Greater Greater Washington

Development


Are Logan Circle's changes wonderful, or something else?

14th Street and Logan Circle have developed into a premier destination in DC, and there is much to celebrate about that. But the neighborhood is also becoming an ever-more-exclusive neighborhood that increasingly feels out of reach for many.


Photo by thisisbossi on Flickr.

Transformation has raced ahead

The Washington Post wrote this weekend about "Gentrification in Overdrive on 14th Street." What is occurring along 14th Street now, one could scarcely even call "gentrification" any more.

I work just a few blocks west of 14th Street, and venture over there occasionally. Before, I lived there for 5 years, wrote a blog about the area, and was on a first-name basis with many 14th Street business owners. I felt as if I knew every building and block by heart.

What I find is a neighborhood that, in less than two years' time, has transformed to a point where even I barely recognize it.

The admittedly sensitive topic of "gentrification" came up in roundabout ways numerous times during my 14th Street blogging days. Commenters would bemoan the loss of the supposed "character" of old 14th Street with the opening of every new wine bar or high-end furniture store. Escalating housing costs and businesses that were increasingly perceived to cater to a certain demographic (often white, always wealthy) led to a great amount of suspicion. And even many of us who didn't regard every restaurant opening with skepticism, such as myself, still questioned in what direction the neighborhood was headed, and who stood to benefit.

With the skyrocketing real estate prices and the nature of the businesses flooding into the corridor, I now feel that we have an answer to those questions. And if you aren't in a position to afford a $900,000 condo, you probably aren't going to like those answers.

It's better... but is it 'wonderful?'

It's a given that a city needs revenue in order to provide services to its citizens. Inhabited, maintained, tax revenue-generating properties are a positive for the city. And when the businesses that fill properties along commercial corridors succeed, they not only put revenue in the city's coffers, they incite more businesses to open and help to cultivate an energy and vitality that many seek via city living. Ideally, you have a win-win situation: a more bustling, energetic city that is providing more and better-quality services to its residents.

Harriet Tregoning, director of the DC Office of Planning, told the Post, "What is going on on 14th Street is fascinating, anomalous and wonderful for the city." Fascinating, yes. Anomalous, perhaps. Wonderful? Well that depends on who you ask, and who you are.

You won't find many who clamor for the conditions of the "old" 14th Street, or at least not the social ills that plagued it and surrounding streets throughout much of the latter-half of the 20th century. I have family members who lived along the corridor in the mid-80s who can regale you with stories of the drug transactions, prostitution, and other activities that took place just outside their front door.

The corridor was woefully underdeveloped, a victim of the flight out of the city that began in the late 1950s and reached its zenith immediately following the 1968 riots. In that respect, there's little argument that 14th Street is in a better place today than it was 20 or 30 years ago.

But there is no shortage of people who clamor for a more connected and sustainable neighborhood, one more accessible to a broader array of people where there's a greater likelihood that many of its residents will be able to put down roots and investment in its improvement for the long term.

A significant reason why 14th Street was able to turn around and become a desirable address was the tireless work of many residents who moved there during the 1970s, '80s and '90sand remained. There were no million-dollar penthouse condos there then, and that was part of its appeal. But at some point the prices started rising, and haven't stopped since.

Stability quickly turns into unaffordability

For many people, there didn't seem to be much of an "in between" stage for 14th Street and Logan Circle. The neighborhood never really seemed to strike that balance between offering stability and a good quality of life with affordability and approachability.

It seemed to vault between two extremes over a relatively short period of time. The change that took place along 14th Street was drastic, and whenever change occurs that quickly, there will be people who were able to "get in" and are largely satisfied, and there will be people who find themselves shut out.

My wife and I found ourselves in the latter category. After living in a one-bedroom Logan Circle apartment for 5 years, we determined that, in addition to needing to provide my wife with a saner commute to her Montgomery County employer, we had tired of running into each other and simply needed more space.

We would have preferred to remain in Logan had we been able to, but aside from a handful of two-bedroom apartments and condos that were approximately the size of (or smaller than) our one-bedroom home, we found ourselves largely priced out of the market. A $600-$700,000 "luxury" condo, with its associated condo fees and taxes, was simply beyond reach.

But my evolving feelings about my old neighborhood don't just come from my own experiences while living there. They're also shaped by what has happened there since we left. The types of businesses that have continued to move into the neighborhoodposh eateries and bars, furniture stores selling $6,000 sofas, boutiques selling $100 pairs of yoga pantsare good at attracting young, moneyed visitors to the neighborhood, but aren't necessarily the kinds of businesses that serve the daily needs of residents. How many times a week, for example, are you going to drop $80 or $100 on dinner? How many $15 cocktails will you consume? How many $2,000 chairs will you purchase?

Beyond the upscale boutiques and restaurants, and the neighborhood's overall shift in commercial character, lies an even greater issue: who is moving here for the long term? I certainly do not mean to suggest that there aren't many fine, committed residents in Logan Circle invested in the long-term betterment of their neighborhood. I know from firsthand experience that there are. But much of the new housing along and around 14th Street and featured in the Post story isn't being built with long-term inhabitance in mind.

Many people can only live in a studio or cramped one-bedroom apartment for so long. Eventually you couple off, have a child, or simply decide you need more room. Where to, then? With, as the Post notes, two bedroom condos in the neighborhood fetching close to $1 million, and houses garnering more, it's safe to assume that many will not remain.

How do you build a community with such a constant revolving door of residents? And what happens if you can't? They are questions Logan Circle residents will need to answer over the coming years and decades.

Trendy destination, yes; good neighborhood?

14th Street is a very popular destination, but as a neighborhood Logan Circle today can feel a bit hollow. Undoubtedly, there are many fun places to go, good drinks to be drunk, and great food to be eaten. It's lively, it's safer, and it's generating a lot of money for the city. "Huzzah!" to all of that.

But before we stamp it with a "wonderful" and seek to determine how we can emulate it in other DC neighborhoods, consider everything that it may not be: Affordable. Approachable. Sustainable. Economically diverse. And then ask yourself what the District would look like if every neighborhood developed along a similar path.

I recently took a stroll along 14th Street, past old haunts like Thaitanic, Great Wall, and Pulp, and past new additions like Be Too, Black Whiskey, Ghibellina, Pearl Dive, and everyone's new favorite French brasserie, Le Diplomate. I felt some nostalgia for the street I walked along so many times, and I marveled at the frantic energy and the rapid pace of change that brought it to this point.

And then I studied the people dining outside at 14th Street's many sidewalk cafes, and I wondered how many of them live in the neighborhood? How many could? How many would make it their home for 10, 20, 30 years? And how many simply view it as a playground of sorts, good for a night out or a stroll, but otherwise not a place they canor care tosettle in?

Change is inevitable, and there are many things to enjoy about the "new" 14th Street. It's a great destination, and can be a fine place to live. But I'm not sure that everything's wonderful.

A version of this article was posted at North FlintVille.

Ben Harris lives in Rockville, where he writes the North Bethesda-focused blog NorthFlintVille. Prior to moving to Montgomery County in 2011, he lived for 5 years in DC's Logan Circle neighborhood, where he served on the ANC 2F Community Development Committee and Arts Overlay Review Committee. From 2007 to 2011, he and his wife maintained the Logan Circle and Shaw-focused blog 14th&You. 

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"Many people can only live in a studio or cramped one-bedroom apartment for so long. Eventually you couple off, have a child, or simply decide you need more room. Where to, then?"

Except the reverse is just as true. Many would like nothing less than a child and will never need an extra room. Others, do have children, and once theyre gone, want to downsize to something more manageable, that requires less cleaning.

So for those who eventually move away - they will be replaced by many who are eager to ditch their larger and cheaper homes for something more conveniently located.

And who cares if the community is a revolving door. If there are 1,000 people in the building next door, even if theyre all there for a decade, when will you ever know any of them?

by JJJJJJ on Jul 23, 2013 11:48 am • linkreport

How many could? How many would make it their home for 10, 20, 30 years? And how many simply view it as a playground of sorts, good for a night out or a stroll, but otherwise not a place they can—or care to—settle in?

More than I think you're implying. Of course there are many constraints to living/working in Logan circle as you attest and price usually is what it comes down to in deciding what goes where.

The best way to have a diversity of living/retail options is to allow for many options to exist. That way you can welcome the new wine bar while holding onto your favorite dive. Or when enough 1 BRs are built, people can either build places with larger units or convert existing ones. This will bring more people into the neighborhood and indeed make it "wonderful" for a great deal of people.

Similarly, some would find Great Falls "wonderful" but others might not.

by drumz on Jul 23, 2013 11:52 am • linkreport

"But before we stamp it with a "wonderful" and seek to determine how we can emulate it in other DC neighborhoods,"

unless there are a lot more people who can afford those prices/rents than I imagine, this exact thing won't be emulated.

But even if there were - what policy levers do you suggest would stop it? Preventing new development won't stop prices from going up (or maybe Georgetown would be affordable?) Do you suggest rent/price control across the board? Or trying to keep crime up in order to keep an area from being too desirable?

DC is the heart of a metro area of over 5 million people. not having upscale dense areas, and it least a few of those areas being VERY upscale, is itself an artificial situation.

You can try to convince all those folks to move back to the suburbs (I'm not sure how). You can try to get the govt to move several departments and all their contractors to Cleveland. Or you can try to increase supply to absorb the growth - there have been many different suggestions on GGW on how to do so.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 11:57 am • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Dno on Jul 23, 2013 11:58 am • linkreport

Nice things in short supply become expensive, and that's no different than 14th street today. The same thing happened in Georgetown, Adams-Morgan etc. Cities change over time and inevitably someone's old hood is lost for another's new hood, regardless of class and race.

The changes have been extreme, but one has to remember that right now 14th street is in it's sugar high phase. At some point, it will mature and deepen its demographics, but for now, it attracts an inordinate amount of the young and moneyed set. That will change over time and studio apartments will be coupled into larger units while a new hot spot will suck up the new load of young'uns with money to burn.

"And then ask yourself what the District would look like if every neighborhood developed along a similar path." FIrst of all, not every neighborhood has the ingredients and timing that made this change so extraordinary, and if they do, they won't all happen at once. If Logan circle feels a bit hallow, then there are other neighborhoods to spend an evening in. I'll take hallow with a healthy dose of "many fun places to go, good drinks to be drunk and great food to be eaten. It's lively, it's safer".

Logan Circle is only living up to it's potential. Why did money flee these neighborhoods in the first place? We all know the reasons, but why is it flocking back? We all know those reasons as well. Wether it's wonderful or not is up to each person, but it's certainly natural.

by Thayer-D on Jul 23, 2013 12:05 pm • linkreport

Strange piece. I certainly don't want DC to become homogenous and worry about losing our Caribbean Carnival, Go-Go shows, carryouts etc...

But, all the affordable/family debate in there is way out there. It absolutely is possible to raise a child in a one bedroom. Especially with so many amenities nearby, and the ability to spend more time with family/reduced stress/reduced costs from not having a car etc. Nobody knocked down the rowhouses in the neighborhood either, and if I just dropped 1.5 on a house I imagine moving would not be my first thought.

BTW its a little weird to hear the author attack others for being transient when he only lived in the neighborhood for five years and then moved when it suited him. Not a personal attack, but certainly some major logical fallacies there.

by h st ll on Jul 23, 2013 12:06 pm • linkreport

Walker, I'm not really trying to make policy prescriptions for what to do about the housing situation in Logan. I pretty much take an "it is what it is" view, because realistically I recognize that the city has limited levers to pull--and in some cases, I'm not sure they should be pulled at all.

I'm simply wary of bestowing too many plaudits on it as a positive example of neighborhood growth and transition. I don't portend to be an expert on the effects of neighborhood transformation and gentrification, but I'm skeptical when I see people exclaiming how fantastic 14th Street's transformation has been. It's worked out well for some, and not so well for others.

by Ben on Jul 23, 2013 12:06 pm • linkreport

@h st ll

My mother and I lived in a 1-bedroom apartment when I was growing up in Silver Spring, and I had a lot of friends in elementary school who did the same. But I'll never forget getting my own room and being able to shut the door. People do it, but in an area as affluent as this (and with so many other housing options, even if they aren't in the core of DC) I'm not sure if people would willingly choose to do it.

by dan reed! on Jul 23, 2013 12:11 pm • linkreport

A straightforward means of moderating housing prices is increasing the supply of housing, but, in DC, there's a perverse hostility to doing that. The other way I can think to even out the cost of living over the income scale is to add new, higher brackets to the income tax. (Switching from a property to a land tax probably wouldn't hurt either)

by Steve S. on Jul 23, 2013 12:12 pm • linkreport

"Oy vey, this article is dripping with confusion, nostalgia, and regret for not having invested in the neighborhood."

I'm not particularly regretful about not having bought into the neighborhood earlier--what it has become is a bit too high-end for my personal tastes, and regardless I would have been house poor had I done so. But do I regret the fact that the city overall--and not just Logan--is becoming so increasingly unaffordable to so many. I know many who did buy in DC 5-10 eyars ago who understand that they couldn't buy into their neighborhoods today, and I do think that's unfortunate. At the same time, I don't necessarily think that there's much that can be done, it is cyclic in nature, after all. As I said above: it is what it is.

by Ben on Jul 23, 2013 12:13 pm • linkreport

I think the question of sustainability has to be put another way. The neighborhood has changed, but it might be sustainable as an expensive upmarket locale with some people coming in at night for entertainment. There are numerous examples of such a neighborhood that have existed for a long time.

And as to it being possible to live there for 30+ years; most people dont live in one place for 30+ years, especially in a city. Your families needs change.

You start single and young, want a place near work/entertainment with as little upkeep as possible.

Then you move in and form a couple wanting something a little bigger with perhaps a little more upkeep but now perhaps nearer to transit as there are two people to commute.

When one has children, more room is needed, further distance from entertainment, closer to schools and parks. At this point a family is able to sustain the maximum amount of upkeep.

Your kids move out and now you want to downsize, reduce upkeep, and reduce cost. Closeness to entertainment or schools no longer really matters much.

Now in smaller towns there might be neighborhoods that can fill multiple phases in life for multiple income levels. One of the nice things about a city is that it allows you live in a neighborhood that is more focused on providing for your needs.

If you want a place that you can live your whole life, you need to live a life that doesn't change.

by Richard B on Jul 23, 2013 12:13 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity the idea that the federal government out to vacate (or partially vacate) its capital to remedy a problem (IE the lack of housing)created by greedy District residents is amusing.

by Steve S. on Jul 23, 2013 12:15 pm • linkreport

Great piece. Logan and 14th have become a fiction of a community, barely a step up from the Town Centers you find in the suburbs. It's essentially Treasure Island for wealthy white DINKs, a place where all of your cultural proclivities can be indulged. It's a neighborhood as boring and monotonous as its residents. I swear to god I would prefer a crack dealer on the corner of 14th and V to another artisinal whiskey bar with reclaimed wood stools or whatever.

I don't know what the solution is, but it's the inevitable result of deliberate political choices that have removed one group from the area and replaced them with another.

by Corey on Jul 23, 2013 12:17 pm • linkreport

What is occurring along 14th Street now, one could scarcely even call "gentrification" any more.

"Gentrification" is defined as two or more households that make more than me moving into my neighborhood.

by oboe on Jul 23, 2013 12:21 pm • linkreport

@dan reed - agreed 100%. Its about trade-offs, as always. If one wants to stay in an expensive neighborhood, maybe your child doesn't get their own room (of course you can always do a partion...). Or you move to a less convenient neighborhood but you have more space. Or try to go out and find a better paying job/reduce expenses otherwise (get rid of car etc). No different than the trade-offs made by everyone else in the metro area.

by h st ll on Jul 23, 2013 12:23 pm • linkreport

I understand that the aim of this piece is to bemoan the loss of affordable housing and diversity in the neighborhood -- a valid point. But some of these arguments just don't hold water. There will be constant turnover of residents just because rents are expensive? What about pricey areas of the city like the Palisades that are established neighborhoods?

I also, like @AWalkerInTheCity, take issue with the piece for raising problems without suggesting any solutions -- or even places to start. This site has a reputation for thoughtful, constructive posts that point toward making our region "greater." I hoped for more from this piece.

by Gavin on Jul 23, 2013 12:35 pm • linkreport

"what it has become is a bit too high-end for my personal tastes, and regardless I would have been house poor had I done so. But do I regret the fact that the city overall--and not just Logan--is becoming so increasingly unaffordable to so many."

It's a bit too high end for my personal tastes too. Come to think of it, Columbia Heights is just a bit too low end too.

