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Like many other neighborhoods in Washington D.C.’s Northwest quadrant,Forest Hills and Van Ness are tranquil, family-friendly, and enjoy convenient access to the downtown area.
Located in close proximity to each other, these two neighborhoods share certain features but are also contrasting in many ways.
Living in Forest Hills
Forest Hills is an upscale community in upper Northwest D.C. bounded by Connecticut Avenue NW to the west, Rock Creek StreetNW to the east, Van Ness StreetNW to the south, and Chevy Chase to the north.
It is often mistakenly referred to as Van Ness because of the MetroVan Ness-UDC station found along its Connecticut Avenue border, and because of its proximity to the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) Van Ness campus.The neighborhood has a population of over11,000 as of the latest Census figures, compared to Van Ness’ approximately 1,500.
Forest Hills’ name aptly describes what you can expect from the area. It’s richly blanketed by lush mature streets that residents have strived to protect over the years. As an official Tree and Slope Protection Overlay District, the height and ground coverage of the homes and buildings here are restricted in order to preserve the green surroundings.
Locals jokingly refer to the neighborhood as “Ambassador Hill” because of the many ambassador residences found here. The heavily wooded surroundings also give Forest Hills a secluded feel, shielding residents from the frantic pace of the city.
Forest Hills is also known for its excellent schools, as well as for the eclectic architecture found around the neighborhood.
Living in Van Ness
Van Ness is a small neighborhood encompassing the area within the vicinity of UDC-Van Ness and the Van Ness-UDC Metro station. It’s bounded by Van Ness Street NW to the east, Reno Road NW to the west, roughly Yuma Street NW to the north, and Tilden Street NW to the south.
Van Ness is best known for its association with UDC and the Metro station. Considered for years as simply a walk-through neighborhood, Van Ness is seeing a revitalization of its commercial district with the opening of the mixed-use development, Park Van Ness, and the restoration of certain key sites. The area will also see a major facelift to make it more pedestrian friendly.
The revitalization program is seen to put Van Ness on the same path to progress as its neighbors.
Real Estate in Forest Hills and Van Ness
Most of the housing stock in Forest Hills is an eclectic mix of historic and contemporary single-family homes, many of which are well-hidden from street view by lush landscaping and shady trees.
Architectural styles range from early 1900s Tudor, Colonial and Spanish Colonial to modern custom homes with notable designs. Famed architect Travis Price is credited with introducing innovative styles in the neighborhood, creating a shift in its architectural landscape.
Quite a few condos and co-ops are found in the southern part of the neighborhood, offering more affordable options to buyers.
Condos and apartments are the predominant housing types in Van Ness. They come in a wide range of sizes and prices, making this neighborhood an excellent choice for budget-conscious buyers. The planned revitalization of the commercial district is expected to raise the value of properties here, giving them great investment potential.
Lifestyle, Nightlife, Shopping and Dining
- Connecticut Avenue NW is a retail and dining strip serving Forest Hills and Van Ness residents. It boasts many restaurants serving various cuisines, including Italian Pizza Kitchen, Thai Pad, Pho 14 and Bread Furst. Shops and stores include Politics & Prose Bookstore, a Giant Food Store, and Van Ness Wines & Liquors.
- The Hillwood Museum and Gardens is a major attraction in the area. This historic estate was purchased by socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post in 1955, and is now an art museum with a 25-acre garden. Exhibits include a comprehensive collection of Russian imperial art and French decorative art.
- The Forest Hills-Van Ness area is home to two neighboring state parks, Rock Creek Park and Melvin C. Hazen Park. They’re connected by hiking trails, and feature historic structures, a horse park, a planetarium, and more.