So I'm in the Giant looking for non/de-caffinated tea and I happen upon a whole lotta lotta sleepytime teas in the tea section. #Woke is a thing I hear, but the problem of being so woke is having insomnia. Maybe this is the reason for the eight or more sleep inducing teas. But if you really want a tea that will knock you out you have to go a few, several blocks up 7th Street to Calabash Teahouse and get their "Sweet Dreams are Made of Teas" tea. Yes, it will cost more than the Celestial Seasonings tea, which is on sale at the O Street Giant, but it will help you sleep.
So the Washington Post mentioned the Richardson Place co-housing thing in an article a few days ago.The point of the real estate article was the new trend in group housing of developers creating housing for adults living together where they get their own bathrooms. Unlike old group houses where the shared bathroom and different sized rooms are a problem.
I'm going to totally ignore the problem of fitting too many people on a tiny little street. Gonna set that aside for a moment. That and the possible parking problem, 'cause everything comes down to parking 'round here.
What I will do is remember group housing. I have lived in group houses. My spouse lived in a group house. I know others who in their 20s lived in group houses, it is a thing people do around here; live in group houses.
One of the terrible scenarios brought forth during the BACA meetings against the idea of the co-housing was the idea of live in girlfriends (not boyfriends, I wonder what the gender issue is with that, but I digress) in every unit doubling the occupancy beyond what is legal. In London, I lived in a group house of 6 girls. In PG County, while in grad school, I lived with 4 girls in a small house. At no time did all of us have our boyfriends over at the same time. Maybe two guys might be in the house on a rare occasion. Asking the spouse of his experience, living with 3 guys. Maybe two guys would have their girlfriends over on the same night. The only guest who was a problem, the catalyst who inspired my spouse to move out of the group house, was one of the roommate's dad who stayed for an extended amount of time.
No I predict the problems Richardson Place neighbors will have are the same problems all current residents have with new residents. Parking, noise, and personality conflicts.
I was listening to a podcast lecture where one of the panelist mentioned a paper saying something that perked up my ears. He said something along the lines of residents of public housing benefit from gentrifying neighborhoods. Apparently they have greater incomes and less unemployment than public housing residents in poorer neighborhoods.
I had to find this paper.
It is "Linking Residents to Opportunity: Gentrification and Public Housing" and I'm a little less excited having read it. I'm thinking it is a NYC thing. For one, public housing in NYC doesn't change, whereas in DC what was once public housing can change into private or mixed use housing or transform. So DC public housing residents cannot necessarily feel comfortable that their housing will remain as a neighborhood changes. The second thing are improved schools. But in DC a little under half of DC students go to charter schools which do not necessarily reflect home addresses. So once again, it might be more of a NYC thing.
So how is it that the public housing residents in gentrifying NYC neighborhoods have more income and less unemployment? Craziest thing, the income gains come through paid employment. And they are probably not from jobs in the neighborhood. New businesses were not seen by pubic residents as sources for job opportunity. I know a popular question in DC is what do you do, which sometimes leads to where does one work? For the middle class hipsters and oldsters a lot of time whatever it is, it's not in walking distance. Biking distance maybe. So maybe public housing residents decided not to wait around for the jobs to come to them, seeing their gentrifying neighbors leave the neighborhood on a regular enough basis for work.
First off, Chapman Stables will/does have underground parking. I should have asked if the units come with a parking space or does one have to purchase a parking spot separately. But I didn't.
Other thing of interest to neighbors, is that they've already started selling units and expect to deliver maybe by Fall 2017. Units start around $300K and the 2 bedrooms hover in the mid $500K range. I also didn't bother asking what the condo fees are. Desk service and club rooms don't come free. So expect to see whippersnappers (yes, that's what I'm calling all you people younger than me) walking around engrossed in their phones later this year. Oldtimers please see these new neighbors as assets. They will be homeowners too, some of whom may attend Hanover Area Civic Association meetings (maybe) and will also get annoyed with the "issues" you all have on the southern end of Truxton Circle. That is provided they don't just see the neighborhood on their way to the garage in their car and from their condo window. There are 110 units, that's at least 110 new neighbors who will demand services and be attractive to the type of businesses that like people who can afford $300K+ condos.
