Posts about Gentrification
On the calendar: White Flint happy hour, Dupont buses, Potomac Ave, Bethesda sidewalk, gentrification and more
What are you doing this week? If you care about the future of the White Flint area, there's a happy hour Tuesday. If you care about gentrification in DC, you might enjoy a panel discussion in Anacostia Thursday.
If you care about bus service on 16th Street, sidewalks from Friendship Heights to Bethesda, or pedestrian and bike safety around Potomac Avenue Metro, there are local community meetings on important transportation projects tonight and Thursday. And take a tour of Frederick Douglass's Anacostia with John Muller Saturday.
Here are some highlights from the Greater Greater Washington calendar:
16th Street buses in Dupont: WMATA bus planner Jim Hamre will meet with residents about the performance of the S line, where many riders have to endure long waits during rush hour. That's not because the buses take a long time to come, but rather, full bus after full bus pass them by on this extremely popular line.
New Dupont ANC commissioner Kishan Putta organized the meeting, tonight (Monday), 7:30 pm at the JCC, 16th and Q (enter on Q Street). Residents are free to bring up concerns about other bus lines as well.
Sidewalk on Wisconsin Ave. in Bethesda: Maryland SHA wants to build a 6-foot sidewalk on the east side of Wisconsin Avenue between Friendship Heights and Bethesda. The Little Falls Watershed Alliance is opposing the sidewalk because it will require cutting down trees, but WABA wants to ensure there's a safe route for pedestrians and cyclists on this road.
There's a public meeting tonight (Monday), 7:30-9 pm at Somerset Town Hall, 4510 Cumberland Avenue, Chevy Chase, where SHA will present plans and hear from residents.
Friends of White Flint happy hour: On Tuesday, Friends of White Flint and the Coalition for Smarter Growth are having a happy hour to talk about how to make the suburbs "hip," or much more than "hip."
The happy hour starts at 5:30pm at Seasons 52, 11414 Rockville Pike, a short walk from the White Flint Metro station. Councilmembers Hans Riemer and Roger Berliner will be there; RSVP here.
The meeting is Thursday, January 31, 6:30-8:30pm at Payne Elementary, 1445 C Street, SE.
Does redevelopment mean gentrification? River East Emerging Leaders (r.e.e.l.) is convening a panel discussion on the positive and negative effects of redevelopment, and lessons learned for the future.
The panel will include NBC's Tom Sherwood, planning head Harriet Tregoning, Clinton Yates of the Washington Post, and a number of other community and city leaders. It's Thursday, January 31, 7 pm at the DHCD Community Room, 1800 Martin Luther King Avenue, SE in Anacostia. RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frederick Douglass's Anacostia: Greater Greater Washington contributor John Muller, who recently wrote a book about Frederick Douglass and his years in Anacostia, is giving a tour Saturday of the places Douglass frequented, including majestic views of the Capitol, and historical explanations of Douglass's life. The tour runs from 1-2:30 pm and costs $30.
MoveDC Idea Exchange: And don't forget, Saturday, February 9th is the big "Idea Exchange" for DDOT's moveDC citywide transportation plan. You can stop by the MLK Library for fun and even family-friendly interactive transportation booths anytime from 9:30-3.
An organized program begins at 10:30, including a panel discussion at 11 featuring PolicyLink's Anita Hairston, author Chris Leinberger, and Slate blogger Matthew Yglesias.
Have an event for the calendar? Post it in the comments or email it to email@example.com.
As development along Rhode Island Avenue and New York Avenue take shape over the next few years, much of DC's Ward 5 will see major changes. But can these changes draw new residents without displacing existing ones? A key element will be to preserve and expand the availability of affordable housing.
Last week, the Housing For All Campaign hosted a town hall meeting on housing in Ward 5. The meeting focused on how to keep existing residents and draw new ones as the housing landscape changes dramatically.