Let's bemoan any change that does not cater precisely to our tastes. As for the unaffordability, I hear ya, many parts of the city were unaffordable to me 5-10 years ago when your acquaintances bought in. I also found that "unfortunate", but not for the city.

by Dno on Jul 23, 2013 12:37 pm • linkreport

Well-written, thoughtful piece. While a city can tolerate -- even celebrate -- one wildly upscale neighborhood or two -- A 5th Avenue or Park Avenue -- it would be awful to see the Manhattanization of DC. Why so? If you read this blog, you probably favor urban environments and certainly abhor the traffic jams of the suburbs. Well, if the city becomes unaffordable for anyone serious about saving and raising a family, then you just drive those folks to the suburbs...which will continue to sprawl to create the space for the exodus from the city. It would just continue the partitioning of America, segregating the wealthy from the rest of us to a degree never seen before.

Policy levers to prevent this? I'm not expert, but I gotta believe there are thongs a city could do to encourage middle-class and family-friendly development.

by Fischy (Ed F.) on Jul 23, 2013 12:45 pm • linkreport

Sorry -- There are "things" a city could do -- not thongs. Heaven forbid, not thongs. The worst thing that could happen to DC isn't Manhattanization. Becoming annther Miami would be worse -- a vacation playground for wealthy foreigners, snapping up "bargain" condos, making for a city that isn't just full of transients, but part-time residents.

by Fischy (Ed F.) on Jul 23, 2013 12:50 pm • linkreport

a place where all of your cultural proclivities can be indulged. It's a neighborhood as boring and monotonous as its residents.

Doesn't that contradict itself?

I swear to god I would prefer a crack dealer on the corner of 14th and V to another artisinal whiskey bar with reclaimed wood stools or whatever.

Oh, I get it. Look there's no accounting for taste but if today's view of Logan Circle is a fiction then it must be acknowledged that a nostalgic, romanticized view of "the gritty old days" is as much of a fiction. Besides, if crack really is your thing, there are still plenty of neighborhoods to go get it.

by drumz on Jul 23, 2013 12:58 pm • linkreport

"I'm simply wary of bestowing too many plaudits on it as a positive example of neighborhood growth and transition. I don't portend to be an expert on the effects of neighborhood transformation and gentrification, but I'm skeptical when I see people exclaiming how fantastic 14th Street's transformation has been. It's worked out well for some, and not so well for others."

so the point of the piece is to take issue with Ms Tregoning for the use of the word "wonderful"? Geez. She's a planner, not a poet. Its her job to meet the city's goals - and that 14th street has 900k condos, rather than say 700k condos (at the same level of development) means more tax revenues, that benefit people who will never set foot on 14th street - at the expense of a few folks who might have been able to afford the 700k condos, but not the 900k condos (and offsetting that are the wealthy folks who get a neighborhood they like, and the landowners - in the case of some of the houses, modest folks who've sold out a good capital gain) So, er, I don't think it would have made sense for her to say that this leaves her feeling mixed. She could have said something long and bureaucratic as dno suggests, I suppose.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 1:00 pm • linkreport

ed

if you move the rich folks out and move less affluent folks in, how does that mean fewer folks in the suburbs? Do we assume that the rich folks would pick some other urban area, but the middle class folks would come from the suburbs? cause otherwise the arithmetic doesnt work out.

The only way to get more folks into the city, is to build more housing in the city (or I suppose, to convince more people to squeeze into smaller spaces)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 1:04 pm • linkreport

"one wildly upscale neighborhood or two -- A 5th Avenue or Park Avenue -- it would be awful to see the Manhattanization of DC."

We are not even close to that. heck, we've got a long way to go to get to the northbrooklynization of DC (outside of a few neighborhoods)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 1:05 pm • linkreport

this really feels like

http://www.theonion.com/articles/report-nations-gentrified-neighborhoods-threatened,2419/

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 1:06 pm • linkreport

Also the solutions for "mahattanization" is the same as the solution for the actual Manhattan's affordability problem. create more housing supply/make it easier to at least get to the city.

We can do it both here and in NYC (and richmond, and arlington, and Des Moines, etc).

by drumz on Jul 23, 2013 1:09 pm • linkreport

"But do I regret the fact that the city overall--and not just Logan--is becoming so increasingly unaffordable to so many"

but mostly thats because neighborhoods are reaching the point 14th street was at 2 or 3 years ago. Whether one anomalous neighborhood (and yes, that matters) goes beyond that, really doesn't matter all that much.

between a city with 20 areas with 700k condos, or one with 19 areas with 700k condos and one with 900k condos, isnt much difference to the affordability issue. Unless you wanted (and could afford) a 700k condo in just that one neighborhood.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 1:09 pm • linkreport

If you want to have a sustainable life in a neighborhood you have to buy into said neighborhood. If you are renting you are conceding that if rents rise, you might get pushed out.
If you buy, you might eventually get pushed out too, but other expenses but at least you will have a size-able chunk of profit to offset the move.

by Richard B on Jul 23, 2013 1:14 pm • linkreport

I love Logan, and I too wish I'd had resources 3-4 years ago to settle nearby (not to mention the pre-knowledge that I'd still be working in the DC area!). Nowadays I could probably afford to pay what Logan Circle cost in 2009.

Still, that doesn't bother me so much. What I like best about the evolution of 14th street is how easily walkable and lively it's become. I live about a mile away now and always enjoy a walk out to Churchkey or Black Cat. 14th has basically become an interesting hybrid of U Street to the north and Dupont to the West. I guess I've just accepted it as my favorite hangout district.

(Also, even though Le Diplomate has somehow become the foremost symbol of the madness of 14th, it's actually really good. Just make a reservation a few weeks in advance instead of putting up with the two-hour wait.)

by worthing on Jul 23, 2013 1:14 pm • linkreport

I kind of get it, but Logan isn't the only neighborhood in DC. It's not even 5% of DC. Deciding you "need" more room (somewhat of a preference more than a need no?) does not equate being kicked out of the city. I couldn't afford to live in Logan but it only takes me about 20 minutes to take a bus down to 14th st. when I want to hang out. Central neighborhoods in cities have never been about only catering to local residents. If anything I think it's nice that you don't have to live in Logan or U St to enjoy 14th St considering most of the city is <30 minutes away by transit/bike/walking etc. Hell even where I live I'm paying about 50% of my take home pay in rent, but that was a choice I made because I didn't want to share an apartment.

Obviously displacement is something that is a problem in this city, but I think that is best handled by housing policy rather than trying to avoid developments like 14th St from happening. It's always going to be a trade off between affordability/travel time/amenities and I think that's really true anywhere the free market is dominant.

by Alan B. on Jul 23, 2013 1:18 pm • linkreport

I've grown tired of the gentrification complaints. I'm not saying that's exactly what this is but in general I'm not sympathetic. The reasons have to do with my belief in freedom of movement, the inevitability of supply and demand, my love of cities and desire to see them flourish end enjoy investment, the trickiness of defining "affordable", and the fact that few people are actually "displaced" bc many sell for big profits and a lot of new residents live in infill developments. The emotional piece of it is also tied to race, not economics. It's screwed up.

The goal of this blog seems to be to create more and more walkable neighborhoods with transit access. It's obviously highly in demand. As more neighborhoods are transformed, especially in the suburbs, you should see options that are affordable to everyone.

by LamondNick on Jul 23, 2013 1:26 pm • linkreport

"so the point of the piece is to take issue with Ms Tregoning for the use of the word "wonderful"?"

No, hers was simply a convenient comment to use because it was in the Post piece. But hers is a sentiment shared by many.

by Ben on Jul 23, 2013 1:38 pm • linkreport

the 14th ST corrider is still very transitional. For all the talk about the overpriced apartments, you can go about 4 or 5 blocks east and still find apartments that are much more reasonable. 14th ST corrider is still cheap compared to Dupont or Georgetown.

There was nothing in the article talking about the real issues and problems of the 14th ST corrider and that is a variety of retail. I know that the rents are going up so quickly that a lot of store can not afford to be there, but we need to do something to attract them, even if its off the main 14th st area. 11th ST is still a lot cheaper and has room for cheaper retail.

I've been in the 14th area for over 5 years, DC resident for more than 20 including time in Shaw back in the mid 80's and very happy with the changes.

by Mike on Jul 23, 2013 1:38 pm • linkreport

"If you want to have a sustainable life in a neighborhood you have to buy into said neighborhood."

People buy where they can afford to buy. I've never been a fan of the "so-and-so is simply bitter about the fact that they didn't buy into the neighborhood" whenever discussions related to housing and neighborhood affordability arise. it presumes that everyone is in a position to buy, and that not buying is simply a desire to continue with a more flexible housing arrangement. That isn't always the case.

by Ben on Jul 23, 2013 1:41 pm • linkreport

"As more neighborhoods are transformed, especially in the suburbs, you should see options that are affordable to everyone."

I certainly hope so. The neighborhood we moved to--North Bethesda/Rockville/White Flint/Whatever certainly seems to be moving in that direction.

by Ben on Jul 23, 2013 1:43 pm • linkreport

But I do have to say the piece struck a chord in that it really does show where the "pent up" demand for walkable urban places is. Lots of people want to live in DC (perhaps more so downtown adjacent than the edges) that can't find reasonable optiosn to them. I think it makes a strong case for making places like Tysons and Silver Spring etc more and more walkable.

by Alan B. on Jul 23, 2013 1:44 pm • linkreport

"Also, even though Le Diplomate has somehow become the foremost symbol of the madness of 14th, it's actually really good."

I agree. The Mrs. and I had dinner there a month or so ago and were suitably impressed. They key to scoring a table there, without a reservation, is apaprently to go on a night when large thunderstorms are predicted, ask for an outdoor table, and cross your fingers. I worked for us.

by Ben on Jul 23, 2013 1:45 pm • linkreport

"No, hers was simply a convenient comment to use because it was in the Post piece. But hers is a sentiment shared by many."

so its that people walk through an area thats lively and vibrant, and where there are lots of construction cranes, and smile? I'm not getting it. They shouldn't enjoy what they see because someone was priced out. look, some folks say that every neighborhood is affordable for someone. I would say, every neighborhood (except for the poorest) is unaffordable for someone. When I walk around Gtown or DuPont am I supposed to bemoan the prices? Or just enjoy the city life. sure city changes have winners and losers - and I am all for policies to help those who lose (in particular I support affordable housing progams) but thats part of reality.

by MStreetDenizen on Jul 23, 2013 1:54 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Ben on Jul 23, 2013 2:00 pm • linkreport

The answer to the expensive real estate is to increase supply! But, every time a developer tries to develop a parcel, there is a battle royale with the local ANC, zoning commission, etc. Yes, there should be a mechanism for locals to provide input into the development process, but I have seen projects delayed for years all because of battles with locals. Then, we wonder why housing is so expensive in DC. Housing will likely always be expensive in a downtown area, but putting such a damper on efforts to increase supply sends prices sky high.

by CLS on Jul 23, 2013 2:07 pm • linkreport

Like most things, the neighborhood has some wonderful aspects and some not-very wonderful aspects.

It's true that the transition has been surprisingly quick. What was once a decrepit, hollowed-out dry cleaners seeping chemicals into the water table is now a gaudy, pricey Disney version of a French cafe that happens to serve rather good food.

That can be a startling transition that some people are not ready to embrace across the city.

However, it's really tough to find a city that has lots of transit connections, corner stores, bars, shops and restaurants (that people actually want to go to), and is relatively safe, at a price that everyone can afford.

That's just now how our economy works. Not everyone can afford to live in the most desirable areas of town.

And in DC that is especially true because the "middle class" is more affluent than in almost any other city. That means that market will charge what those people can bear to pay.

But we can start by making non-central neighborhoods more desirable places to live so that people who want to live in a desirable area aren't forced to locate in a 2-square mile slice of Ward 1 & 2.

But even if we succeed in that, gentrification is all but guaranteed and some people will be pushed out. I'm not so sure that it can be avoided, or that most people even want to avoid it.

For the middle class to afford to live here will require a profound shift in the way our society treats people, goods, services and infrastructure. And that is probably something many people are not willing to embrace at this time.

by Scoot on Jul 23, 2013 2:25 pm • linkreport

Nice writing, moody piece, thoughtful points.

-- Look at Manhattan. The entire island is almost completely unaffordable. DC is a low rent paradise by comparison. If condos on 14th on too pricey, you can find 1-BDR condos for far less and without high HOA fees, in Adams Morgan, Mount Pleasant, Columbia Heights, Petworth, etc., and be no more than 10-15 minute circulator or bike ride away from 14th.

-- I just had lunch at Subway in Adams Morgan. There are restaurants in this town that charge $20+ for a garden salad. I do not go to them.

-- What is community? It's fluid, it changes, and is infused by new people who contribute for some years and then leave. But many will stay put and may even become neighborhood curmudgeons (we have quite a few in my Adams Morgan neighborhood) and grouse about any change.

-- Consider U Street. There's push back on the liquor licenses and some interest in a moratorium. (I'm not taking a pro/con side). But I suspect that many of those involved are relatively new residents, 10 years or less, and very much part of a community.

by kob on Jul 23, 2013 2:25 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by John on Jul 23, 2013 2:26 pm • linkreport

So what is the magnetic draw of this neighborhood? I think I went there once to go to a wine bar a few years ago, but otherwise I'm not often in that neck of the woods. Are there some really great restaurants?

by Chris S. on Jul 23, 2013 2:32 pm • linkreport

I'm skeptical when I see people exclaiming how fantastic 14th Street's transformation has been. It's worked out well for some, and not so well for others.

That statement is true for virtually any transformation, whether it takes place in an area of a city or in an organization. For example the computerization or automation of work makes things more efficient but also puts some people out of work. If the author's point is to say that there exist people who are negatively impacted by the change, it's hard to argue with that. That will always be the case with any change.

I swear to god I would prefer a crack dealer on the corner of 14th and V to another artisinal whiskey bar with reclaimed wood stools or whatever.

Undoubtedly, the changes on 14th St have not worked out well for the crack dealers (or prostitutes) and their fans.

by Falls Church on Jul 23, 2013 2:32 pm • linkreport

It's interesting to me that several comemnters have susggested that the answer to expensive real estate is to increase supply - since 14th St represents an enormous increase in supply over the last 10-15 years, and we see where affordability has gone.

Otherwise, I understand where Ben is coming from. I just got there a little sooner, when Bang & Olufson opened at 14th & Q in 2009, in the midst of the Great Recession. Who, I wondered was buying their products? That question was answered by the buildings rising all around, and I knew that 14th was destined to be 'fancied up' well beyond my participation.

But I also remember that in high school in the late 70's "14th & U" was short-hand for everything bad in this city (as in "I saw your Momma at 14th & U last night.")so for all the shortcomings that Ben points out, I could never be nostalgic for that past. And funny enough, I live in Dupont, because it's cheaper, at least in my rent-controlled apartment (which hopefully will never go condo.) And at least I can look at the fancy new 14th St while standing on the 50 buses.

by 17th Street on Jul 23, 2013 2:35 pm • linkreport

and the fact that few people are actually "displaced" bc many sell for big profits and a lot of new residents live in infill developments.

And that when poor people move out of ungentrified neighborhoods because of crime, lack of job opportunities, etc... we don't call that "displacement" although that's what it is. And there's quite a bit of evidence that *more* poor residents are displaced because of those environmental factors than are displaced due to wealthier people moving in--if you measure the stability of existing populations rather than cherry-picking anecdotes.

Bottom line is, cities need dining/theater/nightlife districts. Georgetown has always been one of those. 14th street, U street, and H street have historically met those needs. What you're seeing here is those traditional commercial corridors returning to their natural state.

While of course it would be a shame if every neighborhood in DC became like 14th street, that's not going to happen any more than every neighborhood in NYC becoming Park Ave, or every street in Chicago becoming the Magnificent Mile. But having such neighborhoods distributed across the city (and not just concentrated in the furthest NW corner) is absolutely critical to having a livable city.

As someone put it up-thread, there are many, many neighborhoods in DC right now that have some of the qualities of 14th street of 10 years ago. And people who got priced out of Logan Circle 15-20 years ago are perfectly entitled (and *are* in fact) moving to those neighborhoods, buying houses, and helping shaping their communities.

by oboe on Jul 23, 2013 2:35 pm • linkreport

That statement is true for virtually any transformation, whether it takes place in an area of a city or in an organization. For example the computerization or automation of work makes things more efficient but also puts some people out of work. If the author's point is to say that there exist people who are negatively impacted by the change, it's hard to argue with that. That will always be the case with any change.

It's easy to treat the problem so trivially if you're not the one negatively "impacted" by the change.

by Corey on Jul 23, 2013 2:39 pm • linkreport

since 14th St represents an enormous increase in supply over the last 10-15 years, and we see where affordability has gone.

