Greater Greater Washington

Posts in category Smart Growth

People walking and biking will get a new connection from L'Enfant Plaza to the waterfront

At the south end of the L'Enfant Promenade is a circle, Banneker Circle, atop a hill overlooking the waterfront. Unfortunately, the only way to get down to the water on foot or by bike requires a circuitous and unpleasant route. That will soon change.


Conceptual rendering of a connection from the SW Ecodistrict Plan. Image from NCPC.

Today, there is a narrow and cheaply-built path that cuts diagonally over to the intersection of 9th Street and Maine Avenue. People bicycling can either take that or ride along a road that feels a bit like a highway off-ramp to 9th Street. This makes people go fairly far out of the way, especially for those who want to then go north along the waterfront.


Banneker Circle and Banneker Park. Images via NPS unless otherwise noted.

As part of its package of amenities to get zoning approval, the Wharf project will build a new, temporary, direct pedestrian connection. The connection will consist of stairs and a new at-grade crossing of Maine, but include an ADA ramp that will work for cyclists.

The scoping document for the environmental impact statement says,

The temporary project also includes landscaping, improvements to pedestrian crosswalks, lighting installation, universal accessibility, and stormwater management. The purpose of the project is to provide a safe, functional, and aesthetically pleasing pedestrian connection between the overlook at Banneker Park and southwest waterfront. The project is needed to improve urban connectivity by providing greater accessibility between the waterfront, Banneker Park, the National Mall, and surrounding areas.
There are two concepts for the project and, to me, the better of the two is a no-brainer.


Concept 1.

Concept 1 would try to create a direct path down the hill. This would require a switchback ramp and stairs down the hill from a point a little way from the bike/ped access to the Case Bridge, the bridge that takes I-395 over the Washington Channel.


Concept 2.

Concept 2 would build a curving connection directly from the Case Bridge access point along with an ADA compliant sidewalk on the east side. The west-side stairs would connect to a new signalized crossing of Maine Avenue.

Both projects include landscaping, crosswalk improvements, lighting and stormwater management.

Concept 2 is the better design because of the way it removes switchbacks, allowing for a more fluid connecton, and the way it connects into the Case Bridge access.

The design should include a curb ramp from the L'Enfant Plaza roadway, as well as a bicycle-friendly transition area where the three connections meet—one with lots of room and natural curves as opposed to sharp turns.


The path to Maine Avenue (left) and to the Case Bridge (right) have no curb ramps. Photos from Google Maps.

Right now, there is no curb ramp to get from the roadway to either the path down to Maine Avenue or the path to the Case Bridge; a cyclist riding on the wide, very low-traffic L'Enfant Promenade instead of the sidewalk then has to get over the curb to go on either path.

The stairs should also include a bike trough, the ramp next to steps that lets people walk their bikes up or down the stairs, and there should be signs directing users to the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail and East Potomac Park via the Case Bridge. Also, the sidewalk along the south side of the circle should be widened for trail traffic from the bridge to the "new ADA compliant ramp."

If only it would include a fix to the Case Bridge access that didn't require the ridiculous switchback that's there today.

In the long run, the National Capital Planning Commission's Southwest Ecodistrict vision includes completely redoing 10th Street from a wide, empty promenade into a street with pedestrian activity, green plots, and festivals. That plan calls for completely redoing Banneker Park into a usable park instead of a traffic circle atop an empty hill. That redesigned park would also let people on foot and bike connect more directly to Maine Avenue and the waterfront.

The National Park Service will host a meeting on this project on August 11th, 6-8pm at the Wharf offices, 690 Water Street, SW and they will be accepting comments on the scoping document until September 2nd.

A version of this post was originally posted on TheWashCycle.

Denver's beautiful Union Station mixes old and new

When Denver needed a new transit hub, city leaders naturally looked at the city's aging Union Station. Now after a massive expansion, Union Station is a monument to multimodalism, and a beautiful architectural mix of ornate old and shimmering new.


