Drawn by the cheap housing and the beautiful
architecture, a few pioneers braved the high
crime in the 1970s and '80s and decided to go
into the neighborhood as investors. Connie Maffin
was one of them. She and her husband, Bob, bought
a brownstone in 1974. When they would come home
late at night, they would occasionally hear a
prostitute and her client cavorting under the
stairs leading to their front entrance.
Ms. Maffin united with others willing to change
the neighborhood. They spent years working with
local police and took turns standing on the
street corners on weekend nights to deter the
Johns who drove in from northern Virginia.
Slowly, as crime waned, businesses began to take
a look. Today, the neighborhood hosts a number of
successful, locally owned businesses along with
that symbol of yuppie living: a Whole Foods
Market. Houses that sold for less than $500,000
in 1997 are now selling for $1.8 million.
Logan Circle residents had been urging Whole
Foods to open a store there for several years.
Finally, in 1998, Michael Besancon, the company's
regional president at the time, agreed to go in,
believing that violent crime was starting to wane
-- even though drug addicts were passed out in
the former auto dealership building where he
located the store. It became the first major
grocery store to open in the District of Columbia in 20 years.
The article covers several other success stories, too, including New York, Los Angeles's Skid Row, and even Detroit! It's a pretty good read if you can find a copy. Drop me a note if you can't find a copy, and I might be able to help you find one.