Priced out in Columbia Heights
December 2, 2010 17 Comments
Longtime residents are faced with rising rent in neighborhoods that bear little resemblance to their beleaguered past.
By Jeremiah Patterson
The corner where 14th and Irving streets cross in Northwest D.C. is more than an intersection of two roads. Here, in the Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant area, it’s also an intersection of two places and two times.
Residents describe the area in past and present.
The first scene is of the neighborhood from a little over decade ago: An area still suffering from the ’68 riots, with dilapidated houses and many vacant storefronts.
The second scene is from today: A retail complex — featuring a Target, Best Buy and more — anchors the intersection, serving as a gateway to well-lit, well-trafficked roads lined by fresh condos.
Affordable property is all but swallowed by the change.
These are the scenes some former residents describe. Residents who, when looking to settle with their families, had to move beyond Mount Pleasant and Columbia Heights for homes. In short, living there, they say, is just too expensive.
Hear from three voices, all former residents of the same apartment building in Mount Pleasant.
Lila Santos, now a resident of Chillum neighborhood, says all the development in Mount Pleasant has transformed the area into a “Georgetown.”
Nick Pimentel, who now lives in Petworth, says he’s noticed group houses in Mount Pleasant being replaced by single families, who face increased rent.
Lizzy Evelyn, married to Pimentel, says she knew that as retail stores moved into the Mount Pleasant area, many residents would have to move out.
There could be a third scene for the intersection of 14th and Irving — that of tomorrow. But it’s certain to reflect the current changes. The most recent indication: Walmart has plans for a store at the corner of Georgia and Missouri avenues.