I don’t think these ‘up and coming’ areas will rise any time soon, though. The real estate boom has given way to bust. We will have to wait for another cycle before any drastic turnaround in these communities occurs – if ever.

    I would not recommend that buyers speculate on anything that is labeled ‘up and coming’ right now.

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