Fortunately, many organizations have had success developing affordable housing in Ward 5. One of the smallest is Open Arms Housing, which provides permanent housing and wrap-around services to 11 chronically homeless and mentally ill women.
Marilyn Kresky-Wolff is the Director of Open Arms, and she spoke at the Housing Town Hall about the success her program has had in the lives of these women: none of their residents have returned to homelessness. Two of the residents spoke about getting back on their feet and rebuilding their lives.
Open Arms Housing, like many other projects in Ward 5, have succeeded by paying attention to the needs of the community they serve. This was particularly important when they rehabilitated the 258 units at Edgewood Terrace VI, an extensive complex just across Rhode Island Avenue on 4th Street NE.
In the early 1990s, Edgewood Terrace served as one of the largest drug markets in Washington. Today it is a mixed income apartment community with on site services for residents including adult education, computer training, and day care programs for children. The key ingredient in the outstanding change was the commitment of the developers, Community Preservation and Development Corporation, to tenant engagement in every step of the revitalization process.
In 1995, when the Community Preservation and Development Corporation (CPDC) bought the first section of Edgewood Terrace from HUD, CPDC immediately sat down with tenant association leaders. The relationship between CPDC and the tenants resulted in renovated apartments, as well as common areas for youth programs, job training, computer classes, and community events.
With more people drawn to public spaces and a partnership between CPDC, the tenants, and the Metropolitan Police Department they were able to break up the drug trade. Residents who had once been afraid to venture outside after dark now had reclaimed their community.
Affordable housing developers continue to find solutions to meet the diverse housing needs of the community. Ward 5 residents can look forward to the opening of Metropolitan Overlook, a mixed income condominium on 2nd Street NE, just blocks off of Rhode Island Ave. Rehabbing a property that has sat vacant for 20 years, Metropolitan Overlook will be a 37-unit condominium with 11 permanently affordable units.
Ward 5 will continue to benefit from the investments in affordable housing that build vibrant spaces for current and future District residents.
Carry out restaurants have been part of the fabric of Washington for decades, prized for their low prices, speed and long hours. With menus that run on for pages and pages, many break norms, serving Chinese food, fried seafood and sandwiches under one roof.
And although development has brought in new restaurants and businesses along the U Street corridor, on 14th Street Northwest, and in Logan Circle, carry outs are holding on. Of the those listed on the popular user review site Yelp, at least 24 carry outs are still operating in Northwest.
"We've been here since 1968. I don't plan to go anywhere," said Henrietta Smith, who owns Henry's Soul Cafe on U Street.
Named for Smith's father, Henry Smith, the restaurant is famous for its stick-to-your-bones comfort food and sweet potato pie, which was profiled by The Washington Post in 2007. "Mr. Henry can't cook, so he had to have other people cook," Smith said. Her brothers own the store's 2 other locations, at the intersection of 4th and K Streets NW and in Oxon Hill, MD.
While she said that the new restaurants are competition for her business, Smith sees the changes on U Street as a good thing. "The neighborhood is more diverse now," Smith said. "You're dealing with all walks of life." She has been able to rely on a steady flow of regulars, who come to 17th and U from all over the DC area for her smothered pork chops, fried chicken and ribs. "You don't forget where home is," she said.
One of those customers is Darren Snell, 47. Snell has been coming to Henry's for 21 years, and said that not much has changed. "The meatloaf still tastes the same today as it did back then," he said.
Smith said that gentrification has made the area more diverse, which bodes well for Henry's prospects going forward. "The regulars are still coming and the newcomers are coming too," he said. "[Henry's] isn't going anywhere."
In Logan Circle, Chong Hu, 58, has no plans to close her business, The Carry Out Deli. Like Smith, Hu said that loyal customers have helped her stay afloat for the last 27 years.
Lily Pilgrim, 84, lives two blocks away from the Deli and stops by 2-3 times per week. "[It's] much better and cheaper than any other restaurant on P Street," she said.
