Neighborhood Nomad: Pam of Washington


January 9, 2012, Washington, DC: Pam is a realtor born and raised in Washington, DC. That's right. A native Washingtonian. In this hyper-transient city, I sat down with Pam just before Christmas at Logan Circle chocolatier and coffee shop ACKC to learn more about what it is that makes her stay. Where Her Roots Are... I grew up on Capitol Hill, literally right around the corner from Eastern Market. My parents are still there, my older brother was on the Hill for a long time after college and now he lives in Logan Circle also. The ties to Eastern Market are pretty strong because my brother is an artist/designer and he has a business where his employee sets up at Eastern Market every Saturday. His story is kind of unique there: He's a local artist who grew up there and is back there. He used to actually run his whole business out of my parent's garage. I'm not exaggerating when I say my parent's house is like a revolving door for other artists who are in town who are going to be selling or trying out Eastern Market for their goods. On any given weekend, I could come home and this person was sleeping on the sofa and that person was in my old room.

Other DC Neighborhoods She's Called Home... I moved to Logan Circle a little over a year ago, but that was only after moving from Dupont Circle. My fiancé and I were living in a small little one bedroom there, maybe 500 square feet. We actually were not looking to buy at the time, but came across a good deal and decided to move over to Logan.

Through a Realtor's Lens... A lot of the clients I work with are first time homebuyers. They tend to be looking for one or two bedroom condos. Certainly the majority of people who are young and looking to buy are definitely looking in Dupont, Kalorama, Logan Circle. They want accessibility. They want walkability. The trend is moving towards being less reliant on a car, on having your neighborhood be self-sufficient. Logan Circle is definitely desirable, but unfortunately the prices are just getting so high that a lot of people are priced out of it.

The buyers I have that maybe aren't as familiar with the city, that are newer to the city, tend it gravitate towards neighborhoods that are traditionally very popular, like Dupont Circle, like Kalorama. But I always enjoy the opportunity to go to another neighborhood of the city. Right now my favorite neighborhood is Ledroit Park. It's just got a little more character, has a little bit more flavor, is a little bit more diverse. It's got this vibe where things are changing and interesting changes are going on every day. It's a pretty close-knit community over there and the housing inventory is attractive, with these beautiful Victorians.

On Making It Work In The City... It's a crazy expensive city, it is. My parents have interesting stories about how they made it all work in DC. My parents came to DC in the sixties right after the riots and moved into a house on 13th and Maryland Ave. NE that was owned by the city. They spent probably eight years renovating the house. They lived in the house down to the studs and had all kinds of crazy things happen to them there. My parents are pioneers of the city; you hear people say that, but they actually were. On the weekends and at nights and in every spare moment, all they did was work on their house. All of that to say that through real estate, they were able to make this life in DC work.

Growing Up on The Hill... There are so many ways I can't even articulate that living on the Hill shaped me, gave me a better perspective on life. Capitol Hill has changed so much even since I grew up. Even Eastern market, now it's a trendy thing to do. You see people dressed up coming over from other neighborhoods. I don't know if you would have remembered it before the fire and the renovation, but it's still such a fun thing to do. It has this European flavor to it. I have all these memories of walking up to the bakery when I was little and getting a mini eclair or something like that. The best, though, was that the shop Forecast used to be the best coffee and bagel shop on the Hill when we were little. It was called Provisions. It's a really cool space. When you first walked in, where they have the registers there on the right, there were bags this high, down to the ground, burlap bags full of coffee beans. So you'd walk in and it was this overwhelming smell of coffee. You know where they have stairs to go up to the second level now? That was seating in that whole atrium and the bagels were in the back. I used to go there every Saturday after my swim lesson at the Natatorium. That I really, really miss. DC doesn't have very good bagels shops.

I was in the cluster school system on Capitol Hill when I was little. It's Peabody, Watkins and Stuart-Hobson and the idea is that one sort of feeds into the other. I started at Peabody and went through all three of them. Then for high school, I applied to Wilson High School... The friends I made at Wilson are my lifelong friends. I don't know if it's the shared experience of being from here and going through that type of school together, but we are all extremely close. I think in the end, two-thirds of them will probably end up back here and the remaining third will be elsewhere.

Favorite Spots Around Town... My newest favorite place on Capitol Hill is Acqua Al 2. My fiancé used to go to the one in Florence. We went opening day and have gone way too many times since. In Logan, we are absolutely obsessed with Estadio. It's just down the street and on the right, spanish tapas. In Dupont, I tried to vote a place called Plum Blossom as best sushi of all time for City Paper's ranking. It's amazing. They could not be sweeter in there. I love that place. I used to go in all the time. I really wish it would take off.

Where Else She's Lived: I went to college actually only about an hour and forty five minutes outside the city, but it feels like a whole other world. St. Mary's County, Md., is a big fishing community. It's very rural. There was one bar for us to go to at college. Most of your life was spent on campus. If you wanted to do anything like shopping, you went to Target, and if you wanted to go to dinner, you went to Outback because that's all there was. But it was beautiful. It was right by the water. The setting itself was why I picked it.

I spent a couple years after college in Brooklyn, NY. I was in Park Slope. I miss it a little bit. I miss my neighborhood spots. I actually spent a lot more time being outside there than I do in DC. In Park Slope, I lived two blocks from Prospect Park. We used to spend every single nice day there just to hang out. It was such a social place, whether it was picking up a sandwich and sitting in the park, or there were concerts there, or I used to run there a lot. I just find that I don't use outdoor spaces at all in the same way I used to. I drive all the time here, not only for work, but I think when you grown up here, you're lazy about public transportation.

On DC Forever... We are definitely going to be here forever. My fiancé also works in real estate. He runs a real estate website called Urban Turf. Unless we decide to completely jump ship with the industry we're in, our lives are about DC real estate. It's also pretty important to us to be close to family. We're not the type that sees our families all the time, but we like being able to when we want to. And there's never ever been a time when we felt the city didn't have enough interesting options to offer us. We hardly take advantage of even a tiny fraction of it. I think our industry keeps us on top of new, interesting things to try and do. I also think we're in this stage now where we're kind of exploring the city together, and it's the first time in our lives we're really experiencing the city as adults.

We would have no right to say that this city isn't interesting enough.