Although some people get annoyed when I point this out. I feel like its my duty all the same.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceteris_paribus

Also we've seen rents go down citywide in some segments.

http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/rents_drop_in_dc_first_time_since_2009/7285

by drumz on Jul 23, 2013 2:40 pm • linkreport

I know many who did buy in DC 5-10 years ago who understand that they couldn't buy into their neighborhoods today, and I do think that's unfortunate.

It's "unfortunate" that neighborhoods are getting safer and more desirable? We have a different understanding of the definition of unfortunate.

The overarching problem with this piece it that it tries to convert a personal sentiment - "I don't like the kind of neighborhood that 14th Street has become" - into an objective judgment - "the neighborhood 14th Street has become is bad - or at least, not wonderful."

It's a perfectly valid personal sentiment that falls apart during the attempted conversion to policy argument, in large part because it reeks of sour grapes.

"We decided to move to lessen my wife's commute, but we couldn't have stayed if we'd wanted to. Oh, we could have easily afforded our current place, but not a significant upgrade. It's just outrageous that the renter of a 1 BR apartment cannot afford to purchase a 2 BR condo in the same neighborhood! (There must be a systemic flaw I can blame for this injustice.) And anyway, I wouldn't have wanted to stay, because it's too hoity-toity. Hmmpf."

And as for I swear to god I would prefer a crack dealer on the corner of 14th and V to another artisinal whiskey bar with reclaimed wood stools or whatever.:

I'm all for hyperbole, but this is complete BS.

by dcd on Jul 23, 2013 2:42 pm • linkreport

Wow the comments are really piling on here, huh? [Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

I'm seeing snark beyond the usual sniping, and it's very discouraging.

"I've been in the 14th area for over 5 years, DC resident for more than 20 including time in Shaw back in the mid 80's and very happy with the changes."

Of course you are, that's the problem - we've created a situation where the whole District is hurtling towards unaffordability for anyone under 40 who isn't subsidized by a trust fund. For pete's sake, I'm from Great Falls, and I'm priced out, too. I live on Clifton, and I see scads of 20 and 30-somethings that are renting and buying these places, and I have no clue how it's possible, other than huge cash transfers from their parents.

The folks who really seem happy about the changes are the ones who got in before DC exploded, and now there's a sense of smug self-righteousness that's very much against what GGW is supposedly supposed to stand for. How are we building communities when the only folks that can afford to live here are either in Section 8 housing, heavily subsidized by their parents, or rich?

I mean, go ahead and label the piece, "another anti-gentrification whine with no solutions offered," but I see no solutions from y'all, either, except for, "THEM'S THE BREAKS, MOVE TO THE SUBURBS!"

Enjoy your low-slung Manhattan; that giant sucking sound you hear is all the non-rich young people getting priced out.

by MJB on Jul 23, 2013 2:43 pm • linkreport

@Chris S. - So what is the magnetic draw of this neighborhood? I think I went there once to go to a wine bar a few years ago, but otherwise I'm not often in that neck of the woods. Are there some really great restaurants?

Some very good restaurants (though as a whole I prefer H St NE for "newish food enclaves"), a few solid arts anchors in Studio Theater/Black Cat, some clubs, the best beer bar for a few hundred miles in any direction (even you, Atlantic Ocean!). And a really big Popeye's. I think it's most helped by doing a lot of things not-the-best-but-well and being one of the most centrally-located neighborhoods in DC. The geographic location was always great, but now there are things at that location, too.

by worthing on Jul 23, 2013 2:43 pm • linkreport

Seriously, you guys, the problem is the whole city is hurtling towards being too expensive for anybody who isn't rich, even by DC standards. Yes, even Anacostia (give it a decade).

by MJB on Jul 23, 2013 2:46 pm • linkreport

but I see no solutions from y'all, either

Except you know, all the articles posted everyday on doing specific things to increase the supply of housing (ADU's, removal of parking minimums, support of development at open lots, etc.).

by drumz on Jul 23, 2013 2:49 pm • linkreport

I don't disagree, MJB, but I think that's why so many of us feel strongly about expanding transit and increasing density. The more places to put people, the less will get priced out. I think most (certainly not all) here are congnizant of the creeping wall of condos, but assuming we can forgo living in Ward 2 there are still affordable places in the metro core. They will probably always require tradeoffs like one or no cars, smaller apartments, less proximity to Metro stations etc.

by Alan B. on Jul 23, 2013 2:51 pm • linkreport

I think it's most helped by doing a lot of things not-the-best-but-well and being one of the most centrally-located neighborhoods in DC. The geographic location was always great, but now there are things at that location, too.>i>

This is a key - there simply aren't that many neighborhoods that are a really short walk to the downtown business district. It should come as no surprise that such an area will become high-priced in a hurry. It's the same reason tiny (by today's standards) single-family homes in North Arlington are outrageously expensive - it makes other aspects of life much, much easier, and people are willing to pay for convenience. Not exactly man-bites-dog news.

by dcd on Jul 23, 2013 2:53 pm • linkreport

It's easy to treat the problem so trivially

You could argue as being trivial or just disspassionate analysis. Either way, it's just describing the issue, now what's the solution?

Well the solution depends on the goal. People say the goal is to keep the neighborhood like it is. Fine goal, but that's obviously already changing. Do people mean the built form of the neighborhood? Then that means accepting that as demand for the hood goes up so will the price. But you want to keep it affordable you say. Well that may mean changing the way the neighborhood looks somewhat (by adding more housing, more places to do business etc.). Those are the choices we have. There are things we can do here and there, especially to mitigate negative impacts but it's not trivializing to recognize that the neighborhood isn't static and never was.

by drumz on Jul 23, 2013 2:53 pm • linkreport

@drumz

"Except you know, all the articles posted everyday on doing specific things to increase the supply of housing (ADU's, removal of parking minimums, support of development at open lots, etc.)."

Oh OK, so all we've got to do to stop DC from becoming a rich person's playground is do all the stuff GGW posts about, and it'll magically just work itself out, right?

You're looking at it like critics of Keynesian economics:

"All we have to do is implement a plan over the next 50 years, and we'll have a vibrant, mixed-use and mixed-income city!" Yeah, and we'll all be dead.

Drumz, [deleted for violating the comment policy.] Do you want to have to always be running from the ultra-gentrification wave? Unless you're one of the rarefied few, you'll be constantly having to move farther and farther out too, at this rate.

by MJB on Jul 23, 2013 2:54 pm • linkreport

"Except you know, all the articles posted everyday on doing specific things to increase the supply of housing (ADU's, removal of parking minimums, support of development at open lots, etc.)."

Plus relaxing the height limit, upzoning selected parcels, increasing the number of units in certain rowhouses (thats Tom C's favorite) making historical review more rational.

and beyond housing, making more areas reasonable options by improving transit and bikebality/walkability - especially in the suburbs. And increasing options in DC by addressing education.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 2:55 pm • linkreport

MJB

In the case of keynsianism, there is a policy alternative (or set of alternatives) to the anti-keynsians.

What set of policies do you propose as an alternative to those supported by GGW?

and if you have good ideas, why would it be so surprising that GGW has already supported them?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 2:57 pm • linkreport

I just looked on craigslist and there are about 100 2 -bedrooms advertised in the district under $1800 a month (and not all in Ward 7 and 8). Yeah they're not in Logan, but Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, Shaw, Capitol Hill, Brookland, Tenley etc.

by Alan B. on Jul 23, 2013 2:59 pm • linkreport

"Some very good restaurants (though as a whole I prefer H St NE for "newish food enclaves"), a few solid arts anchors in Studio Theater/Black Cat, some clubs, the best beer bar for a few hundred miles in any direction (even you, Atlantic Ocean!). And a really big Popeye's. I think it's most helped by doing a lot of things not-the-best-but-well and being one of the most centrally-located neighborhoods in DC. The geographic location was always great, but now there are things at that location, too."

Thanks worthing, maybe I'll check it out again to see what's new. Although for those of us who aren't so centrally located, it's kind of a long haul to get there.

by Chris S. on Jul 23, 2013 2:59 pm • linkreport

Do you want to have to always be running from the ultra-gentrification wave? Unless you're one of the rarefied few, you'll be constantly having to move farther and farther out too, at this rate.

Why is that? If you buy in a neighborhood and property values quadruple in 10 years, you're somehow forced to move?

by dcd on Jul 23, 2013 3:00 pm • linkreport

MJB,

In general, yes. I think doing those things will help mitigate the "rich person's playground". These things take time and there is not a single solution. I don't see how that position is naive. Moreover, this all effects me as well. My rent is going up and I may need to move (for multiple reasons but price is a big one).

The population is growing. There are a few different philosophies on how to accomodate that growth. All of them more or less include building stuff. The $64K question is where. I (and others) think that the best places to do that are in established urban areas because that's the best think traffic/environment wise.

People complain about affordable housing but I don't see how you come up with any realistic plan to make housing more affordable that doesn't somehow include building more housing.

by drumz on Jul 23, 2013 3:01 pm • linkreport

It's interesting to me that several commentors have suggested that the answer to expensive real estate is to increase supply - since 14th St represents an enormous increase in supply over the last 10-15 years, and we see where affordability has gone.

Induced demand for housing? Nah, it just can't be! This violates everything we know about supply-and-demand.

Lately this neighborhood is getting too crowded, so nobody goes there anymore.

by goldfish on Jul 23, 2013 3:03 pm • linkreport

"Then that means accepting that as demand for the hood goes up so will the price. But you want to keep it affordable you say. Well that may mean changing the way the neighborhood looks somewhat (by adding more housing, more places to do business etc.). Those are the choices we have. There are things we can do here and there, especially to mitigate negative impacts but it's not trivializing to recognize that the neighborhood isn't static and never was."

There are three ways to keep central DC affordable and also keep the neighborhood the same form.

1. Massive application of rent control. Basically abolish price setting by the market. There will still be loads of people who want in and can't get in, but it will rationed by queue, or lottery, or some way other than price
2. Make the area less desirable by restoring the disamenities. More crack dealers. That may or may not include artisanal crack dealers.
3. Move several federal agencies to Cleveland. Whether the Fed govt has any motive is not the point - its that that WOULD lower demand.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 3:03 pm • linkreport

Chris, unless I'm mistaken you're red line adjacent? You can get off at Dupont and it's a ~6 block/10 minute walk to the heart of 14th St around R/Q

by Alan B. on Jul 23, 2013 3:04 pm • linkreport

"Induced demand for housing? Nah, it just can't be! This violates everything we know about supply-and-demand.

Lately this neighborhood is getting too crowded, so nobody goes there anymore."

No, it gets too crowded, prices rise, and people start moving to other neighborhoods. Isnt that what happened to Ben?

Induced demand - the parallel to roads would be if we subsidized housing, and then were surprised that it filled up. Housing will certainly fill. No one is saying if you build more housing it will be empty, but that the price will go down. The same is true of roads - if Transburban were to build yet more lanes on I495, the equilibrium tolls would decline.

As for the gentrification creates its own demand subtext - where are these folks coming from? Are the folks who would otherwise live in the suburbs? otherwise not live in DC? if the former, then there must be somewhere in the suburbs thats growing more affordable. If the latter - well I doubt there are really more people moving to DC because 14th street got fancy, but I can see some folks disagreeing.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 3:07 pm • linkreport

AWITC,

Exactly, either you're going to have to pay with money or with time (via long wait lists or other means). The other two points I've always assumed were implicit arguments that people were making but knew they couldn't get away with seriously stating it.

by drumz on Jul 23, 2013 3:07 pm • linkreport

As for the gentrification creates its own demand subtext - where are these folks coming from? Are the folks who would otherwise live in the suburbs? otherwise not live in DC? if the former, then there must be somewhere in the suburbs thats growing more affordable.

In this area, you've still just got massive pop. growth regardless. That could overpower and relative shifts in demand.

If the latter - well I doubt there are really more people moving to DC because 14th street got fancy, but I can see some folks disagreeing.

I think I'd be a marginal case. In a reverse example, I'm more likely to move to somewhere in fairfax because fairfax is getting more of what I want. Same with DC, though I can quantify what I want rather than just "fancy" (which may be valid for certain people).

by drumz on Jul 23, 2013 3:11 pm • linkreport

@Walker

What set of policies do you propose as an alternative to those supported by GGW?

and if you have good ideas, why would it be so surprising that GGW has already supported them?

I'm not saying our ideas are wrong (I say our because I agree with almost everything the GGW community supports, I grew up along Route 7 so I've had my fill of the car culture), I'm saying that a very long-term plan isn't going to hold back the market from completely destroying what little "middle class" we have in this city and also making the city - not just 14th street - totally unaffordable for young people, as well.

The joke about Keynesian critics was that they herd all his ideas and said, "BUT IN 50 YEARS THE DEBT, BLAH BLAH BLAH" and his retort was, "Yes, but in 50 years we'll all be dead." In other words, while the solutions we discuss here and support in our civic engagement are great, and absolutely should be implemented, it's not going to matter if the whole city turns into PoPville in the meantime.

(Is that going to get deleted? The moderation has gotten so unpredictable. For the record, Drumz had stated his age before on here. Is ultrayuppie better than calling out PoPville?)

Also, remember that one does not have to have a solution to a problem in order to call a problem out. I have no solution for Syria, but I acknowledge there's a problematic situation there.

All I'm saying is this: the article was written on emotion, but it's hard to deny that this isn't "normal" gentrification, and it's not just 14th street where this is happening. I'm not trying to be mean, but from where I sit as a twentysomething working a humdrum job, I see the city I always wanted to be a part out getting priced out of my reach at a pace that's too fast for zoning updates and whatnot to help. Yeah, I don't have a magic bullet, but y'all need to put aside your own personal situations/biases and ask yourself if what's happening across the city is really good for the community and society as a whole.

Hell, I'd love for the whole city to turn into dive bars and pizza places, and all the yuppies and Capitol Hill folks move out, but I acknowledge that's bad for the community as a whole.

by MJB on Jul 23, 2013 3:12 pm • linkreport

It's "unfortunate" that neighborhoods are getting safer and more desirable?

The limits of wonky analysis of society are evident in comments like these. 14th St. is getting "safer and more desirable" FOR YOU.

But what's making it "safer and more desirable" for you? The presence of other people like you, by and large. And when those other people use their wildly disproportionate cultural and economic power to move out groups with comparatively less, you get a neighborhood that fits your sensibilities.

by Corey on Jul 23, 2013 3:13 pm • linkreport

Except you know, all the articles posted everyday on doing specific things to increase the supply of housing (ADU's, removal of parking minimums, support of development at open lots, etc.).

Plus relaxing the height limit, upzoning selected parcels, increasing the number of units in certain rowhouses (thats Tom C's favorite) making historical review more rational.

and beyond housing, making more areas reasonable options by improving transit and bikebality/walkability - especially in the suburbs. And increasing options in DC by addressing education.

In the short term that may increase affordability.

But in the long term most (if not all) that stuff actually increases the price of housing and inevitably leads to an exodus of people who can no longer afford to live there.

And it makes the city a place that can fit a higher density of more affluent people.

by Scoot on Jul 23, 2013 3:13 pm • linkreport

@dcd

"Why is that? If you buy in a neighborhood and property values quadruple in 10 years, you're somehow forced to move?"

People my age can't afford to buy anymore, and it's looking increasingly doubtful we'll ever be able to - this is the problem, too many of the commenters here are over 35 and are having trouble understanding how the situation is for young folks, as well as longtime residents. We're already priced out, and it seems permanent.

by MJB on Jul 23, 2013 3:14 pm • linkreport

No, it gets too crowded, prices rise, and people start moving to other neighborhoods. Isnt that what happened to Ben?

gets too crowded, prices rise, but people still come in and pay the prices, making it even more crowded, causing still more increases in prices.

Back in the early 90s you could get a nice appt there for $300-400/month. I know, cause I looked then. Now, $3000-4000 (10x)? Crazy!

Like to see you prove which came first, the people or the increases in price, and what induces what. It is momentum (2nd order) price increases.

by goldfish on Jul 23, 2013 3:15 pm • linkreport

The usual simplistic approach to market economics: building more housing hasn't reduced prices. Lifting rent control in NYC didn't have its hoped-for effects. Maybe if you built highrises all over Logan Prices would finally drop, but that's unlikely.