Denver Union Station. Photo by Ryan Dravitz.

The new Denver Union Station combines five transit modes with expansive new and refurbished public spaces, and a brand new transit-oriented neighborhood.

Historic depot building

The station is anchored by the beautifully renovated 1894 depot building, with its lovingly restored, bright, airy waiting room. The ground floor includes popular restaurants and bars, along with table shuffleboard sets and occasional live music performances. The upper floors now host a boutique hotel.


Waiting room. Photo by Ryan Dravitz.

Plazas surrounding the outside of the depot building are well-landscaped, and integrate nicely with the bustling LoDo neighborhood across the street. They form the northern end of Denver's 16th Street pedestrian mall, and are a vast improvement over the surface parking lots that formerly occupied the same space.

Multimodal transit

The station brings together Amtrak, commuter rail, light rail, and local and intercity buses.

New commuter and light rail lines are the major components of Denver's impressive FasTracks plan, which is adding about 100 miles of new rail to the city's transit network. Union Station will be the hub.

Immediately behind the historic depot lie the new platforms for Amtrak and commuter rail. They're partially covered by the grandest train shed in America.


Intercity and commuter rail platforms. Photo by Ryan Dravitz.

For now there's only a slow trickle of Amtrak trains using these platforms. But starting in 2016 when Denver's new commuter rail lines begin to open, it will bustle.


Denver's coming transit lines. Photo by DearEdward on Flickr.

Beneath the train shed lies Union Station's subterranean bus depot, the closest thing Denver has to a subway.

The bus depot serves as both a transit terminal and a pedestrian walkway between the main station and the light rail platforms, further beyond the train shed. It's a long walk from one end to the other, but it's an attractive space.

At the far end, Denver's light rail. The city has had light rail since 1994, but it's expanding under the FasTracks program.

Beyond the light rail, active freight rail tracks pass by to the northwest.


Entrance to the bus terminal and light rail station, with freight tracks to the right. Photo by the author.

Transit-oriented development

While the station itself is finished and open to the traveling public, the surrounding land is only half-complete. The former industrial railyards behind the station are being redeveloped as a new high-rise neighborhood.

Millions of square feet of development are planned, with thousands of new housing units in the pipeline. Multiple blocks of mixed-use infill development are under construction.

Denver is undergoing a population and building boom, so planners and developers anticipate high demand for the new units. The South Platte River Valley just to the north is also a fun and attractive part of the city, popular with tourists, cyclists, and shoppers visiting REI's flagship store on the left bank of the river, housed in the former power plant for Denver's streetcar system.

When it's all complete, Denver will have an impressive new urban neighborhood, fully integrated with and surrounding its new transit hub.


New buildings going up. Photo by the author.

A model for DC

The plan to redevelop Washington Union Station is, if anything, even more ambitious and complex than Denver's.

But as the DC area prepares to make that plan a reality, we can draw lessons from Denver's successes. Colorado's experience shows that it's possible to integrate multimodal planning and strong land use decisions, to a beautiful result.

We're hiring! Come work for us or help us find great people!

Greater Greater Washington is growing and working more on housing. We're looking to grow our team with two new, amazing people. Is that you? Or do you know someone who fits the bill?


Hiring photo from Shutterstock.

Our new Community Engagement Manager will develop our new housing program by building relationships with people in a wide range of neighborhoods, planning in-person events, recruiting people to write for the web, and organizing people to get involved directly in pushing for solutions to rising housing costs in their communities.

Our Managing Director will strengthen our organization by handling all of the necessary and vitally important pieces of actually making a nonprofit tick, including managing staff day to day, fundraising, handling things like computers and office space, and working with the board to develop clear goals for programs and staff.

The detailed job descriptions are below, or you can download a PDF. Consider applying, and we'd also really appreciate your help spreading the word, especially to people and communities who don't already read Greater Greater Washington. Thank you!

