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Georgetown: Washington’s Exclusive, Historic Neighborhood

GEORGETOWN: WASHINGTON’S EXCLUSIVE, HISTORIC NEIGHBORHOOD

A LOOK INSIDE THIS FAMOUS AREA IN THE U.S. CAPITAL

Georgetown, the exclusive enclave on the Potomac River in the northwest quadrant of Washington, D.C., is defined by its charming cobblestone streets and its predominantly Federal-style architecture.

Founded in the 1750s during the reign of Britain’s King George II, it retains a great sense of the past due to its preservation laws.

“People love Georgetown because of the historic character of the architecture,” says Russell Firestone, senior vice president of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty. “It’s also a walkable neighborhood. That is a key element of why buyers choose Georgetown. You can walk out your front door to a coffee shop, a grocery store, or a restaurant. It’s also a short walk along the Potomac River to the Kennedy Center to attend events.”

Georgetown’s two sections, East Village and West Village, are divided by Wisconsin Avenue, which along with M Street forms the commercial corridors in the neighborhood.

RESIDENCES WITH A PAST

Georgetown real estate, which is synonymous with tony townhouses, offers a variety of single-family residences that span the 1760s to the 1960s. Time virtually stopped at that point because the neighborhood became a historic district with strict restrictions on exterior architectural alterations. “That’s why it has the character and style of an old city,” Firestone says. “You are allowed to create contemporary interiors, but additions can be complicated.”

Georgetown residences have a broad price range depending on size, bedroom count, and finishes. Typically, buyers will spend $1 million to $2 million for a three-bedroom house without parking. Townhouses with parking are typically $3 million and higher, depending on the finishes and lot size. “Only 20% of the properties have parking,” Firestone says. “There are even fewer that have garages. Those with parking spaces have the largest equity growth.”

Property ID: V7QKFM

This three-bedroom Georgetown townhouse has its very own garage.

$4,100,000

Property ID: V7QKFM | sothebysrealty.com

TTR Sotheby’s International Realty

Go to property

The record price was set in 2011, when the Evermay mansion, a two-century-old, 12,000-square-foot Federal manor house set on 3.5 acres, sold for $22 million.

The neighborhood’s few condo and apartment complexes are later additions that were converted from warehouses or industrial buildings but maintain much of the style of the original architecture.

The Papermill Condos, completed in 1978, has 26 units, and the Flour Mill Condos, which opened in 1985, has 59 residences. Prices for two-bedroom homes in these buildings, Firestone says, are $500,000 to $700,000.

According to Firestone, the 70 luxury condos at 3303 Water St., which opened in 2004, are $1.6 million to $8 million, and the residences at the Ritz-Carlton boutique hotel range from $2 million to $7 million.

“It’s a relatively small, stable neighborhood,” he says. “It didn’t lose its value in the recession of 2008-10; it only flattened and rose not too long afterward. Consistently, it has more transactions north of $1 million than the rest of the city.”

WHAT MAKES IT UNIQUE

Georgetown, which is built on the shoreline and hills overlooking the Potomac River, is home to a plethora of recently renovated parks. On the west side, there’s Volta Park (opened in 1769); on the east side are Rose Park (opened in 1918) and Rock Creek Park (opened in 1890). “The houses are built around the parks,” Firestone says. “You can see them outside your front door. It reminds me of Chelsea in London.”

The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, which locals call the C&O, is a National Historical Park. “You can run and ride bikes for miles,” Firestone says.

Other outdoor attractions include Fletcher’s Boathouse, where the annual shad run in April is a major event for fishermen. For more than a century, generations of residents have plied the Potomac in Fletcher’s signature red rowboats.

The neighborhood, home to Georgetown University, also has a number of schools, including Washington International, a prekindergarten through high school language-immersion school; Little Folks, a preschool; and Holy Trinity, for students in prekindergarten through eighth grade.

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