Contradictions build over Columbia Heights development

As tensions rise among residents, Columbia Heights continues to physically change.

By Jeremy Borden

Columbia Heights, in Northwest Washington, D.C., is a community dealing with the tension of new versus old. New buildings juxtaposed with old portray a story of a community struggling with an evolving identity.

Priced out in Columbia Heights

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.”

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Exploring the ‘G-word’ in Ward 8

While Ward 8 has endured a culturally rich past and troubled present, the “east of the river” community is currently home to a revival of sorts – and, according to some of its residents, plenty of misperceptions as well.

By Kate Musselwhite

Gentrification: exploring the “G-word”

Gentrification. From news reports to documentaries, the term has come to encompass many of the problems and changes that affect residents in the city’s southernmost and poorest ward.

Gentrification means something to everybody — so we asked.

A community activist

According to Ward 8 resident, entrepreneur and blogger, Nikki Peele, there is a “Renaissance” going on east of the river.

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Exclusive: a roundtable debate

Join host and managing editor Jeremy Borden, American University assistant professor Angie Chuang, filmmaker Tendani Mpulubusi El and Washington Post/Capital Business reporter Jonathan O’Connell for a roundtable conversation on the racial and socioeconomic issues that divide Washingtonians. Below are several segments of the conversation — listen to the podcast to hear the entire discussion.

In the first discussion, our guests explore the emergence of a “black-white narrative” during the 2010 Vincent C. Gray and Adrian M. Fenty mayoral primary election. The panelists also discuss the polarizing nature of Michelle Rhee, former chancellor of the D.C. public school system.

In the second panel, our guests reflect on what the term “gentrification” means in the District — one thing they all agree on, it means change.

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