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DC’s ‘new’ neighborhoods and how they came to be

For those of us who have called DC home for a decade or more, sometimes it feels like living in a whole new city.

The Southwest Green Quadrant used to feel off the grid for many Washingtonians, prized by members of Congress and some Supreme Court justices who wanted to stay out of the spotlight. Today, the area is home to the avant-garde architecture of Arena Stage and a mini-city within the city along the waterfront at The Wharf.

  • And look at Ivy City. The area off New York Avenue in the northeast has grown from an industrial area to home to several Michelin-recognized restaurants.

Why is this important: The transformation of our urban landscape has truly changed the way we live, work and socialize.

How did it happen? Low-density zoning laws and DC’s NIMBY culture.

  • Much of DC is exclusively zoned for single family housing. Most lots in Tenleytown, Woodley Park and Cleveland Park, for example, don’t even allow townhouses, let alone high-rise buildings or multi-family housing, senior Brookings Metro colleague Jenny Schuetz told Axios. .
  • Most of the district, she says, is “barred to new development.”

Meanwhile, Persistent NIMBY-ism on the part of longtime residents with political capital has kept this kind of restrictive zoning intact.

  • “There is relatively strong opposition to new developments,” says Brookings Metro colleague Tracy Hadden Loh. “One of the ways to deal with this opposition is to channel all new development into places where very few people live, or places where people with very little power (live).”

Between the lines: Even when Washingtonians lose the battle against new developments, they are often able to stall construction for years.

Zoom out: DC is in desperate need of housing — the mayor has set a goal of building 36,000 new units by 2025. Newly developed areas in the Southwest, for example, have brought in thousands of units over the past few years. years.

And in addition to housing, new neighborhoods stimulate tourism and economic growth.

  • When complete, The Wharf is expected to bring in $75 million in annual tax revenue.

Yes, but: The growth steadily displaces existing residents who cannot afford the new rents and exorbitant housing costs.

At a time, places with restrictive zoning like Cleveland Park are stagnating due to aging and declining populations, negatively impacting commercial corridors, Schuetz says.

  • “Current residents have essentially chosen to preserve neighborhoods as they are, at the cost of becoming a sort of endangered neighborhood,” she says.

The bottom line: DC’s unique development climate means that “new” neighborhoods can only be built in certain areas with available land and flexible zoning. Enter places like Navy Yard and Union Market.

Here’s a crash course in DC’s new neighborhoods.

Arsenal: A city on the water
The rooftop bar at the Takoda Navy Yard. Photo by Craig Hudson/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Story: The southeast quarter housed the Navy’s oldest settlement on land since 1799.

  • In the 1970s, the area was home to a number of LGBTQ bars.

Turning: In 2004, the Nationals announced they were moving in, sparking an eventual development boom. But some claim that the area was already destined for great changes after the city demolished the Ellen Wilson Social Housing and pushed its people to other parts of DC

Who lives here: It was a safe space for Millennial Trumpers under the administration of the former president. And it’s still a popular hangout for young conservative Washingtonians.

Clutch Convenience: Yards Park’s water feature is a great place to meditate or read after hours. During the summer months, it is a must-do paddling pool for toddlers and older children.

Grievance: Game day traffic.

1 novelty: Formerly known as Chateau Bleu, the former carriage barn that repaired the district’s trams is now Capital Recoveryan event venue.

Noma/Union Market: From wholesale to high end
People eat outside the Union Market.
Union Market, the former wholesale food market turned into a food hall in the northeast. Photo: Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Story: Although it has been home to Gallaudet University since 1864, much of the area was largely industrial and home to a huge market that supplied restaurants.

Turning: XM Satellite Radio and ATF are moving to the neighborhood sparked the developmentand the opening of the Union market in 2012 accelerated this development.

Main business: A.Litteria little Italy under one roof.

Claim to Fame: The area is a culinary mecca, with two food halls (Union Market and La Cosecha), a Stephen Starr restaurant (St. Anselm) and a distillery (Cotton & Reed).

  • Yes, but: “It’s all fanciful…sometimes you want something regular,” says ANC commissioner Sebrena Rhodes.

Grievance: Circle Dave Thomas. The city has plans in place for redesign the headache of a crossroads.

Still evolving: The murals, the art.