Managing Director

Do you passionately enjoy growing small nonprofit organizations and thinking about how to make them sustainable? Do you also care deeply about walkable urban places, transportation options like transit and bicycling, and increasing housing choices for people of all incomes? Do you want to take Greater Greater Washington to its next level of growth?

Greater Greater Washington is growing from an organization with one part-time employee to three full-time employees. This opens up exciting new possibilities but also requires us to build our organization and sources of support to make that level sustainable, and hopefully grow beyond as well. We need a Managing Director to take primary charge of fundraising, staff, and day-to-day office operation.

The Managing Director will:

  • Develop, supervise, and mentor the Staff Editor and Community Engagement Manager on a day-to-day basis to ensure that they have a clear work plan and the resources they need to succeed; write regular performance reviews in consultation with the Board of Directors
  • Create plans to increase contributed and earned revenue, track existing sources of revenue, and execute on plans with assistance from the Board of Directors and other volunteers
  • Manage the daily operations of the organization such as monitoring spending and income, and securing office space, computers, and other basic needs of the organization
  • Guide, encourage, and recruit volunteer members of our editorial board to continue to steer the website's direction, contribute content, and handle specific portfolios of responsibilities.
  • Work closely with the Founder and President as well as other board members to guide the strategic direction for the organization
  • Staff meetings of the Board of Directors and assist the board in recruiting new members
Candidates must have:
  • At least four years of experience in small nonprofit organizations including experience with organizational development
  • At least three years of experience with fundraising for nonprofits including creating and implementing fundraising plans, ideally including experience fundraising from foundations, corporate sources, and developing earned revenue. Experience with Washington-area philanthropy is a strong plus.
  • Proven ability to work with board members and volunteers with a wide range of personalities to keep them engaged and interested and mediate interactions as needed
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and strong communication skills
  • Talent for thinking strategically and ability to balance immediate and long-term priorities
  • Ability to work independently, without day-to-day direction from others, and to work occasional evenings and weekends
  • Understanding of and experience with multiple parts of the Washington region in DC, Maryland, and Virginia
  • A passion for urban planning and transportation, a deep desire to see more vibrant walkable places in a growing and inclusive region, and some understanding of the policy issues behind it; having regularly read Greater Greater Washington for a substantial period of time is a strong plus
This is a full-time, salaried position. The position involves working with a small team of four people in office space that we will soon secure somewhere in central DC. Women and people of color are strongly encouraged to apply.

To apply, please send a resume; a cover letter explaining your interest and qualifications for the position, and why you want to be a part of our team; and two work samples (fundraising, media, marketing, or other written materials) to jobs@ggwash.org with "Managing Director" in the subject line.


Community engagement photo from Shutterstock.

Community Engagement Manager

Are you as alarmed as we are that Washington, DC is rapidly turning into a place that poor, middle class, and even many upper middle class people cannot afford to live in? Do you want to help us ensure that DC has room for everyone who wants to come live here or stay in the communities where they've long lived? Do you enjoy talking to people face to face? If so, you might be perfect to be Greater Greater Washington's Community Engagement Manager.

The Community Engagement Manager will be able to build an exciting new program for Greater Greater Washington that will involve building relationships, convening conversations, and organizing residents across divides and barriers in DC. The role involves working with people in communities all around the city in person and also helping elevate their voices to a higher level by working with them to create content for the Greater Greater Washington website.

The Community Engagement Manager will:

