Decade in Review-Gentrification or Turnover

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I realized I haven't reviewed a theme of this blog, gentrification. There are a few ways to define 'gentrification'. One fairly benign definition is that of demographic change, and looking at the history of the Truxton Circle area before the word "gentrification" ever appeared, there was change. Neighborhoods change, there are plenty of places in the US that used to be Italian neighborhoods, Jewish neighborhoods and the like that are no longer. And those places before they became a Irish-Catholic or such neighborhood were something else. Change happens. There is another definition of gentrification as displacement. Displacement is a negative word, with images of people being pushed or pressured out to be replaced (in the case of gentrification) by a higher income, usually called wealthy, set of people. Being in this neighborhood, I favor the first definition, as change, it's just now, we're paying attention.

In 2009 I had two posts, Turnover part 1 and Turnover part 2, looking at sales data from the's DC Citizen Atlas. The map I showed looked at sales between 1999 and Nov 16, 2009 on the block represented by red stars, showing a lot of ownership turnover. So I decided to review here.

Atlas Map.jpgThis map shows sales of properties in the north central TC between 2003 and 2013. The red stars are sales between 2.00 and 2 million dollars. The brown dots are non-taxable properties. Blue dots are taxable properties, so under those sold red stars should be a blue dot. The one green dot in this map shows the land is owned by the US Government. On another map, blue dots are DC government properties.

What the stars do not show is resident turnover. If a property is owned by a longtime landlord it does not show the parade of tenants he/she may have had within a ten year period, and renters are more likely to move around. Also it does not show if something was an investment property where the tenants were kept. It does happen. It is a sloppy measure of change, but the best one giving a visual and house by house view.

I decided to also to look at sales from 1999, which I think is the earliest the database goes (I put in 1970 just in case it went back further) to 12/31/2003. This period for me was just when the area, well the Truxton Circle area of Shaw, was begining to see rises, crazy seeming rises in prices. If you told me in 2003 that houses on my side of the block would sell for around 1/2 a million, I would have told you that you were insane. So the higher prices in sales are starting to arrive and with that expections/hopes from owners that rents may follow.

CITIZENMAP12-2003.jpgFor the 1999?-2003 map, here on the right, there are a lot of stars still, but only in certain spots. There are clusters of sales on the 300 block of R St, 1600 block of 4th St and a section of the unit block of P St NW. Yet a problem is this map probably does not show sales during this period that have also been sold in the 2004-2013 period. For example, a house is sold in 2002, and again in 2009 and again in 2012. There is a house on the 1500 block of 3rd Street that had lots of ownership turnover that is not showing up here. So what it is probably showing are those of us who bought between 1999-2003 and not sold.

So with all these properties getting bought and sold over a 10 and 4 year period, does this look like the gentrification ('cause the prices only go up) that is just change or the gentrification that is displacement? I know it is a sloppy tool, but it is what I have.

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