Cohesive communities are beneficial to neighborhoods and their residents in many ways. Individuals are better poised for success and can overcome challenges with the backing of a tight-knit community and strong support systems (Gcphonline, 2014). Though the use of cohesive communities, residents can also protect their communities from outside shocks, influence policy decisions through neighborhood engagement, and lower crime through forming neighborhood watch associations and other groups (World Bank, 2013).
Cohesive communities can be formed around cultural or religious anchors. Associations and buildings can also act as the glue to keep neighborhoods together.
Ivy City residents can also build community bonds through activities at local restaurants, the new distilleries in the neighborhood, or their local Starbucks.
The most exciting community building is still in development. The community center and community garden planned for the Crummell school redevelopment area could prove to be a major community anchor. Perhaps it could act as a bridge between current residents, historical treasures, and future residents and businesses moving to the area.
Gcphonline. (2014, Feb 5). Supporting resilience. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/eHyv_LFXkVU
World Bank (2013, Oct 4). Cohesive communities create resilience. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/lvVHvr4ib24
Through the use of the ArcGIS mapping system, we can look at our neighborhood in terms of detailed analysis in addition to our general observations through touring the area and interacting with residents. In walking through the Ivy City neighborhood, I have noticed that there are not a lot of healthy grocery stores available, with the exception of the MOMs Organic grocery store, located in the redeveloped area surrounding the Hecht Warehouse. After chatting with local stakeholders I reviewed mapping data on ArcGIS and found that Ivy City does have an issue with the availability of healthy food options, specifically with grocery stores.
Another aspect of resident health is access to exercise options. Within the Hecht Warehouse redevelopment area, there are several fitness options – Bikram Yoga, CrossFit, and Planet Fitness. However, there are definitely opportunities for additional fitness clubs to come to the area. As seen in the map, there are only a handful of fitness options, all of which are the in the Hecht Warehouse area.
Housing in Ivy City includes a wide range of options in terms of safety.
There is the newly redeveloped Hecht Warehouse, which is a mixed-use development area and includes high-end apartments.
There are also residential townhouses and homes that have been rebuilt or redeveloped by residents. Also, Habitat for Humanity has a few redevelopment projects in the neighborhood as well. The organization is helping to enhance housing options for residents in the area, through volunteers and monetary contributions.
However, there are still several unsafe or unhealthy living options in Ivy City. These include houses, townhouses, and other buildings with broken or boarded-up windows. It is unknown if these buildings have current tenants or if they are simply vacant. Vacant buildings, both in an industrial and residential setting are not helpful in ensuring safe and secure living for neighborhood residents. The vacant or boarded up properties should not be looked at as lost causes. Instead these areas can be viewed as future redevelopment opportunities. As mentioned previously, Habitat for Humanity is already active in the neighborhood, helping to redevelop safe and affordable housing options for residents. These buildings can also be redeveloped through other programs and in other ways.
Traffic congestion and pollution
The area surrounding the Hecht Warehouse is one of the pockets within Ivy City that has already seen redevelopment. Within this area in the neighborhood, developers have sought to decrease traffic congestion and pollution through including a bike share area. Traffic in the surrounding areas doesn’t seem to be very bad during the times I visited the neighborhood, with the exception of the major road – New York Avenue. However, traffic could be an issue in the future as this neighborhood continues to be developed (businesses continue to attract internal and external customers, and residents become more active in the area). It is nice to see that in the redevelopment plans, it appears as though developers are trying to lay the foundation to mitigate some of these risks now, with the availability of bicycle sharing programs.
Access to public transportation - The Ivy City neighborhood does not have a metro station in close proximity. However, the neighborhood does have access to the metro bus. Washington DC is currently in plans for streetcars throughout the city. Perhaps, with additional development within Ward 5 and Ivy City in general, a business case could be made to the city to allow for a streetcar stop to be added in the area.
The neighborhood of Ivy City is nestled within Ward 5 in Washington, D.C. In the last few years, this neighborhood and others in the New York Avenue gateway area in Ward 5 have experienced some redevelopment.