I want to thank a neighbor for alerting me to the Travel and Leisure mag's bit regarding Shaw, which for some odd reason it wants to call North End Shaw. It's called Shaw. Just Shaw. You can call it U Street. You can call it Logan. You might want to call bits of it Truxton Circle. But for the love of all that is good, leave it at Shaw. I watched the videos attached to the piece. Um, where are the black people? Yes, you have brown people, and famous dead black people are mentioned, but I did not spot a single person of obvious African decent. That's concerning.... I know you want to sort of sell the neighborhood as a cool destination, but I'd like to think that my people are included in the cool. Even in a spot where I see old black guys hanging out, when it was filmed they were missing. Fine. I understand if no one wanted to film those guys. But seriously of the pedestrians and crowds in Shaw, not a single solitary black person?
Over the past month I've been enthralled with an album where the lyrics have made me stop and think. It's Sho Baraka's Narrative, but there is something from My Hood USA, 1937 which made me think of Shaw and well Truxton Circle.
As part of the Triangle Known as Truxton Circle art show (if you missed it, your loss) I had a map for residents to place a pin where they lived so we could see where our audience was from. The map wound up being a little confusing because the pins were colored and the colors on the original map pointed to types of different businesses in the neighborhood. In the song My Hood USA, 1937 a few of the lyrics go like this:
All we got is liquor stores next to a Burger King Next to a pawn shop, next to a Dairy Queen Next to the China shop, next to the gas station Next to the five churches, next to the building that's vacant
To my knowledge we've never had a Burger King or a Dairy Queen or a pawn shop, but churches, Chinese restaurants and gas stations, yup! We've had those. You may have to see the image in Flickr to see the six liquor stores (seen in brown) in NW Truxton existing in 1970. The other business that populated the TC in 1970 were barber or beauty shops (red), another staple of depressed neighborhoods. Not to fault barbershops, they're in nice upper class neighborhoods too, just not so many it seems. Then you have corner (and not on the corner) grocery stores in orange. We had one drug store, represented by green, on North Cap. I'll bet money it was a People's Drug (surviving People's Drugs are CVS'). The blue is "other convenience". Looking across the street on New Jersey Ave NW, I know one of those blues was a laundromat before it was converted into residential housing. What this map doesn't show are the vacant buildings. There were vacant buildings when I showed up over a decade ago. Vacant commercial properties. Vacant residential properties. Yes, gentrification brought displacement, but there were many places where there was no one to displace, just an empty brick box with plywood windows someone used to call home. I'm not even going to get into the "next to the five churches" thing. There were so many churches, storefront and steeple, that would be another blog post. Sho touches upon the make up of a neighborhood in other songs. In Forward, 1619 he raps " In between white supremacy and black nihilism; AME churches, corner stores and the prison systems". In Kanye, 2009 "And why ain't no Whole Foods in the hood?
All I see is fast food here, can we eat good?" ... "Less pawn shops and liquor stores and We Buy Gold". When I visited Chicago for my "2008 Gentrification Tour" driving through the middle class and downtown neighborhoods I noticed what businesses were around. Lotsa chiropractors' offices in 2008. Looking around TC and Shaw today, our great industry is feeding people and selling mundane to interesting drinking opportunities. We need to diversify, and find other commercial ventures not dependent on people's oral and digestive parts.
Not my next door neighbor, but the family across the street. Their house. I found out about it after my spouse called me to ask if I was seeing all the traffic on our block's email list group. Once I saw all the emails I figured out whose house was on fire and since the owner and I did a few things that I thought would help. Speaking with someone we know in common, the owner is upset, but also upset about how the fire was portrayed in the news. So I'm not going to talk about it in any detail, out of respect for her and her family.
