There Goes The Neighborhood

You know, when those people move in.

I mean, of course, right-wing think tank the American Enterprise Institute.

Work is finally finishing up on their new digs at the corner of 18th and P Streets NW:

Aei

Leaving aside my political predilections–or jokes about shipping them to another ward–this is really bad housing and planning policy. Here’s why:

thinktanks2

The building is literally two minutes from Dupont Circle, in a city with a housing shortage and… they housed a think tank there. Historically, that building used to be housing, though they were essentially one floor mansions*. Still, this could have easily housed twenty five or thirty nice apartments. Meanwhile much of that block is taken up by various think tanks. If we extrapolate from surrounding apartment buildings, it’s not a stretch to claim these buildings could be replaced by over 300 apartments (probably closer to 350) without any changes in building height**.

Fucking think tanks.

In the interest of balance, the SEIU building south of the circle is a goddamn architectural disaster, and that could probably hold seventy or eight units, again without increasing the height of the building.

In all seriousness, with the urban housing shortage being a hot issue right now (never mind that it’s the looming suburban crisis that should scare the hell out of us), one thing that is neglected is how many cities, D.C. included, in the 1970s and 1980s mowed down swathes of housing and mixed unit buildings. At the time it sort of made sense: people were still fleeing to the suburbs (though most by then had already left). More critically, cities were cash-strapped and office buildings generate as much, if not more, revenue as the housing they replaced, but without the costs of caring for people (i.e., no schools, etc.). Unfortunately, once the housing is gone and replaced with office buildings, the housing usually doesn’t come back.

We need the housing–and not micro-units aimed at people who make a minimum of $125,000 per year.

*Really. Five bedrooms–not including the four servants’ quarter rooms. And there was a ‘behind the scenes’ staff passage way–so our betters would never have to witness the hoi polloi moving from one part of the floor to another.

**For NIMBY-related reasons (it really had nothing to do with the Washington Monument), D.C. has height limitations on its buildings. Because we are a colony.

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One Response to There Goes The Neighborhood

  1. skeptic7 says:

    I would really like to know what those apartments looked like at the height of their glory — 4 bedrooms and 4 more in the servant’s quarters! Do you have a floor plan or pictures?

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