The neighborhood would be better with a wider range of eating establishments and with efforts to keep retail in the mix (unlike Adams Morgan). Another consideration is where development will reach critical mass and how that will effect the area. It looks like 11th Street is ripe for development, along with spillover from 8th & O and the slow "discovery" of 9th near the convention center. Those areas could weaken retail and restaurant demand on 14th.

by Rich on Jul 23, 2013 3:15 pm • linkreport

@ Alan B. "Chris, unless I'm mistaken you're red line adjacent? You can get off at Dupont and it's a ~6 block/10 minute walk to the heart of 14th St around R/Q"

Thanks Alan. Yeah, I'm usually coming from the Red Line. I guess that's not too far from Dupont. I think last time I tried to drive down 16th or 14th - wow, talk about a stoplight marathon.

by Chris S. on Jul 23, 2013 3:16 pm • linkreport

Yeah definitely not worth it to drive down 14th, 16th is a safer bet but finding parking anyway will be a nightmare.

by Alan B. on Jul 23, 2013 3:17 pm • linkreport

"I'm saying that a very long-term plan isn't going to hold back the market from completely destroying what little "middle class" we have in this city and also making the city - not just 14th street - totally unaffordable for young people, as well.

The joke about Keynesian critics was that they herd all his ideas and said, "BUT IN 50 YEARS THE DEBT, BLAH BLAH BLAH" and his retort was, "Yes, but in 50 years we'll all be dead." In other words, while the solutions we discuss here and support in our civic engagement are great, and absolutely should be implemented, it's not going to matter if the whole city turns into PoPville in the meantime."

well for one, I don't think its near to the whole city. I really think thats just incorrect. I am NOT doing to downplay the risks and disadvantages of moving to the rest of DC, as I think some do, but it is the case that there is plenty of DC that is far from being like this. Do I need to list the neighborhoods that are as yet untouched by gentrication? and of the ones in the early stages, its just not very likely that all will increase in prices like this.

secondly, I dont think its true it will take a generation to see some relief from the policies we are talking about. Heck, even without them there are some improvements coming based on the current path - as currently planned transit is implemented, as the pipeline catches up to demand. If we make a real push even more can happen - and not in THAT many years.

thirdly, we are ignoring the housing age issue. cities with affordable housing usually have it in large part because they have a lot of older housing. DC really doesnt have that much older high density housing because prior to 1940 it was basically a small town, and from 1968 or so not much was built in most areas. Some of the places where you can find relatively affordable housing are in parts of upper NW that used to be the only "good" areas in town - because of that, the now have older units. Eventually the new units on 14th street will age too.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 3:20 pm • linkreport

Maybe if you built highrises all over Logan Prices would finally drop, but that's unlikely.

Hey I know: let developers build apartments without parking! That will fix it.

by goldfish on Jul 23, 2013 3:21 pm • linkreport

It's easy to treat the problem so trivially if you're not the one negatively "impacted" by the change.

It's easy to overlook all the good that's come from the change if you happen to be someone who was negatively impacted.

The folks who really seem happy about the changes are the ones who got in before DC exploded,

The other folks who are happy about the changes are the thousands of people from across the DC metro region who patronize the establishments on 14th St.

in addition to needing to provide my wife with a saner commute to her Montgomery County employer, we had tired of running into each other and simply needed more space.

If more space is something one needs, I don't recommend living in what is literally the densest census tract in the city. Also, I commend you for moving in order to make your commute better. Hopefully, that hasn't stopped you from going to 14th ST to enjoy all it has to offer.

by Falls Church on Jul 23, 2013 3:22 pm • linkreport

it's not going to matter if the whole city turns into PoPville in the meantime

Yeah, the invocation of PoP is really appropriate here. If anyone wants any evidence for the racial and cultural conquest that's fundamentally at the heart of gentrification, take a look at the comments on any PoP post about crime or panhandlers or - most egregiously - the public housing at 14th and Columbia.

GGW is rarefied air. Yes, I think that the analysis and commenters here are way too quick to resort to "wonkism" in the explanation of what are fundamentally fights over power. But for the most part - flawed analysis and perspectives aside - the community here seems to genuinely want everyone to be a part of the urban utopia.

The comments at PoP really reveal that most gentrifiers perfectly understand that these are fights over space and power. They're just on the evil side of that fight.

by Corey on Jul 23, 2013 3:23 pm • linkreport

DC really doesnt have that much older high density housing because prior to 1940 it was basically a small town, and from 1968 or so not much was built in most areas.

There are hundreds of immense high density housing buildings up on Connecticut and Wisconsin Avenues that were built before 1940. Many of the have been declared historic.

by goldfish on Jul 23, 2013 3:24 pm • linkreport

"gets too crowded, prices rise, but people still come in and pay the prices, making it even more crowded, causing still more increases in prices."

where do these people come from? would they not seek units in this area if you limited building?

There are plenty of areas in DC that have had very few new units built - Georgetown, the parts of Capitol Hill closest to the Capitol - DuPont Circle. Are those areas affordable? Does a unit (with identical amenities and quality) sell at a discount?

Prices have been sustained in this region because people have moved in because JOBS have grown.

Grow the jobs, you will get new residents. They will drive up prices SOMEWHERE in the region. Stop growing new jobs, you will stop the cycle.

Unless you think demand is being sustained by trust fund babies sitting in their condos writing the great American novel - or doing freelance jobs via email, where they could locate elsewhere, and they have chosen 14th street over Brooklyn, or Portland, because well DC is just so KEWL with all its condos.

I do not beleive that, but I suppose some do.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 3:25 pm • linkreport

MJB,

I feel you. I just personally determined that A. these things are bigger than me and B. the goal should be not to stop or reverse, but mitigate.

I can't say if its good for society as a whole, I don't know if that's even a question that should be asked. I don't care about "meaning" so much as I care about a result and how to achieve it. The actual thing, that people seemed to be worried about is housing affordability. There are a number of discrete solutions for that and I generally support those even as I personally seriously consider just up and moving to Richmond where I can afford more of what I want in a neighborhood.

tl;dr, to me, its worthless to talk about the "meaning" of gentrification. Let's talk about actual challenges and responses.

by drumz on Jul 23, 2013 3:26 pm • linkreport

Seriously, you guys, the problem is the whole city is hurtling towards being too expensive for anybody who isn't rich, even by DC standards. Yes, even Anacostia (give it a decade).

Sorry, but if you're priced out of the 14th street area, there's no need to live in Clifton. Do what a lot of other folks did: buy a house in a peripheral neighborhood like Rosedale, or EOTR, or Ft Totten, or whatever and contribute to the community. (And please, please don't talk about how you'd never do that because it's "dangerous" or whatever.)

If there'd been an internet back in the late-eighties, I'm sure I'd have been on it griping about how it's not fair that all the evil 30+ year olds in Georgetown have driven up the prices and that some special accomodation should be made for me because I got there too late.

As far as your prediction that Anacostia will be unaffordable in 10 years, that may happen. Or it may not. But that's why we have affordable housing plans in place. Not so everyone who wants to live in DC can--since that's not necessarily in the interests of DC residents, or the health of the city, and that has to be balanced by other considerations. But because providing some level of income diversity is also healthy for the city.

by oboe on Jul 23, 2013 3:26 pm • linkreport

GGW is rarefied air.

GGW certainly likes to think of itself that way!

by Scoot on Jul 23, 2013 3:27 pm • linkreport

Grow the jobs, you will get new residents.

Nobody making federal GS salaries can afford these rents. Most entry-level lawyers can't either. I lay it on the trust-funders.

by goldfish on Jul 23, 2013 3:28 pm • linkreport

Scoot,

those things may drive up desirability and price, but the thing is that the metro area's population is growing fast and so incremental steps like that must deal with the twin forks of A: urban living becoming more desireable and B: more and more people moving in, increasing the number of people competing for space.

Moreover, I don't see how you decline to do those things and get the result of more affordable housing.

by drumz on Jul 23, 2013 3:29 pm • linkreport

I think this discussion may be overloading the GGW irony sensors. To sum up the comments:

"Density: It's all fun and games until it happens to your neighborhood."

by Chris S. on Jul 23, 2013 3:31 pm • linkreport

"The usual simplistic approach to market economics: building more housing hasn't reduced prices. Lifting rent control in NYC didn't have its hoped-for effects. Maybe if you built highrises all over Logan Prices would finally drop, but that's unlikely. "

how much new market rate housing was built east of Rock Creek Park from 1970 to 2000?

We had a couple of year of some new housing - then the market crash - then a year or two of a full pipeline. Catching up with a backlog of demand.

Throughout here I see folks extrapolating from a few years. Thats one disadvantage of being 20 something. Some perspective will tell you that markets go up - and they go down.

When I was a teenager, people forecast that the cities would become farms again. Well thats happened in Detroit, I guess. But I recall people only half facetiously suggesting it for NYC. Where there was construction of suburban style SFHs in a bombed out part of the Bronx. Things change. Calm down.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 3:31 pm • linkreport

"Nobody making federal GS salaries can afford these rents. Most entry-level lawyers can't either. I lay it on the trust-funders."

new GSers (or non profit employees) with trust funds? Or folks without DC specific jobs with trust funds? may not matter to the feel of the neighborhood, but sure does to the economics.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 3:33 pm • linkreport

"I think this discussion may be overloading the GGW irony sensors. To sum up the comments:
"Density: It's all fun and games until it happens to your neighborhood.""

Have you been to Southern Towers lately? Plenty dense. Also the cheapest units in northern virginia.

Logan Circle isnt expensive because it dense. Its expensive because its attractive and walkable to downtown.

Can you show me the cheap blocks in less dense Capitol Hill?

show me low density areas that are cheap only because they are low density - and not because of their locations, or their crime and other problems?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 3:37 pm • linkreport

Induced demand for housing? Nah, it just can't be! This violates everything we know about supply-and-demand.

Lately this neighborhood is getting too crowded, so nobody goes there anymore.

"Induced demand" - you keep using this phrase. I do not think it means what you think it means. Or at least you don't get why in some cases it's not a bad thing.

gets too crowded, prices rise, but people still come in and pay the prices, making it even more crowded, causing still more increases in prices.

Back in the early 90s you could get a nice appt there for $300-400/month. I know, cause I looked then. Now, $3000-4000 (10x)? Crazy!

Like to see you prove which came first, the people or the increases in price, and what induces what. It is momentum (2nd order) price increases.

The people come first - people who want to fix up the neighborhood housing stock and live there. When the neighborhood is nicer, more people want to live there and prices start to rise. Each change to the neighborhood makes it marginally more desirable, therefore more people are willing to live there so prices keep going up.

Actually what probably happened first was the start of the long-term decline in crime.

Or is your argument that just building something increases prices? Or that more supply won't bring down prices? I think your problem with that second question is you aren't asking "in comparison to what?"

by MLD on Jul 23, 2013 3:37 pm • linkreport

re: It's interesting to me that several commentors have suggested that the answer to expensive real estate is to increase supply - since 14th St represents an enormous increase in supply over the last 10-15 years, and we see where affordability has gone.

But the growing supply hasn't existed in a vacuum. When I went to shows at Black Cat ten years ago, you could park a block or 2 away on 14th Street or S, even on a Friday night. Or, failing that, you could pay $10 to park in any one of about 6 grody, cash-only parking cages. There were few, if any, of the amenities and businesses that are there today. I remember getting a peanut butter cookie for dinner at a coffee shop at the corner of 14th and T before a show because there wasn't anywhere to eat but fluorescent-lit carry-outs; I don't think Saint-Ex was even open yet.

Supply at 14th has increased greatly over the past 10-15 years, but all the high-end entertainment and dining has increased demand for that area even more.

by worthing on Jul 23, 2013 3:41 pm • linkreport

I am glad there is now finally some evidence that rents are decreasing (at least slightly in a few areas for Class A apartments). However, I have a bad feeling that simply increasing the supply will not automatically lead to more affordability.

by Watcher on Jul 23, 2013 3:42 pm • linkreport

@Walker

"well for one, I don't think its near to the whole city. I really think thats just incorrect.

Do I need to list the neighborhoods that are as yet untouched by gentrication? and of the ones in the early stages, its just not very likely that all will increase in prices like this."

Yeah but that's what was being said ten years ago, and look how it's all turned out? I'm telling you, when even Brookland is transforming the way it is, there's enough steam to roll over EOTR and all of Ward 5, too. Then we're left with a monoculture that's hostile to anybody down the income ladder, *and* we're still dealing with massive amounts of commuters because anybody who ain't rich will still be commuting.

It's trading one set of problems for another similar set.

by MJB on Jul 23, 2013 3:42 pm • linkreport

"There are hundreds of immense high density housing buildings up on Connecticut and Wisconsin Avenues that were built before 1940"

the entire population of ward 3 is less than 80,000. Im guessing at least half of that is in SFHs, TH's, and low rise apts. that really isnt that many hirise apts for a city that is the heart of a metro are of over 5 million people. It may have been enough for equilibrium in the 1940s and 1950s - and especially in the succeeding decades when the metro area grew, but DC declined and the middle class began to flee to the suburbs. When the area grew even more, and city living grew fashionable again, it was far from enough.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 3:43 pm • linkreport

The limits of wonky analysis of society are evident in comments like these. 14th St. is getting "safer and more desirable" FOR YOU.

Safer has a noncontroversial, objective definition - less crime, in particular less street crime. Are you seriously suggesting that 14th Street/Logan Circle was safer 20 years ago? Come on.

As for more desirable, yes, it means different things to different people. Do a lot of people really think Logan Circle circa 1983 was "more desirable" than it is now? I bet not.

by dcd on Jul 23, 2013 3:44 pm • linkreport

When I read stuff like this, I wonder who is moving into these areas in this town that can pay for the high living costs. Federal gov't pays decent, but not enough for 900k condos. Are they federal contractors? What other industries are there in this town that someone would be making that much money not associated with the federal gov't. Lobbyists, nonprofits, law firms? Many of them only exist because of the federal gov't, but I guess they can make a lot of money.

Who are these young white people with money? If you're 22-27, with the way the economy and job market has been over the last 6 years, I doubt you're rollin. Even in a good economy, you don't make much money anyway in the first five years. I guess this town did ok though because the federal gov't never really downsized throughout the recession.

by Nickyp on Jul 23, 2013 3:45 pm • linkreport

"I'm telling you, when even Brookland is transforming the way it is, there's enough steam to roll over EOTR and all of Ward 5, too. "

Brookland has average prices for CONDOS in the 900s? Last I looked, you can get a pretty humongous house in Brookland for that. I did not say that its not possible that at some poing every part of DC will gentrify, a bit (though I dont think its likely) but that not everyone will turn out like 14th street.

And the prospect of 630,000 (or if more supply is built 800,000) affluent people is unlikely unless the metro area grows VERY fast. suppose it grows to 10 million. What percent are going to be very affluent? 10%? thats a million people - a lot of whom are going to prefer horse farms in loudoun, or mcmansions in mclean anyway. the rest will be distributed among DC, Arlington, Alexandria, Bethesda, Tysons, etc.

Its like Bill Clinton said - its arithmetic.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 3:48 pm • linkreport

@MJB: You can buy a 2-br house within walking distance of the Deanwood metro (and library, rec center & indoor pool) for under $250K, a 3-br house for under $325K.

by ZetteZelle on Jul 23, 2013 3:51 pm • linkreport

Safer has a noncontroversial, objective definition - less crime, in particular less street crime. Are you seriously suggesting that 14th Street/Logan Circle was safer 20 years ago? Come on.

Nothing has an "objective definition". Crime rates are population statistics. Societal phenomena like crime are felt by different people in different ways, unless you're arguing that the incidence of crime fell uniformly on a community?

In pre-gentrified neighborhoods, yes, there was higher overall incidence of crime. It wildly disproportionately fell on those involved in the drug trade, on the relative margins (figuratively, not literally speaking) of those neighborhoods. Long-time residents who knew the area had the ability to "read" the street, know who was who, know which blocks to maybe avoid parking on, and generally understand the contours of crime in the neighborhood and avoid them.

On the other hand decreases in headline crime rates made neighborhoods more desirable to outsiders and paradoxically less hospitable to the longtimers.

So yes, in a vacuum, decreases in crime are great! But we don't live in a vacuum.

by Corey on Jul 23, 2013 3:52 pm • linkreport

@MJB

So what is your solution? Or rather, what do you actually think the root problem is?

The problem as I see it is that you have an extra 10,000 or however many people who move to the region per year and would like to live in DC but there isn't enough housing in places where they would like to live. So your only option if you want to live here is to outcompete everyone else on how much you are willing to pay to live here.