Pilgrim is bullish on the Deli's chances of staying open. "[Hu] has the same customers over the years. They go out of their way to come here. It should be here for a long, long time," she said.
Hu sees both the pros and cons of development. As office buildings on 14th were replaced by condos in the last few years, the lunch crowd has died down dramatically, cutting into her profits. "My business is real slow," Hu said. "Now everyone goes to coffee shop."
But, on the positive side, there are "no more drunk people," Hu said. In the 1980s, "every day I called the police," she said. For her part, Pilgrim, who has lived in the area for 30 years, said that she used to avoid walking down 14th Street because it was too dangerous.
Brendon Miller, public affairs director for the city's department of small and local business development, said that new development does not automatically result in an outward flow of small businesses. "You've got small businesses that come in and you've got small businesses that depart. It's cyclical," he said.
And some small businesses, like Henry's and the Carry Out Deli, have reached "institution status," which helps them stay open in a changing landscape. "The business owners take the time to identify with the folks coming through the door, and to sort of cultivate repeat customers," he said. "It's got to attract people from the neighborhood."
A few carry outs have left the area for various reasons. Yum's, which used to sit at the intersection of 14th and Wallach streets NW, was recently demolished to make way for an upscale apartment building. It will reopen soon in Pleasant Plains, a neighborhood east of Columbia Heights. And the Mid City Deli, which neighbors The Carry Out Deli, closed its doors in June 2012.
City health inspectors have played a role in shutting down some carry outs, at least temporarily. Before becoming a hole in the ground, Yum's was cited for two health hazards and closed for a day. And in April, the Mid City Deli was closed twice for a variety of health hazards.
China Dragon Carry Out, which sits at the intersection of 11th and P Streets NW, was recently closed "for gross unsanitary conditions, operating without a license, [having] an improperly trained manager and failure to minimize insects."
Alicia Davis-Coates, 39, said that she looks for information about health inspection-related closings in the newspaper when deciding where to eat. Her carry out-of-choice is Yum's II on 14th Street. A resident of Fort Totten, Davis-Coates said that Yum's II is worth the drive.
"The food is fresher. You can actually see them make it," she said on a recent Friday night, take out bag in hand. "And they've never been shut down."
"Gentrification is a word urbanists and people in this area banter about," said former Mayor Anthony Williams at a panel discussion last night, "but neighborhoods are like children. They need attention differently."
No one size fits all. Williams said residents in Upper Northwest "just want services and not development." Meanwhile across the Anacostia River, the demand is for "critical government attention," like the big projects in the works at Saint Elizabeths and Skyland, or the recently-opened early childhood development center Educare in Parkside.
The DC Humanities Council organized the panel, which Washington City Paper editor Mike Madden moderated. Washington Post business reporter Jonathan O'Connell and Historic Preservation Review Board members Maria Casarella and Rauzia Ally joined Williams to discuss the role of public policy and economic development.
Is there a "Plan" to displace residents?
In 2003, when Williams was mayor, he set a goal of attracting 100,000 new residents over the following decade. A recent survey now shows the District is gaining people at a rate of a thousand a month.
Some in the audience expressed suspicions that this is part of a devious and covert plan to drive members of old Washington communities out of the city. Williams disputed the concept. "The notion that there is a plan may sound good, but it's crazy," he said, and noted that as mayor, he supported programs like the Housing Production Trust Fund to preserve affordable housing.
Offering a reality check of sorts for skeptics, O'Connell added, "Marion Barry is glad to sit down with developers." During Barry's mayoralty, "investments were made that were part of 'the plan'" such as building the Verizon Center downtown and the Reeves Center at 14th & U Streets in the mid-1980s.
"The value of real estate has more of an impact than policy," said O'Connell. "Apartments are being built on 14th Street not because of policy but because it is the best place to build apartments in the country." Williams consented that "the market moves faster than the city." From bike lanes to new neighborhood branch libraries, panelists and audience members agreed that public policy decisions and capital investments made years ago guide current trends.