I will talk about the importance of support systems. The email list mentioned that the nearby church reached out to help. I also know someone from the mayor's office stopped by to offer help. Not sure if her own church got back to her, but they are aware of her situation. And the Red Cross provided hotel accommodations. The Red Cross is great for providing the most meaningful help quickly and I would give them money if they didn't pimp out my contact information (many non-profits do). When the block experienced a flood a decade back, they were out at my house with mops and cleaning supplies before the insurance claims inspector showed up. But most obviously were the many family members and friends who came out to pull things out of the house and go through papers and things to find what was salvageable. Her family was out there for two days helping and assisting.
A year or so back a friend of mine's apartment was destroyed by fire. In another unit, another tenant who was experiencing some personal issues, started a fire. My friend was able to escape with his laptop and more importantly, his life. I've noticed he too has a great support system, as he was able to stay with at a friend's while he dealt with the aftermath. He had renter's insurance and gently declined our offers of money and stuff. The hardest part it seemed was going through all the things not obviously destroyed by water.
Looking at my neighbor's house the aftermath will be hard. The fire did not tear the beautiful metal handrail off the building. There are a bunch of things in black plastic contractor's bags, things that could not be saved. In order to do their job the firefighters tear doors off, break windows, and get a whole bunch of things wet. I'm not sure who is responsible for nailing the plywood up so thieves don't come through to steal your copper pipes or pilfer through floors undamaged by the ordeal. I can only gather the homeowner is responsible for calling a service vacuum up all the water that flowed to the basement. The water damage clean up people were there hours after the fire.
Lesson from all this? I would say check your smoke detectors but I got 8 frigging CO and smoke detectors in my house.... waaay too much work. However, I will replace an old hardwired smoke detector. According to the National Fire Protection Association, you're supposed to replace your smoke alarms every 10 years. I'm slowly replacing those 8 alarms. Renter's/ Homeowner's insurance helps. And lastly, build up your support network.
Please read Part 1 first. So at the highest in 1940 there were over eight thousand residents and with the last census in 2010 there were a little over three thousand residents in the NW part of Truxton Circle. There is a NE part on the other side of North Cap but I'm ignoring them*. So what happened? And what's going to happen going forward? I have my theories. As I mentioned the TC population was at its height in 1940 (see part 1 for all the numbers) before the US got involved in WWII. Also by this time the TC was clearly an African American neighborhood, as a Black majority was reached in 1930. Prior to that it was a mixed neighborhood with a White majority. But who out numbers who and percentages are a distraction from the big story this tells of a current population that is less than half of its 1940, 1930 and 1960 populations. And this is with no major change in the housing stock. I created two maps. One of consolidated 1887 maps and another of 1919 maps to show the change in building and housing stock. In 1887 there isn't a lot here. By 1919 most of what we recognize as housing in the TC had been built. The major exception is Square 554, where Mt. Sinai, the Northwest Co-op and the park sits. That block was mostly commercial so the loss in population was probably minimal. So the housing barely changed and the population changed a lot. So what happened? My theory, big changes in American culture, changes in migration and changes in attitudes regarding living space. A lot has happened since 1940, civil rights, Section 8, patterns in marriage & families and the rise of the service economy to name a few. The TC Black population was rising ever so slightly starting around 1900 and began to drop noticeably in 1970 and more so in 1980. My theory was the Great Migration was feeding that side of the population. My great uncle was part of that migration, going from NC to SE DC. My aunts in the 1970s pretty much skipped DC altogether and went to PG County. I credit Section 8 and HUD programs with out current landscape. The NW Co-op is a product of some HUD program and Section 8 provided value to the housing stock, but not enough value to provide an incentive to tear housing down and replace it with something newer. In 1940 people had larger families and took in lodgers (roommates). In 1940 people did work in the service economy as domestics, but many TC AfrAm men worked as some sort of low skilled laborer. In 2017 there is less demand for full time maids and ditch diggers. There is a demand for knowledge economy and skilled workers such as lawyers, IT people, managers, and the like. Those workers tend to hold off marriage and have way fewer kids, if any. A house that may have been home to 6 people in 1940 may now only have 1 or 2 people. Another thing relating to the unchanging housing stock and fewer people are attitudes about space. In 1900 there were 11 people in my then 1000 sq ft house. Five of them were adults. In 1940 just 4 but they were all adults sharing a 2 bedroom house. Today the average American home is over 2000 sq ft and children are expected to have their own room. So the current TC housing stock that has remained mostly unchanged is now considered too small for American migrants raised in suburbia or in larger homes. The trend towards tiny spaces seems to appeal to young professionals, not so much families. The future? In the near future I predict the neighborhood will become more racially mixed but less economically so. I also think there will be fewer families and the families that do remain will be small. The far future is harder and impossible to guess. We could become something like a slum again if the economy of the area changes because of technology (robots will replace us all) or change in how the Federal government operates (more agency headquarters in Booneyville, VA or MD or WV. So houses split into 2-3 condos may once again return to being 1 house under different circumstances. Whether or not it remains majority African American depends on the state of Black America and what the neighborhood offers.
