Thank you for the Nov. 13 and Nov. 14 front-page articles about the changes at 14th and T streets NW, but I wish the stories had made more of a distinction between for-profit developers and individual home buyers.
Most individual buyers purchase the best property in the best neighborhood that they can afford, and it is unfair to describe them as "snapping up nearby houses at rock-bottom prices." That implies that they moved into the neighborhood solely to take unfair advantage of people who are forced to sell their properties at depressed prices. These purchasers bought from willing sellers at market prices.
Second, the Nov. 13 article noted a "sleek new furniture boutique with a $4,000 couch in the window." That did not represent the variety of stores on nearby blocks, which include a card store, a grocery, a hair salon and other small businesses with reasonable prices. Many of these businesses' owners live in the neighborhood.
Last, the intersection was described as part of the U Street-historic Shaw neighborhood, but it is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city in terms of race, income and sexual orientation. No one individual or group owns a neighborhood. Neighborhoods are in flux and reflect changing demographics. That is what makes living in an urban neighborhood so challenging, yet special.
J. CHRIS BABB
Having recently purchased and moved into a rowhouse around the corner from the intersection of 14th and T streets NW, we wonder whether we are part of the "khaki aesthetic" disparaged by Mike Benson, owner of Cafe Saint-Ex.
We understand that this neighborhood has not historically been home to young white professionals, but we are not from the suburbs, and we do not wear khaki. We patronize local businesses, including Paradise Liquor, and we don't care whether they sell 40-ounce beers or use black plastic bags.
We were left asking ourselves whom, exactly, Mr. Benson expects to patronize his restaurant. The "bicycle messengers" and "artists" he cited cannot afford the bar's imported beers, let alone its $18 roasted organic chicken. Mr. Benson must be depending on the people who are buying the $839,000 rowhouses down the street.
This neighborhood is clearly in transition and has not settled on a new identity yet. But "pioneers" such as Mr. Benson cannot take credit for turning the neighborhood around while bemoaning the spaghetti-strap-wearing customer base that has made his restaurant a success.