There is a reason that "gentrification" or whatever you want to call it moves out in waves from certain places. People want to be near stuff they find valuable (shopping, dining, good schools, short commutes) and so they will try to be near that. It's exactly the same theory as "drive until you qualify."

by MLD on Jul 23, 2013 3:52 pm • linkreport

@oboe

"Sorry, but if you're priced out of the 14th street area, there's no need to live in Clifton. Do what a lot of other folks did: buy a house in a peripheral neighborhood like Rosedale, or EOTR, or Ft Totten, or whatever and contribute to the community. (And please, please don't talk about how you'd never do that because it's "dangerous" or whatever.)"

Whew, OK, I was living in Brookland in 2005, and I bet I'm a hell of a lot less worried about crime than anyone on this board, but if you wanna make me out to be some kind of wussy yuppie because I can't afford to live in a city I grew up in/around, then go right ahead.

"If there'd been an internet back in the late-eighties, I'm sure I'd have been on it griping about how it's not fair that all the evil 30+ year olds in Georgetown"

It's not just this neighborhood though, it's the whole city - I'm sticking to my position that in 10 years EOTR and Ward 5 will be unaffordable (though not to the same extent) as well. $700,000 condos and the whole shebang.

"...have driven up the prices and that some special accomodation should be made for me because I got there too late."

BOOM there it is! Contempt for my generation because we weren't fortunate enough to be born at the right time. Very nice. I should hope your own children have as many "opportunities" as the Millenials. Seriously, I'm in my mid-twenties. Was I supposed to buy a house at age 14?

"As far as your prediction that Anacostia will be unaffordable in 10 years, that may happen. Or it may not. But that's why we have affordable housing plans in place."

So how long is the waiting list for affordable housing, again? 20 years or so? I hope you're not being serious.

"Not so everyone who wants to live in DC can--since that's not necessarily in the interests of DC residents, or the health of the city, and that has to be balanced by other considerations. But because providing some level of income diversity is also healthy for the city."

So I guess you're agreeing with me that the whole city should not be turned into a rich man's playground?

by MJB on Jul 23, 2013 3:52 pm • linkreport

thought experiment.

Lamond riggs rises to the prices now found in Logan Circle

what happens to prices in Logan Circle? Do they A. Stay the same B. increase proportionately
If A - is it realistic to see people paying the same price in lamond as in Logan when Logan is so much more convenient to downtown. B - is it realistic to expect there to be enough people paying a multiple of current logan circle rents to fill the area?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 3:53 pm • linkreport

well for one, I don't think its near to the whole city. I really think thats just incorrect. I am NOT doing to downplay the risks and disadvantages of moving to the rest of DC, as I think some do, but it is the case that there is plenty of DC that is far from being like this.

Plenty of places in DC that are reasonably affordable, especially with a two-earner household.

http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/231-Jefferson-St-NW-Washington-DC-20011/487818_zpid/

As far as the safety issues go, I think it's a bit rich for young folks to complain about the 40 year olds who moved to 14th street in the early 90s. "After all, prices were so *low* back then!" While at the same time demanding all of the amenities (bars and restaurants steps from your door) *and* demanding a Spring Valley level of crime.

Heck, the crime rate in the worst part of Anacostia is lower today than the crime around 14th Street back in the early 90s.

by oboe on Jul 23, 2013 3:54 pm • linkreport

People my age can't afford to buy anymore, and it's looking increasingly doubtful we'll ever be able to - this is the problem, too many of the commenters here are over 35 and are having trouble understanding how the situation is for young folks, as well as longtime residents. We're already priced out, and it seems permanent.

I don't disagree with this, to a certain extent. However, the last sentence is just wrong. You're not priced out of the city, just certain neighborhoods. Young people (and it distresses me that under 35 can be considered "young") can't buy in hot, highly desirable areas, because they're too expensive. Once again, this is not news - it's been that way for a long time.

When I was a 20-something, ready to get away from my party-central place in Adams Morgan, I bought in Columbia Heights. Did I have a burning desire to live there? Did I forsee the tremendous changes that would take place? No, I just couldn't afford a similar place in Dupont Circle, or Georgetown, or Woodley Park - where I really wanted to live. Things turned out well, but that's with the benefit of hindsight. At the time, I couldn't afford the house I wanted in the neighborhood I wanted, so something had to give.

This phenomenon has been going on for a long, long time. I have a very hard time getting worked up because the under-35 set can't purchase, or rent, in what is now one of the most sought-after areas in the city. Yes, there are plenty of trust-fund babies who can, but there always have been.

by dcd on Jul 23, 2013 3:56 pm • linkreport

@MLD: "Induced demand" - you keep using this phrase. I do not think it means what you think it means. Or at least you don't get why in some cases it's not a bad thing.

Does this bother you? so sorry.

"Induced demand" is a kind of Rorschach test. Whether it is "good" or "bad" depends on the person saying it, what it describes, and the person hearing it.

So which is it for you? do you you *like* $900k condos? And don't give me any econ mumbo-jumbo. Clearly the laws of economics, which essentially depend on small departures from equilibrium, are out of whack here.

Frankly I think the whole thing is driven by sex -- good looking, young, well-to-do (or actually flat-out rich) people moving attracting more of the same.

by goldfish on Jul 23, 2013 3:58 pm • linkreport

"If you want to have a sustainable life in a neighborhood you have to buy into said neighborhood."
People buy where they can afford to buy. I've never been a fan of the "so-and-so is simply bitter about the fact that they didn't buy into the neighborhood" whenever discussions related to housing and neighborhood affordability arise. it presumes that everyone is in a position to buy, and that not buying is simply a desire to continue with a more flexible housing arrangement. That isn't always the case.

Certainly there are people who are either uncertain of their living arrangments/jobs in the near future who will not buy. There are also people who are too poor to ever buy.

I truly wish that we lived in a world where everyone could know with certainty what their life was going to turn out to be in the future, but I think that is a problem with life not a problem with DC.

I also truly wish that we lived in a world where everyone could afford to live wherever they wanted, that no matter how little they made at their jobs they could live in whatever specific place they wanted with as much space as they needed, but again that is a problem with capitalism(and the fact that more people want to live some places than others) not DC.

by Richard B on Jul 23, 2013 3:59 pm • linkreport

you have the capital of a nation of over 300 million people still (probably) the largest GDP on the planet (and soon, second ONLY to China)

you have a neighborhood that is walking distance to most desirable employment addresses in the city. as in from 14th and R to say, 15th and K, its less than a mile. 20 minute walk for a fit young person. Half an hour walk for a doddering old lobbyist.

and people are SUPRISED that its expensive, trendy, and frou frou?

In what world would one expect it NOT to be - other than a world post riots, post white flight, post crack epidemic, where its EXPECTED that a place walking distance from the employment center of a thriving metro of almost 6 million people is affordable to the middle class.

Think about what you are saying, people.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 3:59 pm • linkreport

My friends that own property in DC (U St/Petworth/Mt P) / Arlington Heights are all from middle class backgrounds and did well for themselves working hard. None of them got help from family to buy property. For the most part they lived frugally, did with one or no cars and saved up. They're all married too, I can't imagine a single person buying in most of DC. I'm not saying middle class is not a great asset but no I don't think people are all trust fund kids. I know some very nice trust fund kids but most people I know in DC are just smart, capable, and hard working.

by Alan B. on Jul 23, 2013 4:01 pm • linkreport

BOOM there it is! Contempt for my generation because we weren't fortunate enough to be born at the right time. Very nice. I should hope your own children have as many "opportunities" as the Millenials. Seriously, I'm in my mid-twenties. Was I supposed to buy a house at age 14?

No, but you could try buying a house in today's version of 80s-90s Logan Circle. You know there wasn't a Whole Foods on P street then, right? Carver-Langston, Deanwood, Ward 7, Ward 8, those are the places that are this way NOW but in 20+ years will be very different.

It's stupid to set THIS THING up as a generational battle. It's not. It's partially true that some people have been lucky in that inner areas were more hospitable when they were in their 20s and 30s but Logan Circle, etc are never going to be CHEAP again now that cities are actually desirable. There is an argument to be made for more housing being built in those places where it is feasible but it isn't suddenly going to mean you can buy something for dirt cheap in an area that already has everything you want.

by MLD on Jul 23, 2013 4:02 pm • linkreport

"So which is it for you? do you you *like* $900k condos? And don't give me any econ mumbo-jumbo. "

IE don't apply the analysis that would actually address the question.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 4:02 pm • linkreport

Same story, different neighborhood.

DC's real estate market was at best (slowly declining, as a while) from 68-98. Yes, some neighborhoods like Georgetown, Cleveland Park etc saw reliable appreciation on a yearly basis, but it was small, and the overall market in the District suffered. It suffered from a falling population, it suffered from the ancillary effects of being a hotbed of crime and enormous swaths of the District lay fallow for years. Hell, I bought a renovated 4 story townhouse (3 above, 1 below) at East Cap and 6th, 4 blocks behind the Supreme Court for 320K in 1993. 20 years later, nothing sells for less than ~1.7. on my street, and those are kinda fixer uppers. It cost more to buy a house in Arlington at the time.

The point I am trying to make is that DC's real estate market had a lot of catching up to do. It's ~40 economic duress artifically held District real estate prices much, much lower than they would have been, especially in comparison to RE prices in other major cities nationwide, let alone the fact that the District is the Capital City of the worlds richest nation, and Cleveland or Pittsburg put us to shame.

I get the impression that many who post here, arrived in the past decade, and so remember the "post apocalyptic" DC pricing and now are confronted with the current situation.

DC real estate had it coming and this would have happened at some point. If anything, the Great Recession only served to push it along at a more frenzied rate as the the number of people moving to DC on a yearly basis increased 600% in the span of a year and stayed there because DC was the only source of employment in the nation, and there are lots of high paying positions here for people to fill.

by CapHill on Jul 23, 2013 4:02 pm • linkreport

@MLD

"So what is your solution? Or rather, what do you actually think the root problem is?"

I don't have a magic bullet solution, other than massive, immediate investment in transportation, social services, and development outside the core, and that ain't gonna happen anytime soon. I also am not sure of the root of the problem, I just know that at the pace we've been at since 2000 - Walker, take note - we're gonna be a monoculture by the mid 2020's, or sooner.

But that's not the issue. The issue is that those here criticizing the piece and those that support its thesis deny there's even a problem to begin with.

by MJB on Jul 23, 2013 4:02 pm • linkreport

@Corey - On the other hand decreases in headline crime rates made neighborhoods more desirable to outsiders and paradoxically less hospitable to the longtimers.

So yes, in a vacuum, decreases in crime are great! But we don't live in a vacuum.

Interesting take, but I can't quite get onboard with the logical gymnastics of "the crime you know" being a better outcome than lower overall crime rates. I think I see where you're going with it--the presence of drug trade crime that longtimers know how to mitigate/avoid acts as a sort of shell on the afflicted neighborhood, preventing gentrification/newcomers/increases in property taxes that make aging in place unsustainable--but I don't think it's a better outcome for the city at large.

by worthing on Jul 23, 2013 4:06 pm • linkreport

@oboe

"As far as the safety issues go, I think it's a bit rich for young folks to complain about the 40 year olds who moved to 14th street in the early 90s. "After all, prices were so *low* back then!" While at the same time demanding all of the amenities (bars and restaurants steps from your door) *and* demanding a Spring Valley level of crime."

Who is doing this, Oboe? The strawman you keep in your back pocket? I'm 6'5" with crazy eyes, I've never been mugged, and I'm more likely to socialize with the type of folks you would probably cross the street to avoid than anybody doing yoga and drinking $15 cocktails.

I demand the opportunity to live and contribute to the community in DC, but if I gotta move every few years to a new neighborhood or out of DC altogether, how is this possible?

by MJB on Jul 23, 2013 4:07 pm • linkreport

+1 AWalkerInTheCity for the thought experiment!

by xmal on Jul 23, 2013 4:09 pm • linkreport

No, but you could try buying a house in today's version of 80s-90s Logan Circle.

I know you're meaning well and we generally agree, but I do hate this logic when applied by opponents of specific projects. In general yes, there is always a way to make it work. It's fine as a general principle. Awful when brought out to apply to specific projects.

by drumz on Jul 23, 2013 4:10 pm • linkreport

@ AWalkerInTheCity "Logan Circle isnt expensive because it dense. Its expensive because its attractive and walkable to downtown."

But see, I thought in the future higher density would enable us all to be able to live in walkable neighborhoods right where the action is, eliminating the need for long commutes, shopping trips, etc. But judging from this thread it sounds like the reality is not many people can live in such neighborhoods, and that most of us common folk will eventually end up on the city outskirts or heaven forbid the suburbs. Which almost sounds like sprawl.

by Chris S. on Jul 23, 2013 4:11 pm • linkreport

"But that's not the issue. The issue is that those here criticizing the piece and those that support its thesis deny there's even a problem to begin with."

I resent that. Whenever someone makes a post supporting a "GGWish" solution, there is ALWAYS someone saying - its no real problem, stop complaining, just move EOTR - and myself, MLD, Drumz,etc are usually countering that. Take a look at some posts by Dan Reed on affordability.

Ben's post was NOT a post like Dan Reeds. Dan tends to address the region (or MoCo as part of the region) and to address overall affordability issues, realistically and with suggested solutions. This was a long whine, about the hottest neighborhood in the region (I guess) and about it not being affordable to affluent gentry any more (which is why it brought to mind the onion piece) and some of the comments in response have either A made unrealistic forecasts B. actually opposed increases in supply, and in least one case came from a commenter who is usually of the "go EOTR and dont complain" school C. have played on generational and other divides.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 4:12 pm • linkreport

Chris S.,

The goal isn't necessarily indicative or reality for sure. That's why many of us also support removing/modifying the height limit which can help acheive what you initially describe.

But those are separate from the choices we need to make today re: where one chooses to live.

by drumz on Jul 23, 2013 4:13 pm • linkreport

I'm a Millennial too. Frankly, I think our biggest problem is that we want the tranquility of the suburbs with the lifestyle of the city. It can be bought, it's just rather expensive.

by Alan B. on Jul 23, 2013 4:14 pm • linkreport

"but see, I thought in the future higher density would enable us all to be able to live in walkable neighborhoods right where the action is, eliminating the need for long commutes, shopping trips, etc"

logan circle is NOT a walkable area, accessible to the employment center of DC by a 30 minute metro ride.

Logan circle is a 30 minute WALK to the employment center of DC.

i trust you can see why that makes a difference.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 4:14 pm • linkreport

So which is it for you? do you you *like* $900k condos? And don't give me any econ mumbo-jumbo. Clearly the laws of economics, which essentially depend on small departures from equilibrium, are out of whack here.

Frankly I think the whole thing is driven by sex -- good looking, young, well-to-do (or actually flat-out rich) people moving attracting more of the same.

I mean is there something inherently wrong with $900K condos?

Of course the laws of econ seem out of whack, it's because we aren't remotely building enough places to house all of the people who want to live in close proximity to all this stuff.

As for your second comment, it's probably some of that and some of wanting to be close to things like restaurants, jobs, bars, grocery stores, etc. But mostly the fact that it is close to a lot of things, and unlike 30 years ago you aren't likely to get propositioned by a streetwalker or stabbed by a crackhead.

Like if I have a farm out in bumf***, Nebraska and I build a 20-story housing complex next to it, are people going to instantly flock there and drive the price of housing up? You keep positing this for DC as if it's just the new housing for people that's driving the prices up - how could that possibly be?

by MLD on Jul 23, 2013 4:15 pm • linkreport

"This phenomenon has been going on for a long, long time. I have a very hard time getting worked up because the under-35 set can't purchase, or rent, in what is now one of the most sought-after areas in the city. Yes, there are plenty of trust-fund babies who can, but there always have been."

You guys really don't see where this is all going, do you? I keep talking about the whole city becoming unaffordable, but you keep coming back to Logan Circle.

Barring a massive stroke of luck, I'm going to be chasing after the "affordable" areas of the city my whole life. I know it makes you feel uncomfortable to admit, but it's very very possible we turn into another NYC, where DC proper is Manhattan and the suburban jurisdictions are the outer boroughs.

I, for one, lament the trends towards cultural and income Balkanization.

"DC real estate had it coming and this would have happened at some point. If anything, the Great Recession only served to push it along at a more frenzied rate as the the number of people moving to DC on a yearly basis increased 600% in the span of a year and stayed there because DC was the only source of employment in the nation, and there are lots of high paying positions here for people to fill."

See this guy gets it, but while some of us agree that this can turn into a problem really fast, others think it's not a problem at all. It's no coincidence they're the ones who already "got their's", and aren't interested in ensuring access for a reasonable section of the income ladder, as long as they get more small plates and $2,000 chairs.

by MJB on Jul 23, 2013 4:16 pm • linkreport

I think there is a bit of confusion here. We talk alot about making WUPS at transit accesible (more or less) locations. Tenleytown. Takoma. Silver Spring. Brookland. Hyattsville. Ballston. Old Town alexandria. Columbia Pike.

note well. Not one of them is WALKING distance to the heart of the K street employment center.