*They are in a different census tract so it would be a pain to try to incorporate them. Also dealing with the NW part was tedious work so, no. Anyone is welcomed to do NE.
Well the art show/ history exhibit The Triangle Known As Truxton Circle is over. If you missed it, you've missed it. It is not showing anywhere else. It was a great show because of so many local elements from the location (thanks Weibenson & Dorman Architects PC), the community (thanks Scott Roberts for putting it all out there) and the fact that three neighbors (creative types) had one singular topic, our neighborhood. My major theme for the show was change. Two pieces (which is 12 individual pieces) really brought it home, Change and Beans. Quick key, Yellow on the map and Navy beans are White people, Brown on the map and Black beans are Black people and Green and Brown Pinto beans are everyone else. I loved the response visitors had with BEANS! I hadn't planned to create it, but in meetings with Ira and Brian (the more experienced artists) they suggested some visual to continue Change 1880-1940 and show the demographic change since the 1940 census. So I looked into artistic graphs and other visuals. I settled on doing something with dried beans. I figured if no one bought the pieces I could make soup afterwards. So what are you seeing in the photo above. You are seeing demographic change. You are seeing a neighborhood fill up and empty out. Here are the numbers:
Parking. It has come up recently regarding the development on Richardson Place and the developer who is looking for a variance for two sorta connected lots on the 300 block of P St NW and the 1500 block of 3rd. People attached to cars don't seem to understand those of us who aren't. I haven't owned a car in over 20 years..... gad I'm old. I have lived in DC for about 17 years, also carless. And as a carless person I have bought a house, where I didn't care about parking. I only care about parking when it comes to accommodating visitors who have cars. Well development or not, being able to park in front of your house is going away, unless you're handicapped. Change has not only come on the residential side, there has also been change on the commercial side with more (hopefully) businesses and houses of worship that will demand parking. Yes there are more people and households with more cars, but businesses like the nearby DCity Smokehouse, Big Bear Cafe and TC's ANXO (mentioned in the Michelin guide) bring outside cars in the north, Wicked Bloom and NoMA businesses bring cars to the east and southside of Truxton. If North Capitol becomes the commercial strip that we all hope it will be then there will be fewer parking spaces in residential areas. We will be like Dupont or Georgetown or any other DC neighborhood with a healthy residential and commercial area. And like Dupont and Georgetown people buy expensive houses and condos with no parking. A quick look on Redfin for Dupont and it appears if you are spending a million or more on a property, you may get one lousy parking space, anything less than a mil and you're parking on the streets with the rest of the peons. The new Ditto condos at 4th and P sold. The one without parking sold for smidge less than a million, the one with parking sold for $1.2 million. Five thousand less than a million, over 2,000 sq ft of modern living space and you have to compete with cabbies for parking near the mosque. I guess that's the future.