  • Build relationships with neighborhood leaders, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners, civic association leaders, faith community leaders, and other stakeholders in all eight wards of DC to discuss housing capacity and displacement issues and build coalitions to pursue solutions
  • Organize and facilitate conversations and educational events in communities around DC
  • Cultivate existing grassroots supporters and locate and engage new supporters through online and offline grassroots outreach techniques
  • Experiment with ways to generate content for the website from in-person events, such as written summaries, audio or video, social media roundups, or other content
  • Identify people who can and are willing to effectively write about their experiences, their visions, and/or development projects in their neighborhoods from all parts of DC
  • Mobilize people to contact District officials and councilmembers, attend community meetings, council hearings, zoning hearings, and other events
Candidates must have:
  • At least three years of experience organizing in electoral or issue advocacy campaigns
  • Experience working in traditionally underserved communities, ideally including District of Columbia wards 7 and 8
  • Ability to attend many community meetings during evenings and weekends
  • Proficiency in using social media to reach a wide audience
  • An outgoing personality and comfort speaking with people from a range of backgrounds
  • Strong writing skills. Experience in media or communications is a plus
  • A strong commitment to walkable, inclusive communities and the transportation networks and other infrastructure needed to support them
  • Experience in economics, housing finance, community development, or related fields also a plus
This is a full-time, salaried position. The position involves a lot of time in the field and working with a small team of four people in office space that we will soon secure somewhere in central DC. Women and people of color are strongly encouraged to apply.

To apply, please send a resume; cover letter explaining your interest in housing capacity in Washington DC, your qualifications for the position, and why you want to be a part of our team; and two short writing samples to jobs@ggwash.org with "Community Engagement Manager" in the subject line.

What we hope to do on housing

Greater Greater Washington will be growing thanks to a generous gift and foundation grant, and increasing our focus on housing. Here's what we have in mind for housing.


Welcome mat photo from Shutterstock.

Rising housing prices in DC and many in-demand parts of the region is one of the biggest challenges our region faces. With rising prices comes displacement of longtime residents, while people who want to move to walkable, transit-oriented neighborhoods find themselves priced out and shut out.

We've talked about these issues on Greater Greater Washington since the site began, but we hope to do much more, including discussions about more neighborhoods and featuring voices of more residents (and potential residents).

We also hope to bring the discussion offline. Greater Greater Washington has been able to bring together a community of people who want to discuss the shape of the neighborhoods in the Washington region and how they are changing, but not everyone sits in front of a computer all day at work with the freedom to click over to non-work websites every so often (which, face it, is the way most of you read the site).

Finding solutions to housing problems that are truly inclusive requires having a conversation beyond just the website itself. We want to foster more conversations in person, so that more people can participate and so that members of our current community engage more with neighbors with different backgrounds and life experiences.

At the same time, we're still a media site and our biggest strength is sharing information with a wide range of people. Therefore, as we convene offline discussions, we'll look for ways—maybe text, maybe video, or who knows—to let those who can't attend an event still hear from the people who could.


Multicolored houses image from Shutterstock.

Let's make sure there is enough housing for all

Our region must build enough housing for the people who want to come here without displacing those who are already here. That includes enough housing at the top of the market, lower-priced but unsubsidized housing in cheaper areas, and guaranteed "affordable housing" as well.

The San Francisco Bay Area is in the middle of a major housing crisisfar, far worse than here—because it didn't build nearly enough new housing. We can't let that happen in DC.

Building enough housing is going to require every neighborhood to do its part. It's simply not fair for some neighborhoods, especially wealthy and powerful ones, to tell other neighborhoods that the brunt of all new housing construction must fall there.

That doesn't mean residents should have no say in how their neighborhoods grow. Maybe some places in a neighborhood aren't the right ones for new housing, but other spots are. We'd like to spark conversations, both online and offline, about the best and most sustainable ways for neighborhoods to grow. We want all residents (and prospective residents) to be able to participate in those conversations, no matter their backgrounds.

We don't expect to come in with all of the answers for each neighborhood. The answers aren't one-size-fits-all. What can span across neighborhoods are some basic values. We'd start with "growing, inclusively." We should seek to welcome all people, not shut them out, and welcome greater diversity of background and income level.

We might have a good home in a neighborhood we love, but not all do. We might have good access to our jobs, but many do not. What we value in a place, we should wish to make available to others as well. When I started Greater Greater Washington, I wrote, "As the region grows, we must preserve what already works and expand what is possible, to ensure that there are enough great neighborhoods for everyone who wants to live, work, shop or play in one."

