Peter Tatian, having lived in D.C. for over 25 years, describes the changes to the Shaw and Pleasant Plains neighborhoods as extraordinary. "I remember when that part of town was considered off limits by many people, that you wouldn't want to even go there. And now it's become one of the priciest areas," says Tatian, a senior researcher at the Urban Institute.
Resident Sylvia Robinson welcomes many of the improvements to the area, and while she does not wholly oppose the economic and demographic shifts her neighborhood has undergone, she says:
"I consider gentrification an attitude. It's the idea that you are coming in as a planner, developer, or city agency and looking at a neighborhood as if it's a blank slate. You impose development and different economic models and say that in order for this neighborhood to thrive you need to build this much housing, this much retail."
Robinson formed the Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force to give residents a voice and ensure that new developments benefit the existing community. The Task Force has lobbied for new affordable housing that will prevent the displacement of long time residents. Advocates have also proposed making improvements to bus service that connects people to new shopping developments, as well as to jobs and home.
"The development of our community is really going to hinge on people being able to move up and down that segment of Georgia Avenue freely and easily," Robinson says.
Thanks to Jessica Brent