Every now and then the Census Bureau or some organization releases a report or new data showing that DC’s demographics changed. A recent analysis of census data found that the 20001 zip code, which covers LeDroit Park, Pleasant Plains, Bloomingdale, Truxton Circle, Shaw, and Mount Vernon Square, saw its non-Hispanic white population increase by 27.2 percentage points from 5.6% to 32.8%. In fact, 20001 made the list of “most-whitened zip codes” in the nation.
Our review of the 2010 census data found that LeDroit Park is 21% white, which is below the figure for the zip code.
What does this mean? Without more information, the report doesn’t mean much other than the unsurprising fact that neighborhood demographics change. This plain answer will dissatisfy some. In a city in which identity is inevitably intertwined with politics, many will feel compelled to read too much into the data for some larger narrative that confirms preexisting social or political views.
However, the reasons that people move into and out of a neighborhood are complicated and there are both push and pull factors, both voluntary and involuntary.
Why a person might leave a neighborhood:
- Your new spouse wants to live elsewhere.
- You graduated from the local university and intend to return to your hometown.
- You dislike too many of your neighbors.
- You got a new job far away.
- The rent has become unaffordable.
- You lost your job and can’t pay any rent.
- You want to retire closer to where your children live.
- Perceptions of crime.
- You want to send your children to school elsewhere.
- You’re pursuing a degree somewhere else.
Why a person might move into a neighborhood:
- You are born and that’s where your parents live.
- You found the perfect home.
- Friends and family are nearby.
- There are people like you nearby.
- You got a new job nearby.
- The area is familiar.
- You’re moving in with friends or relatives.
- Rent is cheaper here than in some other place.
- The neighborhood is visually appealing.
Each person’s story is different, but there is far more at work than the simplistic displacement narrative that gets so much press.
520 Florida Avenue NW
Rating: 5 arches (out of 5)
Recommendation: House-smoked pulled pork shoulder (pictured above)
Back in November 2010 we wrote about the renovation underway at the two-story brick building at the southeast corner of 6th Street and Florida Avenue. What a great place for a cafe, we opined.
Finally in July of last year, a restaurant called Shaw’s Tavern opened up in the space. Many neighbors expressed eager anticipation at the very rumor, mostly since Florida Avenue lacks a variety of decent sit-down options.
The excitement was short-lived. The restaurant’s management ran afoul of the District’s liquor regulations when it allegedly forged an alcohol license to purchase liquor from suppliers. Just before opening, Shaw’s hosted several events during which they served alcohol without the a license. The Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Board, rightly outraged, refused to grant the license.
Unable to serve alcohol, which is where restaurants make much of their money, Shaw’s quickly closed. New owners bought the business and have reopened the space for breakfast, brunch, and lunch. Shaw’s will finally serve dinner and thus expand their hours beyond the 4 pm closing when they get their alcohol license approved.
We dropped by Shaw’s Tavern recently to sample the food and the trip was well worth it. The food was excellent and refined and the atmosphere was pleasant.
We ordered the house-smoked pulled pork shoulder (pictured above), which is served on a patty of crispy jalapeño-cheddar polenta and cider vinegar jus. The waiter described the item as “killer” so we couldn’t possibly ignore such an endorsement.
It turns out the waiter was right. The pork, as he described, is smoked for 12 hours. It shows. The distinctly smokey and faintly tangy flavor of the tender shoulder meat makes the dish a signature item for Shaw’s.
The pork tops a polenta patty, which is cripsy like hash-browns on the exterior, but creamy like skillfully prepared scrambled eggs on the inside. In fact the filling is not egg at all, but jalapeño cheddar cheese with polenta, making it a close rival to the pork.
For dessert we ordered spiced chocolate pudding. A dollop of cream and candied orange peel garnish the pudding. Don’t let that fool you, though. The pudding itself is not nearly as sweet as most American desserts and so the spice stands out.
The interior of the restaurant provides an unusual variety of seating options. There are high tables for four people and larger parties. The bar itself is as wide as a full table and provides ample space for dining. The outdoor patio on the 6th Street side just opened with several iron tables and chairs. The inside also sports several couches with coffee tables, each equipped with a book on the Civil War to honor the restaurant’s namesake, Col. Robert Gould Shaw, for whom the Shaw neighborhood is named.
There are few restaurants that really impress us, but Shaw’s Tavern was able to do it. When it opens up for dinner, we expect to return often.
Capital Bikeshare, the District’s smashingly successful bikesharing system, will expand this fall. Unfortunately, the expansion plans for this fall exclude LeDroit Park.
The District and Arlington launched the system a year ago with 14 stations in Arlington and 100 in the District. This fall, DDOT will add 34 stations in the District. In our area, DDOT will add a station by the Shaw Library and another at 1st Street NW and Rhode Island Avenue NW in Bloomingdale.