As it happens, "growing an inclusive city" is the tagline for the 2007 DC Comprehensive Plan. The District will soon begin the process of revising the "Comp Plan," which could be one excellent forum for this conversation and an opportunity to ask the District to clearly envision the growing, inclusive city of coming decades. This is also an issue that affects the entire region, and every jurisdiction needs to play a part as well.

If you would like to be part of this conversation, add your name here. You can help organize discussions, write articles about housing in your community, or just join the discussion online and offline. And if you would like to organize it as your job, check back tomorrow when we post our open positions.

Big news! We're growing and doing more on housing

We're excited to bring you big news for Greater Greater Washington. We've just gotten a donation and a grant which will make it possible to improve and expand our content and add a bigger focus on housing, an issue we've long hoped to cover in more detail.


Growing house image from Shutterstock.

Greater Greater Washington started out as a labor of love and a volunteer operation. I started this site in 2008 to write (and learn!) about the forces shaping our communities. It grew as more and more people wanted to read, comment, contribute articles, help edit, and run more of the site.

We will always be a community-driven site, but some things are difficult when your community is all volunteers. We need an editor to help our contributors turn great ideas into effective articles that inform and educate interested residents across our region and beyond.

Our annual reader drives bring in enough money to hire an editor part-time: first Dan Reed, now Jonathan Neeley. The fact is, though, that bringing you four articles every weekday and constantly recruiting new contributors needs to be a full-time job. And that's not to mention our desire to give our editor a decent living.

Unfortunately, it's very hard to be a nonprofit with just one staff member. It takes time to manage an organization, and even though we all wish this didn't have to be the case, it takes time to raise money as well.

In addition, while we've always written about housing issues such as the DC zoning update's efforts to legalize basement and garage apartments, there's a lot more to discuss about housing affordability. We also really want to expand this conversation to more communities all around DC and the region, including east of the Anacostia River.

Enter the Open Philanthropy Project

We recently spoke with the Open Philanthropy Project, an effort funded primarily by former Wall Street Journal reporter Cari Tuna and her husband, tech entrepreneur Dustin Moskovitz (Facebook, Asana).

"Open Phil," as they call it, is working to give away billions in a wide range of areas, like public health in the developing world, forestalling potential catastrophes that could wipe out the human race, and a number of US policy topics like criminal justice reform and labor mobility (all great causes!) You can learn a lot more about Open Phil from recent feature profiles in the Washington Post and Vox.

One of Open Phil's priority US policy causes is expanding housing in supply-constrained metro areas. Restrictive zoning and other rules make housing far too scarce and expensive, particularly in the most desirable, highest-wage metro areas. This locks out all but the wealthiest people from the opportunity to live in good neighborhoods with easy access to the best jobs. These metro areas should be adding a lot more housing to meet the demand.

That's an issue we have worked on since Greater Greater Washington was founded, and when we heard that Open Phil was interested in supporting work on housing supply in the Washington region, we spoke with them. Based on those discussions, Tuna decided to make a personal gift of $75,000 to Greater Greater Washington (which is in the process of registering as a 501(c)(4)) for non-political use, and Open Phil made a two-year, $275,000 grant to our 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor, Smart Growth America. These contributions will help us expand our efforts and do much more work on housing issues.

We will be able to support the activities of three full-time staff. Jonathan will be converting to full time and continue editing the site while adding some more responsibilities. We'll be hiring two additional people, and we'll talk about that more in an upcoming post.

Open Phil, true to its name, openly posts an analysis of each grant it gives. You can read the summary of its thinking about our grant here.


Community growing photo from Shutterstock.

Some very important things won't change

We want to emphasize three elements of Greater Greater Washington that will NOT change.

First, we will always continue to be community-driven. Just as, say, Wikipedia has a staff and a foundation and raises funds to keep things going, but its content still comes from its community, the same applies to us (though on a far, far smaller scale).

Our articles will continue to be written by members of our community who want to tell stories about changes in their neighborhoods or policies they've learned about. Our volunteer editorial board will continue handling a lot of the site's day-to-day operation, like looking at emails, moderating comments, and organizing fun events.

