The topic of gentrification in the District is generating some buzzÂ â€” as it often does.Â Last week, the Root DCâ€™s Stephen A. Crockett Jr. introduced us all to the term â€śswagger jacking,â€ť which then triggered a slue blog posts (including our own) on the subject of DCâ€™s economic, cultural and racial shift.
Shortly after Crockettâ€™s piece, The Atlantic published a follow-up story that exposed a series of counter arguments to Crockettâ€™s commentary. In the article â€“ â€śThe Politics of the Urban Comeback: Gentrification and Culture in DCâ€ť â€“ writer Garance Franke-Ruta argues that DCâ€™s developmental boom [aka: gentrification] should not be seen as such a bad thing.
Yes, DC is changing; but the once dubbed â€śChocolate Cityâ€ť has been undergoing this major transition for more than a decade. And according to Franke-Ruta, development in the city (especially in the U Street area) is not to blame for the loss of DCâ€™s black population â€“ that happened long before the â€śculture vulturesâ€ť swooped in with construction cranes and hipster ambiance.
â€śA close look at the Census data shows that black population loss in the neighborhood actually slowed as gentrification picked up, dropping almost in half from the previous decade’s rate,â€ť writes Franke-Ruta.
The article also emphasizes the importance of the Districtâ€™s continuing development for tax revenue and population retention purposes. (I donâ€™t know about you, but I am sick of being referred to as a â€śtransient city.â€ť) Encouraging revitalization, development, small business establishments and residential space in DC (especially in the U Street corridor) has been a major priority for the Districtâ€™s last four mayors.
So there you have it â€“ two sides of the cityâ€™s decade-long great divide. Crockett longs for a city that dodges a disheartened sense of â€śfaux black ethos,â€ť while Franke-Ruta longs for a less dodgy city. Is one argument better than the other? And is there a way for the city (and for U Street) to continue to develop and evolve in a way that pleases the majority of the Districtâ€™s residents?
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