Neighborhoods need to be involved in shaping growth
Neighborhood revitalization is at its best when residents can work with government to regenerate from within, argued Casarella. She cited the successful restoration of homes in historic Anacostia through the Office of Planning's Historic Homeowner Grant Program as an ideal example of a working partnership between the city and neighborhood residents to direct change instead of just reacting to it.
Commercial and residential development in designated historic neighborhoods passes through Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, which receive "great weight" at the final level of agency review, said Caserella. "You are the most important planner."
"When was the last time that ever mattered?" an audience member called out. "I have to dismiss your cynicism," Casarella said, reflecting the overall belief of the panel that Washington's active neighborhood level associations influence both planning and economic development.
"It is very hard to add green space later," O'Connell said, alluding to ongoing development in NoMA where "they missed planning a park." With development projects either in the early stages or waiting to break ground throughout Wards 7 and 8, O'Connell cautioned residents to remain vigilant in maintaining their natural recreation space. "Poplar Point is 110 acres and 70 acres is set aside to be a park. I would be careful to make sure the 70 acres stays," as the project slowly moves toward development.
Whereas previous conversations in the Humanities Council series have been emotionally charged, the evening's conversation featured a more reasoned tone, with mature and insightful analysis. Most people were able to agree on at least a few things: as the city grows in population, neighborhoods will respond differently, but the best response is when residents engage constructively in the process. That gives residents both a sense of ownership over their neighborhood, and a voice in decisions that guide local development.
In the real world: Zoning update hearing, citizen planners, Dupont/Logan bike safety, parking, and gentrification
Now that the summer is over, DC agencies and legislators are kicking it into gear, and there are a lot of important events coming up.
Council Chairman Phil Mendelson is holding a hearing on the zoning update, and the Office of Planning has a forum about citizens can engage in planning. There's a meeting on Dupont and Logan bike safety, a star-studded panel on gentrification, and two parking think tanks, and more.
Tomorrow, the Dupont and Logan ANCs are having a meeting "for residents, business owners, and organizations to discuss bicycle safety issues in the community," including new infrastructure, laws like those against sidewalk cycling, and any ideas residents have. It's in the ballroom of the Chastleton, 16th and R, from 7-9.
Also tomorrow is a Humanitini panel on gentrification. Washington City Paper editor Mike Madden is moderating the panel, which includes Rauzia Ally and Maria Casarella, two architects who serve on the Historic Preservation Review Board; Jonathan O'Connell of the Washington Business Journal; and former Mayor "that's an old movie" Tony Williams. Sign up to attend here.
Next week are 2 of DDOT's Parking Think Tanks, Wednesday evening 10/3 at the West End Library (large conference room) and Thursday 10/4 at Wilson High School (cafeteria). Both are 6:30-8:30. If you can't make one of them, don't forget to fill out the online survey, which asks about both car and bicycle parking issues.
Also next Thursday, October 4, the Office of Planning is having a Citizen Planner Forum to talk about how planning projects can engage more residents. They held 4 focus groups with residents about ways planning processes can work better, and will talk about the results, new tools to involve the public and more. The event is 6:30 to 8 at the District Architecture Center, 421 7th Street, NW.
Finally, there's a pretty important hearing for those of you who can make a 1 pm DC Council hearing on a Friday. Zoning update opponents convinced former Chairman Kwame Brown to hold an oversight hearing on the zoning update, even though the topic already came up during the annual oversight hearings for the Office of Planning each of the last 4 years. Phil Mendelson kept it on the agenda when he became chairman. It was originally supposed to be today, but since it's Yom Kippur, they moved it to Friday, October 5.
Zoning update head opponent Linda Schmitt sent a predictably provocational and misinforming email, claiming that a process over 4 years with hundreds of community meetings (and more to come) is about "high-handed decisions by city officials ... who make every effort to play "hide the ball," deflecting questions, maligning civic advice and avoiding
stating their intentions." To sign up to testify, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, address, and phone number.
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