In the past thirty years the neighborhood in which the Westin Washington D.C. City Center is located has become completely transformed. According to a recent Washington Post article, “As bulldozers and cranes remove the last of 14th Street’s body shops and rundown carryouts, young professionals and empty nesters are scooping up million-dollar condos. Many storefronts under construction are dotted with “Opening Soon” signs” (Koncius). In other words, old local businesses in Thomas Circle have closed and been replaced with upscale condos which cater to a different type of clientele then Thomas Circle’s original residents. What makes certain businesses, such as the Westin Washington D.C. City Center, able to survive throughout the course of gentrification is their ability to adapt and change to meet the evolving standards set by the new residents of the area. The body shops and rundown carryouts that the article references failed to survive because they were unable to evolve with the neighborhood.
The Westin Washington D.C. City Center responded to its every changing surroundings with a seventeen million dollar interior renovation in 2014. This was the first major interior renovation that the hotel went through and it represents a turning point in the hotel’s history because it demonstrates how the hotel had to change in order to survive in gentrified neighborhood. According to a post on a travel website, “The 406-room Westin Washington, D.C. City Center recently completed a $17 million renovation. The hotel made upgrades to its guest rooms, restaurant, lobby, and meeting facilities this past summer, and now, the hotel feels comfortable, offers great service and is located only a few blocks from the White House” (Martin). This comment demonstrates how the hotel is now considered a desirable place to stay because it upgraded its features to meet the increasingly high standards of the neighborhood clientele. This shows that as a neighborhood becomes increasingly gentrified local business that at one point might have met neighborhood standards need to upgrade in order to still be considered trendy or luxurious enough to survive. Additionally, the features that were upgraded were all targeted towards guests traveling to Washington for business, which has become a huge part of the hotel’s clientele as Thomas Circle has transformed from a so called “bad part of town” to a trendy place populated by young adults making it into the business world.
By the time the renovations were complete, Thomas Circle had been completely gentrified. When the hotel first opened it’s doors, the neighborhood was known for being a local hub for prostates and drugs. The hotel brought a new atmosphere to the area by transforming it into a haven for business people and tourists. However, Thomas Circle eventually became so gentrified that the very hotel that sparked this change became outdated. As the area transformed several other hotels opened on the same block, which effectively destroyed the Westin Washington D.C. City Center’s monopoly in the area. The owners of the hotel combated this by investing millions of dollars into an interior renovation, with the hopes that it would allow them to stand out in an ever competitive market. In the end, the renovations brought in a new wave of clientele, who were excited about the fresh new amenities.
The ability of businesses, such as the Westin Washington D.C. City Center, to adapt in the face of gentrification, is imperative to their survival. If the Westin Washington D.C. City Center failed to adapt by renovating their interior, they too would have been just another business shut down due to the changing demographics of Thomas Circle. However, when local businesses adapt and change they are actually helping gentrify the area because they are further changing the rhetoric of the area. The hotel that paved the way to an era of gentrification started to be negatively impacted by it, showing that no one is truly safe from the effects of gentrification.
Koncius, Jura. “Destination Design: Where to Shop on 14th Street NW.” The Washington Post, Jun 26 2013, ProQuest Central, http://proxyau.wrlc.org/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1371845961?accountid=8285.
“Lobby of Washington D.C. City Center.” Living Social Inc., www.livingsocial.com/escapes/properties/66181-westin-washington-dc-city-center.
Martin, Caitlin. “Highlights From the Westin Washington D.C. City Center’s Multi-million Dollar Renovation.” Johnny Jet, 26 February 2016, http://www.johnnyjet.com/the-westin-d-c-city-centers-multi-million-dollar-renovation/.
Martin, Caitlin. “Lobby Looking Down From Interior Atrium Suite.” Johnny Jet, www.johnnyjet.com/the-westin-d-c-city-centers-multi-million-dollar-renovation/.
“Vista International Hotel Washington DC Color Postcard.” Etsy, www.etsy.com/listing/247553439/vintage-postcard-vista-international?ref=market.
“Westin Washington D.C. City Center.” Travel Pony, www.travelpony.com/hotel/westin-washington-dc-city-center.