Where does this neighborhood stand now? And what are its current strengths and growth opportunities?
History: The Ivy City neighborhood is fortunate enough to have two historical buildings within its neighborhood - the Hecht Warehouse and the Crummell School.
Positive examples of redevelopment already occurring: The Hecht Warehouse has already experienced some of the focused redevelopment that is occurring within Ivy City. The Hecht Warehouse area is now a mixed-use area, with apartments towering about business space. Included in this development is MOM's Organic grocery store, the Nike Store, Bikram Hot Yoga, and smaller businesses like Sip & Dry Bar, Ari's Diner, and BicycleSpace. The Hecht Warehouse mixed-use area also has wider sidewalks that are dotted with trees. More than just pleasing to the eye, these wider sidewalks help to promote walking among residents and foot-traffic for businesses.
And more development is expected to continue! Plans for the historic Crummell School will see another historical building renovated and most importantly, these plans were developed with the interests of current residents in mind. The Crummell redevelopment area will include a community center and neighborhood garden (items the neighborhood is currently missing) in addition to mixed-use spaces.
Moves to improve housing opportunities: Habitat for Humanity is active in our neighborhood, as it moves to make more affordable housing options in Washington, D.C.
Green spaces: There is some park space within the Ivy City neighborhood. However, more functional green spaces can be developed. The plans for a community garden within the Crummell School redevelopment area will help, but more green space areas will help to provide a healthy habitat for residents.
Grocery stores: With the exception of the MOM's organic market, there are not very many grocery store options within Ivy City. More grocery store options can help alleviate food deserts within city and help to improve resident health.
Access to public transportation: The Ivy City neighborhood is within DC bus routes and a bike share system has been set up in the Hecht Warehouse development area. However, more changes can be made to help residents have improved transportation options. Bike lanes can be created for those who want to take advantage of the bike share program. Additionally, Ivy City is not very close to a metro stop. However, the city currently has plans to develop street cars for some Washington DC neighborhoods. Street car options can be an interesting opportunity for Ivy City to increase their residents' options to public transportation and increase revenues for their local businesses.
Need for more businesses & more foot traffic: Redevelopment programs have already brought new business opportunities and new businesses into Ivy City. However, Ivy City streets can be quiet and there is room for more businesses. With a focused redevelopment effort and with partnerships with current residents, Ivy City can work to attract more businesses to move to redeveloped or existing areas within the neighborhood. This will help to increase foot traffic for local businesses and help to ensure that Ivy City thrives.
Ivy City's historic buildings
The Hecht Warehouse is a noticeable fixture in Ivy city and currently home to luxury apartments. But according to a Washington post article in 2015, the building faced in foreclosure in 2011.
Built by Hecht’s department store, this historic building was “built in 1937 in an art deco architectural....[and] was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994” (Judkis, 2015).
After falling into foreclosure, the Hecht Warehouse was redeveloped into high-end apartments. It is also home to Ivy City’s MOM’s Organic Market.
Alexander Crummell School
Built in 1911 and named for an abolitionist, the Alexander Crummell School was a historically black elementary school, according to the Friends of Crummell School website:
“The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002 and listed as one of DC’s Most Endangered Places by the DC Preservation League in 2013” (Friends of Crummell School – History of Ivy City). Despite its historical status, the building fell into disrepair.
According to an article in the Washington Business Journal, the Crummell School redevelopment plan is one of the first to work corporately with Ivy city’s residents. Instead of simply building, this program solicited feedback and it really shows. In addition to new, higher-end townhomes, “plans for the school site include community open space, an urban garden, working farm, restaurant and other commercial spaces” (Goff, 2016). Also, as mentioned previously, the school is a historic building and the redevelopment plans will honor this by maintaining Washington DC’s ownership of the building (Goff, 2016). Hopefully, this will ensure the continued cooperation between businesses, redevelopers, and the community to create a truly thriving neighborhood.