These additions should help alleviate the pressure placed on the existing stations at 7th & T Streets NW in Shaw and at Florida Avenue and R Street NW in Bloomingdale. Currently, LeDroiters and Bloomingdalers compete to use these two stations and thus frequently leave the stations empty or full during rushhour.
Last week DDOT Director Terry Bellamy announced that the district will add 50 stations early next year. We hope that in this new round DDOT focuses more attention on LeDroit Park and other neighborhoods in ANC 1B.
For instance, a Capital Bikeshare station could easily go in at the Park at LeDroit’s south entrance at 3rd and Elm Streets NW. This location is central to the neighborhood and could bring some extra eyes to the park throughout the day.
Outside of LeDroit Park, there is a noticeable station gap in the northern reaches of Bloomingdale and around Cardozo High School.
Capital Bikeshare is particuarly successful in our part of DC for several reasons:
- Car ownership is relatively low compared to the rest of the nation, region, and city. This inclines people to bike more.
- Parking is particularly difficult on many neighborhood streets, thus making cycling more attractive.
- The historical development of this area has permitted the close proximity of commercial uses to residential uses. This means trips to shops and restaurants are short and easily made by bike.
- Downtown is a short ride away and biking is often faster than taking the bus.
The monthly meeting of ANC1B will be on Thursday, December 2 at 7pm in the Reeves Building at Fourteenth and U Streets NW. Here are some of the highlights from the agenda:
The commission will likely support the zoning relief application for 2221 14th Street NW (image above). In a rare residential foray, Douglas Development seeks to build a condo building at the southeast corner of Fourteenth Street and Florida Avenue. The company is seeking support for several variances and special exceptions, mostly regarding the roof structure, rear setback, and parking requirements. View the designs and zoning application.
The commission is also likely to lend its support to the Arts District Branding Project, which is developing graphic banners (sample at right) to hang from lights posts along Fourteenth Street and U Street. The banner is part of a $200,000 city-funded branding project to enhance the marketing and identity of the arts district that stretches along Fourteenth Street from Rhode Island Avenue to Florida Avenue and along U Street from Seventeenth Street to Seventh Street.
DDOT prefers that private groups obtain ANC support before the agency permits groups to hang banners on poles for 90 – 180 days. After the 180-day term, the banners remain up until another group wishes to use the poles or until the group removes them.
Also on the agenda is the District-owned Parcel 39 at the southwest corner of Eighth and T Streets in Shaw. The site is currently a parking lot, but Mayor Fenty, in the waning days of his mayoralty, is seeking to sell the lot to a development team with plans to construct a four-unit condo building. The sale price, or proposed sales price, has not yet been disclosed.
Two licensees are looking to modify their licenses:
Alero Restaurant & Lounge (1301 U Street) looks to amend its Class C license to include a 44-seat sidewalk café serving alcohol from 11:30 am to 1 am Sunday through Saturday.
Nearby, the Islander Caribbean Restaurant & Lounge (1201 U Street) wants to extend its hours and expand to the second floor. Currently their hours are Sunday 10 am- 2 am and Thursday-Saturday 10 am-2 am. They propose these new hours: Sunday through Saturday, 6 am-4 am with alcohol served Sunday 10 am-2 am, Monday-Thursday 8 am-2 am, and Friday – Saturday 8 am-3 am.
The commission will likely renew the following licenses as a formality:
- Duffy’s Irish Restaurant (2106 Vermont Avenue)
- Hominy/Bohemian Caverns (2001 11th Street)
- Dickson Wine (903 U Street)
- Velvet Lounge (915 U Street)
- Indulj (1208 U Street)
- Desperados Pizza (1342 U Street)
- Patty Boom Boom (1359 U Street)
- Marvin (2007 14th Street)
- The Gibson (2009 14th Street)
- Café Collage (1346 T Street)
- Jin (2017 14th Street)
We’re back from our half-month vacation and LeDroit Park and Shaw are about to see some construction action starting today.
Wednesday, September 1 – 10:30 am
Just when we thought construction on the park on the site of the old Gage-Eckington School would begin, along came the parks scandal last October. Then in March, Harry Thomas Jr. (D – Ward 5) tried to prevent the mayor from appropriating money to the park project; he then reversed himself after an avalanche of constituent criticism. The new contract was ready to go until Councilmember Marion Barry (D – Ward 8) put a hold on the contract in late July. Mr. Barry’s delay procedure just expired and the mayor’s office will host a groundbreaking ceremony today at 10:30 am at Third and Elm Streets.
