The Other Cost of Gentrification

We’ll ignore for purposes of this post that there are different kinds of gentrification, this older story I’ve been meaning to get to illustrates a major problem:

After more than a decade of serving Scandinavian-Slavic comfort food in what was once a sit-down restaurant desert, Domku Cafe is closing its doors in Petworth. In a Facebook post, owner Kera Carpenter shared a sentiment that D.C. has grown accustomed to—the rent is too damn high. Her landlord was unwilling to negotiate down from a 66 percent increase in rent, the post reads.

I never ate at Domku, but I assume that enough people liked it to keep the doors open for twelve years. Sometimes this is an attempt to chase out current businesses so the owners can ‘upgrade’ the building–this happened to local Adams-Morgan favorite Bardia’s New Orleans Cafe–though it has been a year and there hasn’t been anything going on in the building. Often what the owners are trying to do is capitalize on the increase in the value of the location (i.e., they want to sell).

Regardless of the reason, these rent hikes destroy local businesses that make the neighborhood worth living in. Keep in mind, no one really wants to see these restaurants (or other stores) leave. While rent control for housing is a contentious issue, local businesses, which don’t export their profits away from the community, should be protected from rent hikes.

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