Photographs accompanying articles in last Saturday's real estate section on changing inner-city neighbourhoods were of the 100 block of Q street NW.
In the traditional sense, blockbusting means block moving into white neighborhoods. In the District, a reverse situation crisis whites are moving into black neighborhoods.
It is not just a trickie of individual whites moving into black neighborhoods. It is move like a surge that has been created by real estate brokers, white and black absentee landowners, and to a greater extent, by the District government.
Unlike the old-fashioned blockbusting, where one individual bought one house in a row of houses, the city government, the banks and the building contractors are now busting entire areas, which is more like a grenade than a bullet.
No value judgement will be made on blockbusting or the activities of the organizations mentioned here. I will only enumerate significant occurrences that have taken place throughout Washington.
Start with Capitol Hill. Historically bounded on the north by G Strret NE, Capitol Hill has been a very active renovation area for many years in [WORD ILLEGIBLE], buildings in the northern-most commercial strip along M Street NE were damaged or destroyed during the civil disorders. As result, many of them properties were collected by the city Government.
In some cases this action was a placebo to property owners who were burned out during the riots. Then, the governments saw fit to start "planning" for this area, but this effect, which included government organizations and local committees has accomplished nothing. However in interesting phonomenon has occurred; many, many buildings - even estire blocks of buildings - have been leveled.
This has created a no-man's land or insulations barrier for Capitol Hill on the south and for a region just south of the neighborhood called Ivy City.
While not exactly busting blocks, the government has blacks "trapped" in the south Tenants, as well as landowners, are being squeezed out by the rush of renovators and renovation groups that we have formed to renovate whole blocks.
This can be observed on Linden Street, Acker Place, Duncan Place, Pickford Place and 15th Street NE. The south is enclosed by a barrier produced by the demolition of buildings, and, like a fish stranded in a pool of evaporating water, it may suffociate. This situation has gone relatively unobserved and unreported.
In the Northwest, the Washington Board of Realtors in conjunction with the Board of Trade, the city's urban renewal arm, the Redevelopment Land Agency (RLA), and and the D.C. Development Corp. (DCDC) - a private corporation that uses city and federal funds to promote inner-city economic development - has seen fit to take over whole blocks of houses.
An example of this is 9th Street NW between R and S streets. These houses were purchased from landlords at $8,000 to $10,000 by the government. sold to contractors for $2,000 to $3,000 and them sold by the contractors to the public for $40,000 to 45,000.
In this case, some of the buildings were vacant and other were occupied - but all people were displaced. This has obviously caused social change in the neighborhood. But the largest effect is the increased price of houses in the section, which benefitted the absentee landowners and worked to the detriment of long-term residents whose taxes ultimately will be increased.
Look at U Street. This street was also a riot corridor in 1968. Traveling down this street one can see a number of buildings that have been or are being torn down. Rebuilding in the 1400 block of Corcoran Street NW is well under way and there are pockets of restoration here and there.
Analogous to what happened in the Northeast with H Street, the U Street corridor will be torn down along those blocks to the south where restoration/renovation has progressed, again insulating the south from the people living to the north.
Another form of block-busting or area busting is being fostered by the combined forces of District agencies and DCDC. In this case they tear down individual houses and exect housing developments. Good example of this are the Wylie Court Apartments in northeast between 12th and 12th streets NE and I and K streets, NE (the far eastern edge of Capitol HU), and the development in Northwest between 2nd and 3rd streets NW and Q and R streets NW.
The northwest development is contiguons to the Bates street Development, which consists of four blocks of houses primarily owned by RLA and private individuals. These buildings will be used for middle and upper-income housing and ultimately will sell for $45,000 to $50,000. That is, if this project does not go the way of the Southwest Rehabilitation Project of nearly 20 years ago: Prices then were to be in the $30,000s, but units actually sold for up to twice that and are now in the $80,000-to-$100,000-plus range.
Who is to day what the socio-economic balance sheet for the devastation, relocation, construction, and the new populace will look like.