Most importantly, the editorial board will continue setting our editorial policies to ensure we stay true to our community.

Second, we'll still need support from our readers and many others. This isn't the gravy train that'll set us up for life. Open Phil is not funding 100% of what we need for this growth, and is only promising support for two years.

That means we need to keep up and grow the reader drives, reach out to foundations, and much more. This makes it even more important to have support from all of you.

Finally, this new housing focus will not detract from our existing content. We'll still be writing about transit, parks and architecture, education, and many other topics our community members want to discuss.

Stay tuned

Tomorrow, we'll post more about our ideas and plans around housing, and then we'll talk about who we want to hire to execute on our exciting new plan.

We're really looking forward to embarking on this new phase of Greater Greater Washington's growth with you!

What's behind the low standardized test scores in one high-priced DC neighborhood

Generally, housing prices in DC correlate with neighborhood school test scores. But Garrison Elementary in Logan Circle is a striking exception: it's a school with math and reading proficiency rates in the mid-20s in an area where the median sale price for a three-bedroom home last year was over a million dollars.


Photo of Garrison Elementary from DCPS website.

Garrison's principal, Collin Hill, says that he, like others, was a little surprised that prices within the school's boundaries were so high. But he also says his school's test scores don't tell the whole story, and that Garrison is on an upward trajectory.

In 2012, DC Public Schools announced it was planning to close Garrison, located at 1200 S Street NW, because of low enrollment. Built for 350 students, the school had only 228.

But parents at the school mounted a massive effort to convince DCPS to reverse its decision, promising to boost enrollment to 344 by 2016. As a result, DCPS not only agreed to keep the school open but also pledged to modernize the dilapidated building.

That pledge has yet to be fulfilled, as DC officials have repeatedly postponed the funding for Garrison's renovation. And while enrollment has increased, last year it was still only 244. For next year, DCPS has projected a figure of 260.

Test scores at the school have actually declined over the past several years. Proficiency rates in 2011-12 were 51% for math and 45% for reading. They dipped to 33% and 31%, respectively, in 2012-13. For 2013-14, they were 23% and 25%.

The connection between gentrification and test scores can be complex

Generally, of course, schools in affluent neighborhoods have high test scores. In areas where housing prices have long been high, that has a lot to do with the fact that schools enroll affluent kids, who tend to score better than low-income kids on standardized tests.

In gentrifying neighborhoods, the reasons for the correlation between scores and housing prices can be more complex. Scores may rise as affluent families begin sending their kids to a low-performing neighborhood school, and those rising scores in turn attract more affluent families. Ideally, scores of low-income kids at the school also increase as the school improves.

Logan Circle, the neighborhood where Garrison is located, is a gentrification poster child. Longtime Washingtonians may remember it as a rough area they did their best to avoid 20 or 30 years ago. In the past few years, it's become a bustling downtown mecca where it can be impossible to snag a table at a restaurant—or a condo, if you don't have $900,000.

Of course, many of the people paying high prices for homes around Logan Circle aren't sending their kids to Garrison. They may not have school-age kids, or they may be in a position to afford a private school. Some may figure they'll luck out in the lottery for charter schools or DCPS schools in other neighborhoods.

Still, according to the DCPS website, 48% of Garrison's students live within the school's boundaries. For a DCPS school, that's a respectable figure. While some schools draw over 80% of their students from within their boundaries, even many with high test scores draw far fewer. John Eaton—a high-performing school in affluent Cleveland Park—has only 45% in-boundary students.

Multiple factors may explain low scores at Garrison

But the wealthier neighborhood families who send their kids to Garrison aren't generally sticking around long enough for their kids to have a positive effect on the school's test scores. As at many other schools in gentrifying neighborhoods, affluent residents have tended to send their kids there for preschool and kindergarten and then peel off for other schools. DCPS testing doesn't begin until 3rd grade, by which time classes are predominantly filled with lower-income kids.