You can build a million new units in them, and that wont increase the supply walking distance to the part of K Street from say, 12th to 17th street.

Short of really changing height limits dramatically, walking distance to downtown is going to always command a big premium.

It will help if "unsuck metro" It will help if we make biking a more viable alternative. But it will never make those other places 100% substitutes for the places walkable to the regions employment center.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 4:20 pm • linkreport

worthing, I remember going to 9:30 club in 2000. Now that was an interesting experience for a young kid from the burbs. At least I used to go into New York a lot as a kid so I was somewhat acclimated.

by Alan B. on Jul 23, 2013 4:20 pm • linkreport

@dcd

When I was a 20-something, ready to get away from my party-central place in Adams Morgan, I bought in Columbia Heights. Did I have a burning desire to live there? Did I forsee the tremendous changes that would take place? No, I just couldn't afford a similar place in Dupont Circle, or Georgetown, or Woodley Park - where I really wanted to live.

Exactly our situation. Lived in A-M for years in a one-bedroom rent-controlled apartment. Started looking for condos in the neighborhood and got shut out. Looked in all the neighborhoods you mentioned and eventually found a place near H Street before any of the current development had taken place.

Crime was a lot more prevalent than it is now. And the closest place to go have a drink and dinner was 10 blocks away at Eastern Market. Of course, now I'm sure there are plenty of younger folks who are pissed off that they missed the gravy train. But the gravy train is up around Missouri and North Capitol Street. Or EOTR.

If on the other hand the problem you're looking to solve is "how do we ensure that any young person can find a place to live that's cheap and guaranteed in any particular neighborhood in DC until the end of time" I think you're aiming too high.

If your point is just that "It's sad that not everyone can live exactly where one wants, because that would be nice" then I agree wholeheartedly.

by oboe on Jul 23, 2013 4:22 pm • linkreport

"C. have played on generational and other divides."

Oh OK, so I guess dismissing concerns about extremely fast and intense gentrification with, "you should have bought sooner" is just totally unifying.

It's not playing on generational divides to assert that this city isn't going to have a full social fabric if we only allow two types of people to live here:

A. Rich people
B. Those born at the right time

Very discouraging. In the future, I shall keep in mind that this city is only for the lucky.

by MJB on Jul 23, 2013 4:23 pm • linkreport

"Barring a massive stroke of luck, I'm going to be chasing after the "affordable" areas of the city my whole life. I know it makes you feel uncomfortable to admit, but it's very very possible we turn into another NYC, where DC proper is Manhattan and the suburban jurisdictions are the outer boroughs.

I, for one, lament the trends towards cultural and income Balkanization"

1. Manhattan is the heart of a region of over what, 16 million people?

2. Manhattans RE market would be different if there were a better rail connection to NJ.

3. Manhattan is more diverse than one might think - still lots of poor folks in public housing - and young less affluent folks in the far north end of the island

4. NYC draws a lot of people just because its NYC. I still have trouble seeing DC do that.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 4:23 pm • linkreport

@drumz
I know you're meaning well and we generally agree, but I do hate this logic when applied by opponents of specific projects. In general yes, there is always a way to make it work. It's fine as a general principle. Awful when brought out to apply to specific projects.

Sorry, but I was only responding to MJB's specific predicament and complaint, it's not a solution for the overall problem.

@Chris S
But see, I thought in the future higher density would enable us all to be able to live in walkable neighborhoods right where the action is, eliminating the need for long commutes, shopping trips, etc. But judging from this thread it sounds like the reality is not many people can live in such neighborhoods, and that most of us common folk will eventually end up on the city outskirts or heaven forbid the suburbs. Which almost sounds like sprawl.

Wait, why would you think this? If you build more walkable places that means more places for people to live close to things. Why would they automatically all be expensive?

by MLD on Jul 23, 2013 4:27 pm • linkreport

BOOM there it is! Contempt for my generation because we weren't fortunate enough to be born at the right time. Very nice. I should hope your own children have as many "opportunities" as the Millenials. Seriously, I'm in my mid-twenties. Was I supposed to buy a house at age 14?

There no contempt for not being born at the right time. As Obow, and MLD, and I have pointed out, this happens to every generation.

The contempt, if there is any, is for the whining that it's just not FAIR, and that there is a systemic problem because you can't live exactly where you want.

by dcd on Jul 23, 2013 4:28 pm • linkreport

"Oh OK, so I guess dismissing concerns about extremely fast and intense gentrification with, "you should have bought sooner" is just totally unifying."

I think thats taking oboe (or whomever) out of context. He wasnt saying that the folks living in places like logan were lucky to have bought sooner, but that those places werent like that then.

"It's not playing on generational divides to assert that this city isn't going to have a full social fabric if we only allow two types of people to live here:

A. Rich people
B. Those born at the right time"

Again, I dont think thats a realistic prediction. I also think it is to some extent artificial because of the small area of DC. most metros have center cities taking up more space. In addition to EOTR DC, W5, etc there are plenty of areas close in in the suburbs that are relatively affordable, and are functionally part of DC, if not politically and legally.

ultimately the solution, I think is to reduce overall inequity in our society. Thats why I supported obamacare, and Obamas tax policies. Also why I am sympathetic to raising minimum wages, restoring influence to unions, etc.

As for geographically mixing the classes that we do have- well Im all for discussions of affordable housing policy. I dont see how whining about the coming of apocalypse is either realistic, or helpful.

"Very discouraging. In the future, I shall keep in mind that this city is only for the lucky."

One thing, though, those with a talent for rhetoric certainlyh do have hopeful futures in this city.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 4:29 pm • linkreport

Re: Manhattan you can get a one bedroom in Hudson County that is a 20 minute bus/PATH ride from the city for like $1000 a month. I think we have to accept that not everyone is going to live in Manhattan, just like I'm never going to buy a place in Kalorama or Logan.

by Alan B. on Jul 23, 2013 4:30 pm • linkreport

Much of the displacement that we see today is actually people who moved to neighborhoods like Logan Circle a few years ago, as the gentrification started, and are now priced out. I think this type of gentrification is actually good for the city because it creates urbanists and sends them out to the more car oriented areas. Hopefully they move to a neighborhood like Petworth, Brookland, or Takoma and help it develop. They will develop differently of course. Since they aren't next to downtown they are more likely to take on a character similar to Eastern Market, Cleveland Park, or Mt Pleasant St.

Personally, I was priced out of Mt Pleasant when I wanted a 1 bedroom and then I was priced out of Takoma when I wanted to buy a house. I wouldn't normally advertise that but I'm being honest. I now own a house in nearby Lamond and agitate for more density, bars and restaurants, and smart growth.

by LamondNick on Jul 23, 2013 4:30 pm • linkreport

"But judging from this thread it sounds like the reality is not many people can live in such neighborhoods, and that most of us common folk will eventually end up on the city outskirts or heaven forbid the suburbs. Which almost sounds like sprawl."

only if you confuse sprawl as in "auto centric, unwalkable" with sprawl as in "located in a suburban jurisdiction" or even sprawl as in "farther than 2 miles from K street"

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 4:31 pm • linkreport

@Oboe

"If on the other hand the problem you're looking to solve is "how do we ensure that any young person can find a place to live that's cheap and guaranteed in any particular neighborhood in DC until the end of time" I think you're aiming too high.

If your point is just that "It's sad that not everyone can live exactly where one wants, because that would be nice" then I agree wholeheartedly."

This reminds me of the responses from the right/Clintonites about the folks who were rendered jobless over the past 20 years:

"These folks just want handouts and they feel entitled to all make $250,000/year!"

Again, nobody is arguing any young person should be able to live cheaply in any part of the city, that's a strawman. Same as Walker asserting I believe $900,000 condos will exist in Brookland next year.

What I'm arguing is that points west of North Capitol should serve as a bellwether for the rest of the city. But feel free to continue gnashing your teeth over the idea of 'all these entitled whippersnappers thinking they deserve to live in Logan Circle!'

by MJB on Jul 23, 2013 4:32 pm • linkreport

On another level, I think it's really telling that DC's few interesting cultural movements - go-go and the post-punk movement in the 90s come to mind - emerged from a low-price, pre-gentrification equilibrium.

And that, again, really illustrates the limits of analyzing this problem from the wonkish perspective. Technocrats with expensive degrees and huge salaries are desirable residents for a city when you compress everything into tax revenues and crime statistics, but they tend not to produce interesting culture. What kind of value do you put on Fugazi or Chuck Brown or the Dismemberment Plan?

by Corey on Jul 23, 2013 4:33 pm • linkreport

MLD,

No I feel you, I just wanted to get that in before someone tries to throw that back in your (or my) face.

MJB,

It's not playing on generational divides to assert that this city isn't going to have a full social fabric if we only allow two types of people to live here:

A. Rich people
B. Those born at the right time:

Well, I think the responses have been: is that really happening city-wide (or region wide) and what good is it to recognize that if no solutions are accepted.

The paradigm has changed as well. It used to be that the city was cheap because it was undesireable. However, suburbs like fairfax were relatively unpopulated and you could just move there with less marginal impact, ie there was no one to "displace". Though if you talk to someone from an area transitioning from rural to suburban they can make complaints that are similar to yours.

by drumz on Jul 23, 2013 4:33 pm • linkreport

Corey- No fret- There are still plenty of crack dealers on the 1400 block of R, Johnson Avenue and 1300 Block of Riggs Place. Yep, right next to $1M condos and $16 cocktail places.

Generally those of us who worked for so long here are pleased with some reservations. The few huge 8-story new buildings are just a couple stories too tall, 2 stories too deep, and too block size to fit the scale of the street. We like the fill-in 6-story retrofits with good new architecture and no underground better. Hopefully we'll soon get our sidewalks back as the last of the outsized whales are finished.

We also are weary of the Adams-Morgan effect of downward-spiral of liquor licenses. The city says 50% of 14th and 100% of the commercial sidestreets can be liquor. A-M was originally the "in" "hip" area with great cafe life. But owners soon realize that their profits are overwhelmingly coming from the liquor sales and food is a nuisance. After they make that conclusion, the next is that in liquor sales it's the heavy drinkers that make the profits flow. Hence A-M today but hopefully not Logan tomorrow (but there's nothing to stop it).

Those of us who have rentals certainly appreciate the way the influx of new buildings has brought rents double what they were a couple years ago. But I do feel bad for the young people who are either priced out or have to spend most of their paycheck for rent.

by Tom Coumaris on Jul 23, 2013 4:35 pm • linkreport

"This reminds me of the responses from the right/Clintonites about the folks who were rendered jobless over the past 20 years:

"These folks just want handouts and they feel entitled to all make $250,000/year!""

thats not what clintonites said. They said the changes to industry were inevitable and that it was necessary to find polices to deal with it. They were correct. Its unfortunate we lost sight of that for 8 years and its fortunate that Obama returned to it, in some ways more effectively than Clinton.

"Again, nobody is arguing any young person should be able to live cheaply in any part of the city, that's a strawman. Same as Walker asserting I believe $900,000 condos will exist in Brookland next year."

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 4:37 pm • linkreport

4. NYC draws a lot of people just because its NYC. I still have trouble seeing DC do that.

At least from my limited perspective, DC absolutely has that kind of cache now. It's all either NYC or DC now for anyone east of Indiana. People know this is where the jobs, culture, and power is, and they follow that. Many of them end up in the suburbs, but there's still a ton who move into DC.

by MJB on Jul 23, 2013 4:37 pm • linkreport

Corey,

I think the evidence is there that cultural elements like that just disperse.

See: most of the new NYC music is now coming out of brooklyn. In DC there are plenty of bands but the members are living/playing in va and md. Or bands live in baltimore and make the drive for shows in DC. That said, the focus on "technocrats" is a bit misplaced. It's already expensive (and thus less "cultural") but the technocrats are those with solutions to the affordability problem.

Matt Yglesias has a fairly good argument.

http://dailycaller.com/2013/07/15/why-does-slates-matt-yglesias-keep-publishing-the-private-information-of-daily-caller-reporters/

by drumz on Jul 23, 2013 4:38 pm • linkreport

"Yeah but that's what was being said ten years ago, and look how it's all turned out? I'm telling you, when even Brookland is transforming the way it is, there's enough steam to roll over EOTR and all of Ward 5, too. "

this is what you said. I took that as Brookland going the way of Logan Circle. I do not think Brookland getting somewhat pricier means EOTR will be steam rollered - although its hard to tell since Im not sure how you defined steam rollered.

it would be easier to discuss this if you used some numbers. I dont know if steam rollered means 700k condos, or 450k SFHs.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 4:39 pm • linkreport

Holy crap that's the wrong link.

This one,

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/06/25/austin_growth_and_weirdness.html

Sorry, the other one came up in my googling and i was intrigued. Don't worry. It's incredibly stupid.

by drumz on Jul 23, 2013 4:39 pm • linkreport

@ AWalkerInTheCity "logan circle is NOT a walkable area, accessible to the employment center of DC by a 30 minute metro ride.

Logan circle is a 30 minute WALK to the employment center of DC."

But, um...... are you saying that Logan's Circle is an urban planning failure then? Seems to be setting the bar rather high.

by Chris S. on Jul 23, 2013 4:40 pm • linkreport

"At least from my limited perspective, DC absolutely has that kind of cache now. It's all either NYC or DC now for anyone east of Indiana. People know this is where the jobs, culture, and power is, and they follow that. Many of them end up in the suburbs, but there's still a ton who move into DC."

jobs yes. Culture? I bet there are more folks who avoid it for that.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 4:41 pm • linkreport

I might get trashed for this, but I don't think Chuck Brown or Dismemberment Plan (though I might have been briefly obsessed with The Ice of Boston) are all that stellar. DC is a Federal City and it's probably what we'll be mostly known for into the foreseeable future.

by Alan B. on Jul 23, 2013 4:42 pm • linkreport

This entire thread reminds me of the frequent teeth knashing conversations I hear the "youngins" (25-30 year olds) have who work at my company about being "priced out".

I know the Rockwellian view is for people to graduate highschool, go to college and buy a house to start your life in. Not to bash, but that was never true or realistic in urban setting, except for a few economically undesirable places like the District of Columbia 1968-1998.

These "kids" in my office spend far too much time worrying about what they don't have, and expect far too much at such a young age. My recommendation? Relax. You think you are "priced out" now, or that you will be chasing affordable neighborhoods for the rest of your life, but most who've prepared themselves moderately well will make more money as the years go by, they will pair up and will become a two income couple (which is really how most of us afford to live where we afford to live anyway).

Usually I just get razor like, exasperated stares of annoyance. I just chalk it up to the internet generation seemingly wanting everything in life by the age of 27-30. I didn't get to the point in my life where I felt like I had everything I wanted, and made the money I "wanted" to make until I was 45.

by CapHill on Jul 23, 2013 4:44 pm • linkreport

"What I'm arguing is that points west of North Capitol should serve as a bellwether for the rest of the city. But feel free to continue gnashing your teeth over the idea of 'all these entitled whippersnappers thinking they deserve to live in Logan Circle!'"

there are places west of north capital that are far from gentrified, esp as you go north up to Petworth and beyond.

and the bellweather I see in upper NW, is that apts get less desirable as they age. Thats why places in upper NW which is still the area in DC with the lowest crime rates are as relatively affordable as they are. They are held up in price because the lack of new units esp from 1970 to 2000 meant not many other older units to compete. once the new units in Col Heights, H Street, Cap Riverfront, etc age, that may well lower rents in upper NW.

Again, bellweather is nice DCish rhetoric, but I dont think the math adds up.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 4:45 pm • linkreport

And just in general. DC has a very strong indie-rock scene and hip hop as well, hardcore is thriving as well, shows and small clubs are just likely to be a little furhter out (like where the more affordable housing is!). Go go is still played on the main hip hop stations as well. FWIW, I never knew about go go until I moved up here. That's a net positive for the culture around go-go.

by drumz on Jul 23, 2013 4:45 pm • linkreport

@Walker

My unscientific analysis is that you'll be seeing those houses near 12th St NE in Brookland going for $800,000-$1 million before the end of the decade. If the Whole Foods goes in that new development next to Brookland-CUA Metro, the sky's the limit.

EOTR is harder to judge, but I wouldn't be surprised if we see $500,000 condos along the Metro lines there around 2020.

If those prices seem crazy high to you, just think about where we were ten years ago, and ten years before that.

by MJB on Jul 23, 2013 4:47 pm • linkreport

@MJB
What I'm arguing is that points west of North Capitol should serve as a bellwether for the rest of the city.

