DC’s McLean Gardens: Quality of Life or Boring Uniformity?

I am back in DC after an extended summer absence. Upon my return I discovered my neighbor had moved to McLean Gardens. This is a laid-back, 60-year-old, 43-acre neighborhood/development in Cleveland Park. You surely know it … all those small, uniform, spread-out, brick apartment buildings off of Wisconsin Avenue NW.  


Quality of Life for Under $500,000

Upper NW DC is lovely but expensive. To me, McLean Gardens offers an excellent compromise for those who like the idea of living in a traditional, colonial house but who prefer a condo because of either lifestyle or price. These days, you might find two bedrooms, two baths, and even a den for under $500,000. The condos often have two levels, and most have hardwood floors. You’ll get acres of green space and adjacent parks, playgrounds, a pool, mid-to-low-ish condo fees, plus views of parkland and National Cathedral. You can sign up to get your own vegetable plot at the neighboring Newark St. Community Garden. Also, you can get the best thin-crust pizza in DC at nearby Two Amy’s

In other words, you get a great quality of life. But it may not be the place for the fast lane crowd.    

My taste is not universal, of course. I tried to convince a girlfriend about McLean Gardens a few years ago. She hated the place because of its resemblance to older military housing.

She does have a point. I am also one who dislikes housing developments full of identical buildings. And, in fact, the development did begin life as a housing project for an influx of defense workers during World War II. But she is an artist who probably doesn’t love colonial architecture anyway. Personally, I could live with some external uniformity when considering the rest. And it sure beats moving to the suburbs for the same kind of fresh air and quiet location. At the same time, it isn’t very close to the Metro. You would need to take a bus if you use public transport.

There are four properties for sale in McLean Gardens at the moment:  

Two bedrooms:

3680 38th St NW #244 - $445,000 – 2 beds/1 bath. This is a corner unit with 1,146 sqft and exposure on three sides (another reason to like small buildings.) It’s been on the market for about 40 days. Monthly fee: $335.

3500 39th St NW #A667 - $455,000 – 2 beds/2 baths, plus den. This is a bi-level apartment with 1,261 sqft. The listing says it is in ”turn key condition,” with renovated kitchen and baths. On the market for over 60 days, with one price reduction. Monthly fee: $491.

3600 38th Street NW #276 - $479,000 – 2 bed/1bath. This two-story loft apartment is special. It has an open floor plan, lots of light and 1,290 sqft to move around in. The MLS pictures are really nice. It looks like the second bedroom is actually the loft and not enclosed for now – but I am not sure.  It has been on the market over 80 days, with 2 price drops. 

One bedroom:

3541 39th St NW #507 – $379,000 – New on the market. 1 bed/1 bath, with 781 sqft. Refinished floors, S/S appliances, extra storage unit. Monthly fee: $307.

Enjoy your day!

  • Bull

    A word of caution–McLean Gardens is hiking their condo fees by 10% in 2009, and imposing a special 13th month assessment this December. They’ve added similar special assessments several times over the last few years for specific projects, but this one is to cover a budget shortfall based on rising utility costs. Additionally, there is discussion about replacing the windows, and that would require a special assessment to each owner that would be enormous. McLean Gardens is a great place to live, but check into these things before buying.

  • http://washingtondc.redfin.com/blog/author/allison.scuriatti allison.scuriatti

    Oooohhhhhh. Darn. What a great insider’s tip. If you hear of any updates, I am sure other readers/potential buyers would be interested to know.

    Unfortunately, this will make McLean Gardens somewhat less affordable. I agree, though, it is still a great place to live and more than worthy of consideration.