City of Ivy: don’t jump on me
The Hecht warehouse and the water tower.
The former warehouse of the Hecht department store is now a high-end apartment building. Photo: Lindsay Ferraris/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Story: In the 1960s, the city threatened to build a highway across the Northeast neighborhood and many residents have moved out, leading to an increase in abandoned buildings.

Turning: The completion of nearby Union Market and Douglas Jemal’s redevelopment of the Hecht’s Co warehouse. in 2016 triggered many of the recent changes.

New must-sees in the neighborhood: Target, City Winery and Ivy City Smokehousewinner of the Michelin Bib Gourmand.

Millennial magnets: The Lane (an indoor play area for kids and adults, with a ball pit and bar) and Kick Ax – a new neighborhood staple.

Colic: Longtime residents have plenty, but they haven’t lost their neighborhood pride, Rhodes says.

  • Affordable housing is a problem.
  • People are still coming in and dumping trash illegally.

  • A chemical plant in the area is also a big concern for residents.

Coming soon: Plans are underway to redevelop the long-empty, historic Crummell Schoolwhich closed in the 1970s.

The platform : Everything is new
Two people are kayaking near the dock with the Anthem in the background.
Redevelopment on the South West waterfront has opened many eyes to this once sleepy neighborhood. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Story: The former industrial shipyard still houses the oldest open-air fish market in the country.

How we got here: The Wharf is the result of decades of planning, several acts of Congress, and hundreds of community meetings. The developers worked with the city to create the mini-city on the water while preserving its long-standing fish market. The first phase was opened in 2017. Phase 2 is opening soon.

New neighborhood landmark: The anthem. The IMP Concert Hall has hosted performances by big names from Meek Mill to the Foo Fighters. Developers would have spent $300,000 to soundproof the space.

The neighborhood obsession: The fish market.

Grievance: The high traffic area is quite expensive. For foreigners, parking is a colossal pain.

Transportation: Subway, subway. The coolest way to access the neighborhood is by water taxi.

And after: Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has two restaurants on the South West Waterfront: Hell’s Kitchen is coming this fall and Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chipsopening is around the same time.

Tip Nozzle: Goooaaaaaaals from the neighborhood
The exterior of the Point Restaurant at Buzzard Point.
The waterfront restaurant The Point is one of the first in Buzzard Point. Photo: Nicholas Johnston/Axios

Story: It was once the site of an arms manufacturer, the hanging of Lincoln assassination conspirators, and a factory that boiled animal carcasses for fertilizer.

Turning: Interest in developing waterfront properties has spilled over to other new neighborhoods. But the real catalyst for the development of the Sud-Ouest district was his selection in 2013 as the home of DC United’s football stadium, Audi Field.

The draw for potential residents: Views, views, views.

  • There is little commerce at the moment, beyond the restaurant at the water’s edge Point.

Colic: There is no metro. And traffic problems skyrocket on game days.

  • Moreover, as in other rapidly developing areas, there are few family and inclusive housing options.
Shaw/Blagden Lane: Old made new
A mural showing a young boy drumming on everyday objects.
A mural by Kaliq Crosby celebrating go-go music marks the area near the origin of the Do not cut DC movement to Shaw. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios

Story: Shaw was known to be home to a number of black businesses and Notable black Washingtoniansincluding Carter G. Woodson.

  • Civil unrest following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 resulted in widespread destruction that required a years-long reconstruction effort.

Turning: A reduction in crime in the 1990s and early 2000s led to increased development and an increase in new people moving to the area, quickly costing long-time Shaw residents dearly. An influx of new jobs after the 2008 recession led white millennials to settle in the area “in droves”, Washington City Paper reports.

  • The 14th Street development has also spilled over to Shaw, ANC Commissioner Amanda Farnan said.

Grievance: Strict zoning and historic preservation laws can make it difficult to build the affordable housing needed to retain and bring back residents who have been driven out of the area, Farnan adds.

Fun fact: The area was first called Shaw because of its proximity to Shaw Junior High, named after Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, who led Massachusetts’ all-black 54th Regiment during the Civil War.

One thing to see: DC Alley Museum. Exploring the outdoor collection of painted garage doors in Blagden Alley is a great way to support the neighborhood, and they make for fantastic photo ops.