Buzzard point was once an area filled with slums and overcrowding that pervaded the area with new federal buildings and townhomes. Marion Barry was arrested in 2002 when traces of marijuana and cocaine were found in his car after he was stopped in the Buzzard Point area of Southwest D.C. (CNN). Between 1984 and the 1990’s, this area, along with the rest of D.C., was hit with the “crack epidemic,” which came along with violent crime. However, urban renewal and new leadership have contributed to a dramatic fall in violent crime over the last twenty years.
Some neighborhoods in D.C. in the 90’s were off limits to anyone who knew about the violence. 64 violent deaths occurred between S Capital S SE and 8th Street alone between 1987 and 2004 alone. Though, as these neighborhoods became filled with luxury condo havens in the 2000’s, new residents invaded the area. Between 1980 and 2010, residents with a high school diploma have doubled and poverty rate has decreased by 7 percent. Furthermore, average family income has increased by 31 percent in Buzzard point. The area has also become a safer place to be. Violent crimes per 1000 residents have decreased by 9. When comparing the data between residents and crime in Buzzard point between 1980 and 2010, a correlation can be made. Because residency of the area has evolved into to middle-upper class households with a substantial income, crime rates have taken a turn for the better.
What attracted these new residents in Buzzard point however, is urban renewal. In 2003, development in Southwest waterfront began to bloom. Architects set out to build fancier, more pricey living facilities, targeting wealthier residents. This is a prime example of how Sarah Schindler explains discriminatory architecture in her article. She states that “regulation through architecture is just as powerful as law, but it is less explicit, less identifiable, and less familiar to courts, legislators, and the general public,”(Schindler 1940), meaning that exclusion could be done under everyone’s noses, and it wouldn’t be against the law. In this case, resident’s with a lower income are being pushed out so that the neighborhood is more exclusive to upper class buyers. In Southwest Waterfront prices began to change: “depending on the building, co-op apartments and condos start around $150,000 to $250,000 and can go for up to $1 million or more,” (Southwest Waterfront), which are prices the average joe definitely wouldn’t be able to afford. Only successful white collar workers with a high income can afford to live in these spaces. However, with newly found residents who can afford these high taxes and renovation fees, it makes the area a prime candidate for new businesses and attractions. A new project, The Wharf, promises new restaurants, retail stores, and other new businesses. This will attract a plethora of tourists, making Buzzard Point and the Southwest Waterpark region a prime destination. This additionally entails the change of economic status of the area.
Along with urban renewal, new leadership has contributed to the fall in crime rate and drug use of Buzzard Point. D.C’s current Mayor, Muriel Bowser, “pledges to reduce synthetic drug distribution and consumption.” She plans to do this by introducing new emergent legislation and providing a new strategy to get drugs of the streets. This new strategy entails that “MPD [will create] one centralized, citywide drug unit under the Narcotics and Special Investigations Division, and [create] a Criminal Interdiction Unit to keep DC at the forefront of crime prevention and law enforcement,” (Baskin). As opposed to Marion Barry, she has taken a more authoritative course of action to keep drugs off the streets of D.C. Because drugs usually entail crime through gang violence, the less drugs being used, the more violent crime will decrease in the city.
Over the years, Buzzard Point has transformed from a dangerous home for low-income residents, to a peaceful residential hub. Urban renewal has attracted educated residents with a higher income, thus leading to a decrease in violent crime in the neighborhood. Furthermore, Muriel Bowser has “cracked down” on synthetic drug use and has new strategies to decrease drug intake, which will essentially decrease violent crime. Buzzard point is becoming a prime candidate for new businesses, and will break out of it’s isolated shell.
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