Well duh, that's why lots of us here think that the city should be building more housing in the places where people want to live, so that the advancement of people being priced out is slower.

I'm not sure what you're arguing with. The big problem 14th street has is that it's "affordability," when it had it, was due mostly to the fact that there was nothing there, nothing to draw people there, and crime was high. There is no way to stop a place that is within walking distance of a zillion high-paying jobs at "affordable."

If your argument is just a warning like "eventually, there won't be any affordable low-density desirable SFH (rowhouse or detached) neighborhoods where you can take a 20-minute Metro ride and be at work!" then I agree with you. But there's not much that's going to change that because in the end preserving that is basically impossible with local policies. Only huge things like reducing income inequality (which I am for, through higher taxes at the top), massive national investment in combating poverty and better schools etc is going to solve that problem in the long run.

by MLD on Jul 23, 2013 4:48 pm • linkreport

@MJB:

Who is doing this, Oboe? The strawman you keep in your back pocket? I'm 6'5" with crazy eyes, I've never been mugged, and I'm more likely to socialize with the type of folks you would probably cross the street to avoid than anybody doing yoga and drinking $15 cocktails.

I think we're arguing at cross-purposes. It's clear you're concerned that the entirety of DC is going to look exactly like the 14th Street corridor. But what I'm hearing from a lot of folks is that it's unfair that prices have precluded them from buying at 14th Street. Or U. Or H. And my point is that there are numerous neighborhoods in DC where houses are on the market today, are relatively inexpensive, and where you can buy a house in DC for less than most people are renting. Certainly for less money than you'd spend in most of the suburbs.

The trade-off? The neighborhood is less safe (though significantly safer than any neighborhood in DC during the 90s). And you can't walk to The Black Cat in 4 minutes.

It may not apply to you personally, but you can't really believe that the profile of the person looking to buy in DC who won't consider anyplace outside of NW because "it's dangerous" is "a strawman".

by oboe on Jul 23, 2013 4:53 pm • linkreport

@Walker

"and the bellweather I see in upper NW, is that apts get less desirable as they age. Thats why places in upper NW which is still the area in DC with the lowest crime rates are as relatively affordable as they are. They are held up in price because the lack of new units esp from 1970 to 2000 meant not many other older units to compete. once the new units in Col Heights, H Street, Cap Riverfront, etc age, that may well lower rents in upper NW."

Your mouth to God's ears!

This is what I'm worried about: the developers will take these places, remodel/renovate them, and turn them out at unaffordable prices again. Now, this is not nearly as much of a certainty in my mind as the roll of gentrification to areas that are affordable now, but the cynic in me sees this as all-too-probable as long as DC remains the second-most desirable city in the East.

@CapHill

If you're telling me I have to wait until I'm 45 to be able to buy a home (be it a condo or a SFH or what-have-you), then don't be surprised if I give you razorblade stares.

by MJB on Jul 23, 2013 4:57 pm • linkreport

Doesn't have to be NW, but I certainly wouldn't buy somewhere unless I was sure the crime rates were low. That's kind of an order qualifier.

by Chris S. on Jul 23, 2013 5:03 pm • linkreport

@MJB
This is what I'm worried about: the developers will take these places, remodel/renovate them, and turn them out at unaffordable prices again.

This will happen unless we build enough housing to accommodate the number of people who want to live in DC.

If you're telling me I have to wait until I'm 45 to be able to buy a home (be it a condo or a SFH or what-have-you), then don't be surprised if I give you razorblade stares.

I think you need to try more reading comprehension and less making enemies with everyone who doesn't say exactly what you want them to say. You're reading way too far into what he wrote.

by MLD on Jul 23, 2013 5:05 pm • linkreport

MJB,

I didn't say you had to wait till 45. I said I was 45 when I finally had what I wanted, the house I wanted and in the location I wanted etc.

I lived in a shitty one bedroom coop from 29-35 which is all I could afford, then all I could afford was the ~300K for the townhouse on the hill. Then I got married and "our income" doubled, a few years later I started my own business and our income doubled again a couple years later so like I said, 45 was my magic number.

But it seems you want to skip right to the finish line and get the ~ 2 million dollar historic Logan Circle brown stone now. Like I said, relax. It will come eventually, and it certainly isn't indicative of a larger societal problem that you can't afford to buy the house you want, in the specific location you want, at your age. Had that been the case, I would have had that house with a yard in Cleveland Park that I wanted at the age of 25, and not 45.

by CapHill on Jul 23, 2013 5:06 pm • linkreport

BOOM there it is! Contempt for my generation because we weren't fortunate enough to be born at the right time. Very nice. I should hope your own children have as many "opportunities" as the Millenials. Seriously, I'm in my mid-twenties. Was I supposed to buy a house at age 14?

Of course, my daughter will be living in an industrial loft in Baltimore and taking the 15 min HSR trip down to DC for work. And cursing all the fifty somethings like yourself living the high life out in that hipster meccah of Lamond-Riggs.

by oboe on Jul 23, 2013 5:08 pm • linkreport

But it seems you want to skip right to the finish line and get the ~ 2 million dollar historic Logan Circle brown stone now.

Ok, that's it, I give up. I keep trying to speak to the trend of city-wide gentrification, but y'all wanna keep going back to the tiresome "damn kids are entitled, it's good that the riffraff is gone" train of thought.

You win, I want a mansion RIGHT NOW, and I think they're be palatial estates in Anacostia in 2015.

by MJB on Jul 23, 2013 5:11 pm • linkreport

My unscientific analysis is that you'll be seeing those houses near 12th St NE in Brookland going for $800,000-$1 million before the end of the decade

Possibly, though Brookland has been "the next Big Thing" since at least 2005.

by oboe on Jul 23, 2013 5:11 pm • linkreport

On another level, I think it's really telling that DC's few interesting cultural movements - go-go and the post-punk movement in the 90s come to mind - emerged from a low-price, pre-gentrification equilibrium.

Ian Mackaye and the Dischord gang all lived in Arlington because they couldn't find anyplace suitable (i.e. safe) to live in DC.

by oboe on Jul 23, 2013 5:12 pm • linkreport

@MJB
You win, I want a mansion RIGHT NOW, and I think they're be palatial estates in Anacostia in 2015.

Maybe you need to be more clear about what it is you want then, because all I'm seeing from you is "I can't get what I want" and "I'm worried the entire city is going to be gentrified."

Be specific if you don't want people to put words in your mouth. Also I am under 30 and do not own a home.

by MLD on Jul 23, 2013 5:19 pm • linkreport

Ian Mackaye and the Dischord gang all lived in Arlington because they couldn't find anyplace suitable (i.e. safe) to live in DC.

And Arlington at the time was far from gentrified. That was the era of Weird Clarendon, etc.

by Corey on Jul 23, 2013 5:20 pm • linkreport

MJB arithmetic

MJB - are you suggesting we were better off when the poor were mostly concentrated in center cities? There is some evidence that the poor are no worse off, or even better off, when they move to the suburbs. Even PG county today has a much lower crime rate than DC did in the 80s say. They generally have access to better schools. And they live in places at least as integrated in race and class as DC used to be.

and DC manages to not only then provide housing to affluent people but to more people total than before.

I think thats a positive, and one does not have to consider poor people riff raff to believe that.

and of course if you DON'T consider them riff raff, then there are of course lots of neighborhoods that are very affordable, right now.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 5:21 pm • linkreport

disregard the first line of my last post

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 5:24 pm • linkreport

People in a position to buy 20 years ago did actually have an advantage that has disappeared today: The Metro system was new, people could get in on the ground floor and ride the wave of appreciation based on a billion-dollar asset they didn't pay for. It doesn't help that DC's zoning and approval process allows them to arbitrarily constrict the supply of housing to increase the value of the housing they own. Nor does it help that he height limit distorts people's perception of building heights to the point where some will risibly claim that an eight-storey building is a
"whale", good grief.

by Steve S. on Jul 23, 2013 5:34 pm • linkreport

Hey, thanks -- I actually wondered "what does 14th&You think?" when I saw the Post piece. Having lived through a few cycles of gentrification induced neighborhood nostalgia, I can relate: it's great to have a situation where both you and your neighborhood are in a good place together, but you rarely know that harmony exists until after it's gone.

I remember first walking down 14th Street in 2003 when the Congress for the New Urbanism was held here and feeling like the street was far from prime time. Gentrification moves super-fast here: unlike in other cities, where those with cultural capital (artists) move in and get displaced by those with physical capital (bankers), here those two groups are one and the same (lawyers).

Incidentally, glad the Post computed the amount of new development there. With almost every soft site spoken for, 14th demonstrates the upper limit of redevelopment capacity under the current land-use regime. That intensity of development isn't likely to occur in many other locations (the transportation capacity isn't as high elsewhere) but again, 1,000 units is a drop in the bucket for the city and region as a whole.

by Payton on Jul 23, 2013 6:00 pm • linkreport

"People in a position to buy 20 years ago did actually have an advantage that has disappeared today: The Metro system was new, people could get in on the ground floor and ride the wave of appreciation based on a billion-dollar asset they didn't pay for."

Hold on a sec. Metro rail system dates to the 70s. By the 90s the system was pretty much a known quantity. People buying in 14th 20 years ago benefitted from the Metro in the same extent that people buying today in Amacostia do.

by oboe on Jul 23, 2013 6:25 pm • linkreport

Dupont, Logan and Capitol Hill were brought back by urban homesteaders beginning in the 60's, much as Georgetown was in the 50's. We bought empty shells that had no roofs, no usable wiring or plumbing, and usually no heat. We learned how to replace joists, to do copper plumbing, and some even did their own wiring. Certainly doing drywall or plaster repair and cabinet work, including installing sinks, was usually done by the young people then. Shells in 1975 were $25K, and involved about $75K of work, even with the owner doing much themselves.

And most people thought we were absolutely crazy for spending so much money and effort in such a high crime blighted area. Especially after many of us had numerous break-ins, armed robberies, and some of us murders of close ones. But slowly empty shell by empty shell the neighborhoods came back and slowly drug dealer by drug dealer and thug by thug was convinced to stay away. The sweat and the blood gave us an appreciation of our neighborhood that's hard to explain.

The parts of DC that young people are moving into to renovate today have delapidated but livable houses and a halfway decent police force. While there's plenty of work to do in them and plenty of crime to be rid of, it's not exactly the same as what we went through. And it's the reason there's new developments here today. The developers and businesses didn't come first, they followed the hard renovation the young homesteaders did.

by Tom Coumaris on Jul 23, 2013 6:59 pm • linkreport

If you think "the prices started rising [on condos], and haven't stopped since," then you haven't owned a condo in Logan Circle like I have. Yes, we weren't hit to the extent others were in the housing crash, but we were most certainly hit.

by Matt R on Jul 23, 2013 7:34 pm • linkreport

But slowly empty shell by empty shell the neighborhoods came back and slowly drug dealer by drug dealer and thug by thug was convinced to stay away.

What you are describing is called gentrification.

by Scoot on Jul 23, 2013 8:55 pm • linkreport

My last time in that area I noticed the Central Union Mission shelter on 14th and R was relocating. Not surprising I guess.

MOVE Q & A
Why is Central Union Mission Moving?
Central Union Mission is returning to the heart of the city. The District’s oldest social service agency began serving the poor in 1884. With the expansion of the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority in the early ‘80s, the Mission was displaced from its location downtown through eminent domain and relocated to 1350 R Street, NW, right on the corner of 14th and R Streets. Recent efforts to revitalize the R Street neighborhood have forced many people in need out of the area. Dedicated to helping those often overlooked and neglected by society, Central Union Mission is returning to the area in greatest need of a shelter for homeless people.

Why is the Mission moving now?
Our current facility at 1350 R Street, NW has been sold. The developers are ready to begin work on a facility that will bring more amenities to the 14th Street corridor.

by Chris T. on Jul 23, 2013 9:31 pm • linkreport

@17th St, goldfish, Chris S.: "14th St represents an enormous increase in supply over the last 10-15 years, and we see where affordability has gone."

Housing supply does not induce its own demand, but it does induce better urban amenities (e.g., restaurants), which in turn can induce housing demand. The intermediary step there is absolutely crucial, and it's disingenuous to ignore that mechanism. Humans understand zero-sum games very well; they do not understand feedback loops very well, and this is a clear example of a "virtuous cycle."

Let's say I opened hm, a cupcake shop. It does ok, then better through word of mouth and some local media. I expand the shop with more locations, more people come, and then the word of mouth draws a TV show. Now the lines are out the door. Which event in this chain led to that outcome? "Expand the shop," or "draws a TV show"?

Note, for instance, that the neighborhood's prices "popped" before a whole lot more housing density came on line -- it just happened to be very centrally located. (Even looking back to 2003, you would be hard pressed to find a similarly disinvested ) The latest generation of construction is by far the largest, and nobody has even moved into the new apartments yet. So empty apartments have caused gentrification?

The story of 14th is one that bears out the high premium that people will pay for a high Walk Score, and to be within walking distance of the second largest job center in America. (Yes, behind only Midtown Manhattan.) Which is why I am utterly baffled at the way the curmudgeons around me in Southwest grouse and grumble about how new development will *hurt* their property values. Heck, prices in my building just beat inflation from 1966-2009. It is absolutely not the case that a "trend of city-wide gentrification" will eliminate any semblance of affordability in just a few years. There is a lot of catch-up that is necessary first.

by Payton on Jul 23, 2013 10:18 pm • linkreport

to complete the incomplete thought...disinvested area so close to both a major downtown and already gentrified neighborhoods.)

by Payton on Jul 23, 2013 10:20 pm • linkreport

I have to admit, I find this article a bit strange, but the comments downright bizarre and really ungrounded in facts. When we bought our house in this neighborhood, a little over a decade ago, things were very uncertain. Fresh Fields (later, Whole Foods) was being built, but it was really unclear if that was going to make the difference. Plenty of people in the area had been holding on for years waiting for the neighborhood to "turn the corner" and had given up hope. Literally every other house on my block has been owned by the current occupant for over 15 years. Yes, the transformation has been abrupt over the last 5 years, but it was an awful long time coming for those folks. None of them have been forced out, their perserverence has just finally paid off. I think their feeling is generally that the change has been "wonderful" (though parking has gotten tougher).

We're raising kids in the neighborhood, schools are improving, and I see more kids all the time. I just don't see the downside. When we bought our house on 15th, you could buy an equivalent place on 11th or 12th for 1/3 the price and now those places have jumped in value. And the cycle repeats. In another few years, Brookland or CH will be the new unaffordable area and the residents who were lucky enough to be in ahead of the boom will the reviled "trust funders" who are pushing the authentic people out.

Never mind there's no actual evidence that people are being displaced. I generally find stuff on this site to be much more empirical than this.

by Dcmike on Jul 24, 2013 12:36 am • linkreport

Is a big French restaurant moving into a location once occupied with a decrepit dry cleaners really "gentrification"? How can it not be better even if someone would prefer an open air food market or something to that effect. Nothing anywhere is ever wonderful, at least not for fifty years and a certain level of maturation. This article focuses on some known points but it doesn't really grab the zeitgeist. Maybe I'll read it again.

by Ben on Jul 24, 2013 7:37 am • linkreport

@Payton: Humans understand zero-sum games very well; they do not understand feedback loops very well, and this is a clear example of a "virtuous cycle."

THANKS, and thanks again, and thanks again! I am *so* glad somebody understand what I was talking about.

The simple linear relationship between intemporal supply and demand that everyone LOVES to think fully describe everything does not adequately account for the *time* behavior of this market, which is in the boom phase after a long bust phase. It is a 2nd order system: a time lag from the lead time to build new housing, that is an underdamped system.

Now if we only could apply control theory to smooth it out.

by goldfish on Jul 24, 2013 9:28 am • linkreport

Payton- A good portion of the new buildings on 14th are occupied. The District at 14th and S has 125 units and is almost full and most of the ones around 14th and W are occupied. At least at the District rents are in the $3K-$4.4K+ range. It has absolutely exerted an upward pressure on nearby rents.

