When I was growing up in Topeka, Kansas, there was a most un-chic neighborhood with a lot of very thin at the elbows Victorian homes. Most of them were run down boarding houses for students at the local university. You know! Peeling paint. Saggy porches. All the evils.
Years later, I came back for a high school reunion and my rented car sort of involuntarily turned onto the main street of this formerly funky community.
And my heart skipped a beat!
The streets were lined with magnificently restored painted ladies, with English gardens in round-abouts at each intersection. It was enough to make me think about moving back to Topeka, until later that night the tornado sirens went off! But this place had come from incredible funk to totally hip.
And today, I was pondering - what elements have to be present to create the conditions for a neighborhood transformation?
- You have to have great housing stock. The homes can be run down, but if they have their architectural integrity in tack and good bones, they can be restored.
- In Washington, many neighborhoods have revived around new subway stops. Other types of development can have a big impact on residential areas nearby.
- The less perma-stone the better!
- My bet is that this kind of transformation is more likely in a neighborhood closer than downtown than one in a far suburb.
And right now I'm looking for this neighborhood in Washington, DC. It seems like they've all been taken. Got any ideas?