If the “must-haves” on your list for a new home include prestigiously upscale neighborhood, idyllic streets, highly rated restaurants nearby, and yes, perhaps a former U.S. president around the corner, then the historic neighborhood of Kalorama in Washington, D.C. checks off all of these boxes.
On a recent morning wandering through the winding streets of Kalorama, an enclave of the Adams Morgan neighborhood of D.C., the sounds of cardinals, blue jays, and sparrows chirped overhead, while squirrels diligently uncovered their hidden acorns amid sprouting crocuses in a nearby garden.
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With median real estate prices in the seven-figures, this area is home to the affluent and established. The neighborhood is no stranger to high-profile residents, having seen the likes of presidents Warren Harding, William Taft, Herbert Hoover, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin Roosevelt. And now Kalorama is home to former President Barack Obama and his family (plus former first pets, Bo and Sunny) who relocated in January to their 8,200 square-foot rental mansion on Belmont Road, NW. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, first daughter Ivanka Trump and her White House senior adviser husband Jared Kushner, as well as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have also secured properties here.
Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images
According to Zillow, Kalorama’s median home value in February is $1,319,600, which is up 3.4% over the past year. It predicts home values will rise 2% within the next year.
Potential buyers may assume that with the Obamas living down the block, getting around might be tedious. However Tad Stewart of Sotheby’s Realty observed, “while there is certainly security around Mr. Obama’s home–a secret service booth in front of the house—it hasn’t interrupted traffic or had a huge impact on the neighborhood.”
Of the rental, he continued, “It’s an elegant home. A lot of architectural charm; a nice grand home very fitting for a president.”
Rebecca Funk, 33, business owner of feminist shop and community space The Outrage spoke of the neighborhood’s new prestigious residents, saying that while they haven’t changed things too much, “people are talking about it, people are excited.”
Cameron Bess, 36, a senior research adviser who has lived in the area for eight years, confirms the Obamas’ effects on the neighborhood are practically nil, “besides spotting Sunny and Bo with the dog walker.”A six-bedroom French provincial residence with a Kalorama Road address is listed for sale at $5.55 million.
TTR SOTHEBY’S INTERNATIONAL REALTY
A down-to-earth neighborhood with sky-high property values
Meaning “fine view” in Greek, Kalorama’s rural beginnings made way for “one of the finest neighborhoods” in the nation’s capital when in 1830, Poet Joel Barlow purchased an estate naming it such, according to the Ghosts of D.C. blog. Soon the neighborhood expanded around it.
Today, among the stunning palatial colonial homes, the tree-lined streets are dotted with embassies representing the world over. Hannibal, a local dog walker who didn’t give his last name, rolled by on a motorized skateboard behind three energetic pups. Despite the opulent wealth, with each and every home grander than the next, he confirmed down-to-earth is the nature here.
“I’ve worked in this neighborhood for several years and my clients are all very nice,” he said. “They have maids, chefs, groundskeepers, and me, and they’re still very nice people.”
A group of toddlers linked together in a row meandered quietly down the pristine sidewalk of Wyoming Avenue with their caretakers. Another group passed several blocks later in the same formation. The 4-year-old-and-under crowd aside, few are out and about on this glorious day with only the occasional tourist, map-in-hand, traversing the pedestrian-friendly streets seeking historically significant homes to document on their Instagram feeds.
As significant as it is, Michael Rankin, managing partner with TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, pointed out that the personality of the area is not as formal as it appears.
“Certainly the architecture would imply that, but when you peel back the proverbial onion, you really see the park is full of kids, people walking their dogs, and birthday parties at people’s swimming pools,” Mr. Rankin said. “It’s a very family children oriented neighborhood.”A view from the terrace of a six-bedroom, six-bathroom Federal Revival style home sits on Kalorama Circle. The property is listed for sale at $5.2 million.
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The commercial hub nearby
While Kalorama offers no commercial or retail space, Mr. Rankin said, “you’re never more than a 10-15 minute walk away.” Nestled within Adams Morgan, residents are within walking distance of D.C.’s only 24-hour neighborhood with independently owned restaurants, cafes, bookshops, and vintage shops.
Arianne Bennett, the 47-year-old co-owner of Amsterdam Falafelshop, has seen the progress of Adams Morgan since settling there in 2004 with her husband and business partner, Scott Bennett.
“No matter what the vibe or need is, we are accommodated. This is a traditional neighborhood with a vibrant community that has everything,” she said.
Ms. Funk felt that warmth and good nature when opening The Outrage shop. “The community of this neighborhood is awesome,” she said. “Everyone is so supportive of what we’re doing here. It’s so nice to know we’re welcome.”
Ms. Bennett described Adams Morgan as a place where everybody is your neighbor. “We’ve lived all over D.C. and I love Adams Morgan,” she said. “You come out in the morning and experience these local gems; you get to see the neighborhood come awake and come alive.”
“It really picks up at night when people come home,” added Kristen Barden Adams, executive Director of the Adams Morgan Partnership Business Improvement District. Boasting cuisines from six different continents, eateries here include Michelin-starred Tail Up Goat and Donburi, a small Japanese restaurant with only 16 seats.
Day-to-day however, a quick trip to the grocery store means getting into a car. Mr. Bess, points out the lacking amenities for a proper grocery store. “Many of my neighbors do use Peapod or other delivery services,” she said. “I know this problem is magnified across Connecticut Avenue where they have to drop down to DuPont Circle or even Georgetown for any real shopping options.”
More Kalorama amenities
For exercise, runners can take advantage of the peaceful Kalorama streets and even jog to the nearby National Zoo, roughly a mile away. And with no admission fee or lines, one could incorporate quite the scenic route into the routine.
For the spinning obsessed, there’s Flywheel Sports in DuPont. Capital Bikeshare gives commuters an alternate, greener option with the nearest bicycle dock at 20th Street and Florida Avenue, NW.
With all it’s amenities and natural beauty, it is little wonder that Kalorama continues to impress statesmen and others alike.
“Walking through on a warm spring day, it just oozes elegance and charm,” Mr. Stewart said.
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