Over in Shaw, the two block site currently occupied by Giant and a crumbling old market façade is about to start its journey to become a vibrant mixed-use development. Join the Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), Mayor Adrian Fenty (D), Council Chairman Vincent Gray (D), Councilmember Jack Evans (D – Ward 2) and Councilmember Kwame Brown (D – at large) for the groundbreaking.
Thursday, September 2 – 10:45 am
After years of planning and promises, construction on the Howard Theatre begins in earnest. Join the developer, ANC Commissioner Myla Moss, and other notables for the official groundbreaking.
We’re relieved to see these long-promised projects finally moving forward to construction.
The Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library opened yesterday. We took a quick look inside this afternoon and will have a thorough report later this week. Our initial impressions were positive. The new library, though offering the limited collection of a branch library, houses it all in a pleasant, bright, airy building. The new library contrasts sharply with its previous brutalist incarnation that resembled a prison for mischievous books.
Drop by and check it out.
Developers of several large projects in Shaw adhere to the Macbeth method when promising groundbreakings: tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.
But this summer is shaping up— keep your fingers crossed— to be a constructive one for Shaw. After decades of disinvestment, decay, and neglect, much of Shaw’s physical environment has already healed. Some star-crossed exceptions include the area around the Shaw Metro station’s north entrance, which emerges from the ground to a large empty lot, a row of boarded-up shops, a vacant Hostess factory, and a vacant theater. A terrible first impression of Shaw.
If action is eloquence, then the poetry begins in August.
August 22, 2010 – Howard Theatre
August 2010 – UNCF Headquarters
It seems like only yesterday Radio One unceremoniously withdrew from the Broadcast Center One project to be built at the Shaw Metro’s north entrance. Lo and behold, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) swooped in to fill the void. The District cemented the deal by offering UNCF $5.1 million in tax abatement and relocation subsidies. The project will include 50,000 square feet for UNCF’s offices, a college information center, as well as 180 (or 133?) housing units. Work on the project will also commence in August 2010 and finish sometime in 2012.
September 2, 2010 – O Street Market
Just down Seventh Street between O and P Streets is the shell of a Victorian-era market designed by German-born Washington architect Adolf Cluss. The project includes condos, apartments, senior housing, a hotel, parking, retail, and a new Giant to be built behind the extant walls of the old market (rendering above). The project will also re-establish Eighth Street NW between O and P Streets NW. Construction will begin on September 2 and the current Giant will close and be demolished early next year.
When climbing the escalator out of the Shaw Metro’s north entrance, one emerges between Seventh Street on the left and a vacant field on the right. The vacant field has been set for renewal with a plan going back several years. In January, when we first started writing about the project, Radio One was still planning to move its headquarters to the site and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) was considering space there, too.
At the February ANC1B meeting, the development team’s lawyer stated that the combination of UNCF and Radio One would require a reduction in the number of apartments from 180 to 133. With Radio One unceremoniously backing out, the number is now restored to 180. In January, the amount of retail space was reported to be 22,000 square feet. Now that UNCF plans to occupy 5,000 square feet on the ground floor for an outreach center, the retail component may have changed.
Two weeks ago we reported that Radio One had snubbed Shaw and decided to stay put in Lanham, possibly putting the project in jeopardy. Luckily, UNCF, in offering to purchase half of the 100,000 square feet of office space, provides a sufficient commitment to get the project further financing.
The following table illustrates the changes in the project since the beginning of the year and reflects numbers gleaned from various sources.
|Radio One||Radio One + UNCF||UNCF|
|Office Space (sq ft)||96,000||160,000||100,000|
On Friday, the WBJ reported that UNCF’s chief had formally testified before the D.C. Council seeking a $3.8-million property tax break and a $710,000 grant to move to Shaw. LeDroit Park’s ANC commissioner Myla Moss (ANC1B01) testified in support of the legislation, which will be taken up by the full council in April. If approved, the development team promises (yet again) to break ground in August.
One casualty of the proposed move is the Howard Theater, already delayed and crumbling under the elements. The $710,000 relocation grant would come from money set aside for the theater’s revival.
Over in Shaw, the billboards at the intersection of Fourth Street, P Street, and New Jersey Avenue have been removed after the billboard’s owner, ClearChannel, reached an agreement with the District.
The Other 35 Percent details the billboards’ downfall. And there’s a video, too: (skip ahead to 2:30 and then to 4:25 to see the massive billboard crash to the ground.)
We learned that many years ago the LeDroit Park Civic Association meetings used to get heated. How times have changed; every meeting we’ve attended this year was calm and polite.
This contrasts with some neighboring Shaw and Mount Vernon civic associations, which, as the blog The Other 35 Percent reports, have involved member blacklists, police-escorted ejections, membership schisms, and restraining orders. Sounds like the plot of a novel!