The uncertainty about Garrison's future two years ago may have exacerbated that trend among families who could muster the resources to find another school.

Principal Hill also says that at a small school like his, a small number of weak students in a given year can pull average scores down significantly.

And scores may well improve in the future. Hill says he's been laying the groundwork for that kind of improvement, but it takes time to see results.

Hill took over the school in 2012, shortly before DCPS announced plans to close it, with a mandate to increase in-boundary enrollment. He set in motion a number of changes. For one thing, he says, the school's previous administration focused its efforts on the grades that were tested instead of building a strong foundation in basic skills in lower grades.

Hill has changed that approach, and he says it's paying off. All but two of last year's kindergarteners ended the year with reading skills at grade level, he says. And on measures of reading comprehension for students below 3rd grade, Garrison scored among the top ten schools in the district. That was true for both the lowest-performing kids and those who were just below where they should have been.

There's also been almost a complete turnover in teaching staff since Hill took over. While some of that was "natural turnover," Hill says, some of it has reflected improvements he wanted to make. And he's introduced a new math curriculum, a writing initiative that has seen good results at other DCPS schools, and a calmer school culture.

Test scores aren't everything

More fundamentally, Hill says test scores aren't the full measure of a school. If neighborhood residents come visit Garrison, he says, they'll find a "community where people feel welcomed and valued." He cites his own experience as a parent some years ago at Maury Elementary on Capitol Hill.

"When our kids went to Maury," he says, "the test scores were not phenomenal. But when my wife walked in, she said it felt like a friendly, supportive place."

Clearly, that's what a number of neighborhood parents have experienced at Garrison and one reason they fought so hard to keep it open. One parent who had a negative reaction to Garrison's former principal had the opposite reaction to Hill.

"He's smart, engaged, well-spoken, and aware of the challenges he faces," she wrote in a post for Greater Greater Education two years ago.

Garrison may well get a respite from a focus on test scores for a while. Because DC gave students new, more rigorous tests this past school year, scores coming out this fall won't be comparable to those from past years. As a result, they may be de-emphasized—or perhaps even not made public.

That could help draw even more neighborhood families to Garrison, and possibly encourage them to stay longer. But Garrison, like most DCPS elementary schools, suffers from a feeder pattern problem: no matter how good the elementary school gets, families may not want to stick around and risk being funneled to a middle school and high school they lack confidence in.

Currently, the destination school for Garrison students is Cardozo Education Campus, which houses 6th through 12th grades. Formerly a low-performing high school with a rough reputation, Cardozo reopened two years ago after one of DCPS's typically stunning renovations. The new building also absorbed what had previously been a stand-alone middle school, Shaw at Garnet-Patterson.

It's not clear how many Garrison parents will be willing to send their 6th-graders on to Cardozo. The new school boundary plan that DC has adopted calls for reviving a separate Shaw middle school that would serve as the destination for Garrison students. There's no word, though, on when or if that school will actually be built.

But more and more residents of Logan Circle, like residents of Capitol Hill and other gentrifying areas, may well decide that a convenient, welcoming neighborhood elementary school that is on the upswing is worth something, even without the promise of a high-quality feeder pattern. Maybe even a million bucks.

Cross-posted at DC Eduphile.

Vacant for nearly a year, the White Flint Mall is falling apart. Take a video tour of the inside.

The White Flint Mall used to be one of the region's luxurious shopping centers, but all but a single store closed last year. This drone video explores the mall's now-decaying remains.

The video is by Mike Purks. It gives viewers a full tour, from the mall's overgrown outside and empty parking lots to its dust-covered elevator shafts and crumbling roofs.

Malls are closing all across the country, with consumers preferring to shop online and spend their leisure time in walkable, mixed-use areas rather than inside of enclosed retail environments. Though a Lord & Taylor store is still open there, the White Flint Mall is a symbol of how this is happening in our region.

The mall is slated for an ambitious redevelopment in the coming years, and it could serve as a blueprint for similar buildings facing the same changes.

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