Scoot- The early homesteaders in the '70's may have been much better educated than most but were young and had lower incomes; that's why many did most of their own renovation. Sleeping on the first floor because rain poured through the 2nd and spending weekends doing plumbing and roof repairs probably doesn't fit the definition of "gentry". "Turn-key" renovations sold by developers didn't really start until 1980. And because of the long '80's recession many who bought those turn-key rehabs lost money if they had to sell.

by Tom Coumaris on Jul 24, 2013 9:58 am • linkreport

This is in large part the cycle of history of neighborhoods in the city. Take the more so-called "established" neighborhoods, for example, Cleveland Park. While that area never experienced the scars of the riots near U St. or "urban renewal" of SW,in the 60s it was a bit of a bulwark against middle class flight to the suburbs. Many of the houses were a bit rundown, but it became popular with scientists, government attorneys, writers and other younger professionals for good housing values in a relatively close in neighborhood. Group houses were very common. People grew vegetables in their front yards. A former foreign service officer turned chimney-sweep used an old hearse as his vehicle of trade (and parked it in front). While crime was lower, residents had to fight off the highways that were proposed on three sides of the neighborhood and endure DC's decline when so many other middle class families fled to the suburbs. These experiences probably grounded the neighborhood's long tradition of civic activism.

by Alf on Jul 24, 2013 10:18 am • linkreport

what other neighborhoods are left that are less than a mile walk from the stretch of K Street between 9th and 18th? West End, DuPont became exclusive before Logan. Mt Vernon Square and NoMa are already getting there (but I guess still somewhat cheaper than Logan)

I would suggest SW EcoDistrict has tremendous potential for residential. And maybe the Wharf. Beyond that, I think we're done with areas with this kind of proximity.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 24, 2013 10:23 am • linkreport

This reminds me of the old line from Yogi Bera, "That place is so crowded, nobody goes there anymore." I live close to 14th, in Shaw, but I usually go over to places on 17th Street because you can actually GET a table without a reservation on a Saturday night.

Also, I have long wondered about all the new condo not just along 14th, but in most areas of the city. Most of these are small studios and small one bedrooms, and I think we are setting ourselves up for a very transient type of occupant. Not many people are going to live for more than a few years on a stuidio or a one-bedroom condo or apartment.

by JOHN HINES on Jul 24, 2013 10:24 am • linkreport

what other neighborhoods are left that are less than a mile walk from the stretch of K Street between 9th and 18th?

Bloomingdale, Truxton, Eckington; all still very affordable.

by goldfish on Jul 24, 2013 10:28 am • linkreport

what other neighborhoods are left that are less than a mile walk from the stretch of K Street between 9th and 18th?

Bloomingdale, Truxton, Eckington; all still very affordable.

Gee I think people would love it Bloomingdale and Eckington were actually a mile away from there. You do live in DC right?

by Scoot on Jul 24, 2013 11:39 am • linkreport

from the very southern end of Bloomingdale, the very eastern end of the part of K Street I specified (9th) google maps estimates a 1.1 mile walk. That assumes you are willing to walk down New York Avenue, I think.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 24, 2013 11:51 am • linkreport

Wow, why is everyone giving this guy so much s%*#? He is right on with every comment except that the decline in DC's population continued and escalated during the 1980's drug wars and record homicides under that incompetent to the 9th degree Mayor we had then. The slide did not halt till the later 1/2 of the 1990's.

What he fails to mention is DC has the highest percentage of renter / population in the nation with "home ownership" by "owner occupied" homes very low. So, whether it is an apartment or house, there is something like a 70% chance it is renters living there and so what... DC has a government change every 4 years and many other jobs change more frequently so 14th St. reflects that reality.

I would say one thing: Developers are greedy, ignorant, and they are all shooting themselves in the foot by not coordinating the kind of retail that goes in here. Where is the DC government? If you ask me Harriet Tregoning is asleep at the wheel. Every apartment complex with X number of units, say 200+ should be REQUIRED to have set aside playgrounds and child care areas built into the developments so people who decide to stay in the city don't have to trek blocks to find a place for their child to play!! She and DC Government talk about improving "schools" but communities are what need planning and improving, not just "schools". The developers are just self interested and if they can get $60/ft for some French Bistro/high end restaurant they will do it over and over. Thing is, if nobody is paying attention, soon you have to many of these establishments and all of them end up being night clubs to sell enough alcohol to pay the rent and they you get... Adams Morgan. The folks who are building these multi-unit apartments are making plenty of money "upstairs" and should structure rent deals to get amenities here. Where are the non-food retail going to go at $60/ft in rent?

Anyway, that is my take and I live in the neighborhood and have seen this place since my Source Theater Membership days in the late 1980's.

by Pholosophy on Jul 24, 2013 11:52 am • linkreport

from the very southern end of Bloomingdale, the very eastern end of the part of K Street I specified (9th) google maps estimates a 1.1 mile walk. That assumes you are willing to walk down New York Avenue, I think.

It also assumes you live on the very southern end of Bloomingdale and are traveling to the very eastern end of K street at 9th St and are trying to make a strange point about how close the two neighborhoods are.

I guess these are the types of conversations that make a comment thread 190 posts long.

by Scoot on Jul 24, 2013 11:59 am • linkreport

All I see when I look at La Diplomate is the old cleaners who used to do shirts for $.89...very sad.
Obviously the speed with which the 7, 8, and 9 story buildings that make the neighborhood look like Clarendon have gone up quickly. But the neighborhood has been gaining steam for at least 15 years. Like almost every area near downtown rents have been climbing steadily since the late '90s. The joy of getting a nice 1 BR apartment in Logan for $650 a month back in 2000 is long gone, and with it those that could not afford to pay much more.
Like anyone who has refused to join the land rush for 400 sq ft studios for $250K--ha, that was SO 10 years ago--the solution is obvious: keep looking east. Shaw is long gone; Bloomingdale too; Woodridge is almost done. Next stop, Deanwood. Yep, the whole city west of the river will be unaffordable for anyone making under $60K. Wonderful!? Progress!? Hell no.

by Mario on Jul 24, 2013 12:01 pm • linkreport

Auto-Claredon defense response: You can complain about the architectural quality of Clarendon but the fact is it's one of the busier areas of the region at all hours. Many DC neigborhoods in DC and abroad would kill to have the kind of activity/retail diversity that Clarendon has.

Also I'm not so sure you can find a 650$ apartment anywhere between Richmond and Baltimore. Unless its someone's basement with a kitchinette.

by drumz on Jul 24, 2013 12:09 pm • linkreport

@Scoot: It also assumes you live on the very southern end of Bloomingdale and are traveling to the very eastern end of K street at 9th St and are trying to make a strange point about how close the two neighborhoods are.

The gist of the question was, what are the affordable neighborhoods that are about the same distance to the job centers on K St as is Columbia Heights? Note well that 14th St and Columbia Heights also covers an area, and some of it is further than a mile away from the relevant parts of K St.

Eckington is past the edge of swankyville. Definitely lower priced housing to be had there, within walking distance of most of downtown, and also with very good Metro access.

by goldfish on Jul 24, 2013 12:14 pm • linkreport

Yep, the whole city west of the river will be unaffordable for anyone making under $60K. Wonderful!? Progress!? Hell no.

Which is why having some moderate percentage of affordable housing set-asides at all incomes below AMI is important. But, again, that DC was a completely dysfunctional, falling-apart city for 40 or so years was an accident of history.

"Ensuring that anyone who wants to can live in Neighborhood X" is not a achievable public policy goal. Nor should it be. We should work towards the goal of a reasonable socioeconomic profile of DC residents. With the right mix of policy, that means we won't with uniformly wealthy households a la Potomac or Loudon County. But that also means that not everyone making under $60k a year is going to be able to afford to live in DC.

by oboe on Jul 24, 2013 12:23 pm • linkreport

"The gist of the question was, what are the affordable neighborhoods that are about the same distance to the job centers on K St as is Columbia Heights?"

that was not my question. It was, which are a shorter than one mile walk to the job centers on K street. What I did not say, but thought was obvious was "as the Logan Circle are along 14th street discussed in the above post and in the WaPo article are"

Columbia Heights, AFAICT, is not equivalent to Logan in rents, prices, vibe, etc. IMO, it will always sell/rent a a discount to Logan, because its a longer walk to the said employment centers (and due to the hill, its also a more challenging bike ride) and is thus more dependent on metro rail. which even if it improves vastly on quality of service, still is less desirable than walking to many, and for those who do prefer metro to walking, there are many more alternatives.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 24, 2013 12:24 pm • linkreport

"Eckington is past the edge of swankyville. Definitely lower priced housing to be had there, within walking distance of most of downtown, and also with very good Metro access."

Again, from the very SW corner of Eckington, to the eastern end of the K Street center (@ 9th street) thats 1.1 miles. Ergo, farther than the farthest parts of Logan Circle. As for metro, there are many choices for metro served WUPs - what makes an area like Logan unique (along with DuPont, and maybe someday Truxton) is that one can walk (under a mile) and not use the metro.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 24, 2013 12:28 pm • linkreport

Thanks for the insightful article and loved your previous blog. I too feel very uncomfortable with the level of change, at times for the worse. Expensive restaurants, services and condos. A playground for the upper middle class suburban and urban set. Where will the starving artists, the immigrant small businesses, the musicians and punks go? I shudder every time I go through that area. The new class of people have every right to be there, but I also have a right to shake my head.

by Ralp on Jul 24, 2013 1:36 pm • linkreport

@ Payton "The story of 14th is one that bears out the high premium that people will pay for a high Walk Score, and to be within walking distance of the second largest job center in America."

Again, this to me calls into question the dream that in the future every Tom, Dick and Harry can affordably live within walking distance of great employment, entertainment, eating, and school options. There is simply a finite number of 14th Street-type places out there. You can create more, but I doubt you can build enough that everyone ends up living within a few blocks of one.

Seems to me at the very least Harry might need to live further out and commute. Although not by car of course, because parking will be plenty pricey by then.

by Chris S. on Jul 24, 2013 1:39 pm • linkreport

People act like this all happened over night. We all held out high hopes when Fresh Fields opened in 2001. However, progress was slow to catch on…Logan Tavern opened, then CVS. Then Alberto’s Pizza closed because they couldn’t wait any longer for the (ack) gentrification. Then a few more places opened some stayed (Rice & Caribou Coffee), some didn’t Reincarnations, Mar de Plata, Candida’s World of Books, HR57, ACKC, 100% Mexico, etc. This gentrification was only a trickle 10-12 years ago and has picked up and lost steam over that time. Vacant lots have been filled in and vacant and/or underutilized buildings that had been sitting in disrepair since the riots in 1968 were brought back to life. Gone are businesses with bulletproof windows, Signs that state "DO NOT URINATE HERE, VIOLATORS WILL BEARRESTED.", rat-infested lots, open air drug markets and prostitutes. I enjoy the local restaurants, bars and choices. Yes, I would love to see a few more reasonable to eat or shop like a diner or bodega...maybe in time. Additionally, I am always amazed at the amount of foot traffic in the neighborhood on weeknights and weekends. The neighborhood is vibrant! The other thing that really agitates me is the victimization of the Central Union Mission as a result of this gentrification. The mission sold its 3 property’s for roughly $5.2 MILLION!! That money is creating a newly renovated, state of the art, full service shelter in the Gales School which they will lease from the city for $1.00/year. You’ll forgive me for seeing this as a win-win-win situation for the Shelter-Homeless-and (god forbid) the residents of the 14th Street corridor. I’ll take the inability to easily find a parking spot 1 block from my home and go 2 blocks away any day to never go back to where Logan Circle was 20 years ago. There is only one way to look at this gentrification and that is without a doubt, an unequivocal WONDERFUL!

by LoganDavid on Jul 24, 2013 2:01 pm • linkreport

Eckington is past the edge of swankyville. Definitely lower priced housing to be had there, within walking distance of most of downtown, and also with very good Metro access

I guess 45 minute walk is the new standard for "walking distance"?

Would you walk 45 minutes to work each day?

by Scoot on Jul 24, 2013 2:23 pm • linkreport

"Again, this to me calls into question the dream that in the future every Tom, Dick and Harry can affordably live within walking distance of great employment, entertainment, eating, and school options. There is simply a finite number of 14th Street-type places out there. You can create more, but I doubt you can build enough that everyone ends up living within a few blocks of one."

and again, whether thats true or not, isnt something you can get from this article. As I tried to point out there is a very limited number acres within walking distance the principle employment center of the region. For Tom to live within walking distance of K and 14th NW, Tom will need to be quite affluent indeed. Dick on the other hand, who is willing to put up with 45 minute or longer commute on metrorail, commuter rail, or express bus, will have a much wider range of options. Harry who doesn't want to live in a WUP (and we all acknowledge that many won't) will be able to drive from his cul de sac to a transit park and ride - or he can drive and pay market rates for parking. Of course there is a pretty good chance that harry will choose to work at a suburban workplace instead, where parking is easier. And sally, who likes WUPs, but happens to have a job in the suburbs, may be able to get a walk to work without paying a Logan Circle price - if she works in RTC or in Ballston or Crystal City she alreadly can do that, and in the very near future that will be viable if she works in Tysons Corner. And her sister Mary who works in DC, but not on K Street will have similar options - if she works at DHS she will be able to walk from a quite affordable place in Congress Heights, if she works in NavyYard/CapitolRiverfront she can pay the expensive (but cheaper than Logan) prices for that area, go to Hill East, or venture into Historic Anacostia for housing.

Seems to me at the very least Harry might need to live further out and commute. Although not by car of course, because parking will be plenty pricey by then.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 24, 2013 2:27 pm • linkreport

"Would you walk 45 minutes to work each day?"

Well I certainly would, but realistically such places will not command the premiums that places 20 minutes from the prime employment centers will.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 24, 2013 2:37 pm • linkreport

why walk 45mins any where when you can ride a bike in 15?

by Tina on Jul 24, 2013 2:44 pm • linkreport

It's always irksome to hear the Post and others mention "since the riots there". There were no riots on our part of 14th. The buildings that were leveled were mostly done by one individual developer who wanted to get rid of historic buildings before they could be protected. His parcels are where the big new block-long buildings are.

The reason Dupont/Logan is more appealing than some other areas just as convenient is that we have a character from the historic buildings. That includes the typical 14th St retrofit of historic buildings into 6 stories with good architecture. If we were just like NoMa or Crystal City we wouldn't be as desirable.

by Tom Coumaris on Jul 24, 2013 2:48 pm • linkreport

Tina

Well I was gonna mention biking, but the proportion of people willing to walk to work is almost certainly a lot higher than those willing to bike, and walking distance is still a better explanation of price premiums than biking distance, I think. But improving biking IS one way of expanding the viable distance for an "easy commute" lifestyle, as is unsucking metro.

Tom C - Undoubtedly historic architecture plays a role in the price premium. However NoMa will likely always command a premium over Crystal City, even if 1970s hi rise architecture comes back into fashion and millenial era hi rise architecture goes out of fashion - due to the walkability to more important employment centers.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 24, 2013 2:54 pm • linkreport

Where will the starving artists, the immigrant small businesses, the musicians and punks go?

DC has said time and time again that they do not want the kind of corner stores that would be opened by immigrants.

by JustMe on Jul 24, 2013 4:01 pm • linkreport

Interesting article. You mentioned that you and your wife lived in the area for 5 years but then couldn't afford to buy a larger place in the immediate area. Why didn't you look at townhouses a few blocks to the east or north? Places in Shaw all the way to North Capitol were going for a fraction of what they are today, $100-300,000 compared to $400-800+ just a few years later. This has been the case since Georgetown started to gentrify in the late 50s and the steady march westward interrupted by the 68 riots but soon to start up again in Dupont et.al. The one unique thing about that stretch of 14th is the speed of the recent changes though the direction was clear for many years.

by Stephen on Jul 24, 2013 4:02 pm • linkreport

why walk 45mins any where when you can ride a bike in 15?

Perhaps if you do not have access to a bike or simply don't want to ride one? Maybe it's too hot, too cold, raining, or snowing?

Anyway, Eckington is a pretty far walk from downtown.

Certainly much farther than from Logan Circle.

Anyone who doubts this is free to take the walk themselves (because clearly they haven't yet).

Luckily there a lot of public transit options from these neighborhoods that converge on downtown.

by Scoot on Jul 24, 2013 4:41 pm • linkreport

@Chris S.: As AWITC points out, Tom, Dick and Harry can in fact "affordably live within walking distance of great employment, entertainment, eating, and school options" -- just not all right downtown.* Tysons, Springfield, White Flint, College Park, etc. will all offer "life within walking distance," and at varying price points, too.

And again, Southwest Waterfront really hasn't appreciated much faster than inflation since it was built out in the 1960s. The feedback loop of better urban amenities never happened, since it wasn't dense enough and the area instead focused on suburban amenities (quiet, safety, golf, boating, road access) that get worse with increased population.

* at least not until the Height Act gets repealed: e.g., downtown Chicago has added 50,000 residents in the past 10 years, but prices really haven't changed at all since I was last shopping for a condo there 10 years ago.

by Payton on Jul 24, 2013 6:40 pm • linkreport

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