In this edition of Borderstan People, we talk to Tim Christensen, the current president of the Logan Circle Community Association (LCCA), and a 23-year resident of the Logan neighborhood. Christensen discusses life two decades ago in what is now arguably DC’s “It Neighborhood” — and also shares what he thinks, and hopes, is next for Logan Circle.
Borderstan: First, the basics. Where are you from and how did you end up in DC, particularly Logan Circle?
Christensen: I grew up in Midland, Michigan, lived in Ann Arbor for 13 years, and moved to DC to start a new job in 1987. Walter and I met in 1988 and bought our first home together in 1989.
Borderstan: You’ve been in Logan Circle since 1989. Not sure else how to put it, but Logan was the “gentrification frontier” of the time, wasn’t it?
Christensen: In 1989, as the crack cocaine epidemic peaked, we didn’t know for sure whether the neighborhood was headed up or down. Drug dealing and prostitution were still rampant. That had already begun to change for the better as more and more adventurous folks joined the “pioneers” who spearheaded neighborhood reconstruction under the leadership of the Logan Circle Community Association.
Borderstan: There’s lots of discussion about how Logan Circle (and DC) have changed in the last decade. But, we’d like your prediction of what is next for the neighborhood? What’s the next version of Logan Circle? What does it look like?
Christensen: The next version of Logan Circle is a vibrant, safe neighborhood that attracts young families — straight and gay — who want to raise their children here and send them to DC Public Schools. The community association is working with the parents on that. We must also do everything we can as individuals and a community to preserve diversity in all its dimensions.
Borderstan: What’s your prediction for the retail scene on the 14th Street corridor? It seems we are entering Phase 3.0 now — does that mean the arrival of chain stores, such as Gap?
Christensen: The risk is there. Small businesses often become victims of their own success as rents rise and big-box opportunities emerge. We must all — and I mean the DC government as well as private citizens, developers, and landlords — support our small businesses in every way we can to preserve the uniqueness of Logan Circle. The arts, particularly theatre and galleries, are crucial to the effort, as are our many boutique stores.
Borderstan: You’re president of LCCA. The organization seems to be making a very aggressive push to recruit the many new, young residents in Logan. Tell us about that.
Christensen: We’re determined to engage Millennials and succeeding generations. The key is to meet everyone where they are and offer opportunities to engage that are appealing. Maybe sitting in weeknight meetings isn’t the wave of the future. One way or another, we need to encourage everyone to shun anonymity and be an active participant in the community. Opportunities for service abound, and we want to tap into that potential.
Borderstan: Favorite places to eat and hang out?
Christensen: Stoney’s! And for fine dining, Cork Wine Bar, with frequent forays to Estadio, Masa 14 and Pearl Dive. Commissary is also a fun place for hanging out.
Borderstan: What are the Top 3 things you love about Logan Circle?
Christensen: (1) The welcoming, inclusive “village” appeal. (2) Logan Circle Park and our fabulous tree canopy (thanks, Marc Fallow and the Park Service!) and (3) That cool grocery store just around the corner on P Street
Borderstan: What have we missed?
Christensen: I was recently quoted in the New York Times as saying I would leave Logan Circle when the last pawnshop and storefront deli closed. Actually, I have no intention of moving, but would rue the day that Logan lost all its grit. The urban downtown vibe is part of what sets us apart and we don’t want to lose that.