The Washington Post has reported several stories on development and revitalization throughout the District. A lot having to do with the on again off again baseball stadium which will displace strippers, yes strippers and five land owners for the construction of the new stadium and the revitalization of the Anacostia waterfront.
A debate is going on concerning the redevelopment of the H street corridor in NE – my neighborhood. Rumors of restoring trolly service to H Street, as well as building a Harris Teeter and several condos behind Union Station, are running rampant. Zoning laws prohibit "fast food" restaurants or those that don't have sit down dinning from opening on H. A Blimpie closed due to this law instead of fighting it and two other restaurants are threatened by the zoning. Allegations of class, race and cultural differences have flamed some of the H street redevelopment debate.
A friend and I visited the new restaurant Vegetate in Shaw. The food was wonderful, the place gorgeously renovated. What was curious was that it International Lifestyles Boutiquewas surrounded by boarded up row houses. Other businesses speckled the neighborhood but were outnumbered by the rundown row houses.
Another curiosity was the International Lifestyles Boutique, that was about two blocks South. Designer clothing, jewelry, concierge service, rental cars (Bentley and Jags), personal stylists you name it. One dress was $1800! Obviously not catering to the neighborhood.
So what's my point in all this?
I wonder if redevelopment has to be synonymous with gentrification? Do redevelopment projects have to push the poor out to be successful? To get an influx of cash to an area, does revitalization always have to cater to the white upper middle class? And with DC's sordid history of gentrification, is their a way to do community development that is actually good for the community? Taking culture and history into account? Or will this predominately black city fail to integrate the richness of all of its citizens in all of its revitalization projects?