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photos by Lara Shipley

Bobos in the Hood

March 30th, 2004 · No Comments

Roommate Chuck informed me today that the new Starbucks on the corner of 13th and U—the presence of which I’ll confess I greeted with some glee, since I can now get good coffee beans without trucking over to Whole Foods—is owned by Magic Johnson, part of his practice of investing to “give back to the community.” I was a little incredulous: “He’s giving the community a Starbucks?”

But on reflection, it makes some sense. Apparently, the Logan Circle neighborhood “tipped” after being relatively sketchy for a long time soon after that Whole Foods at 15th and P was built. There’s something of a chicken-and-egg problem there (was it built because developers projected it was about to “tip” anyway?) but one might at least speculate that the incursion of a few of these bobo-friendly establishments—Starbucks, Whole Foods, Anthropologie, whatever—can start a kind of gentrifying cascade, a kind of reverse broken windows effect. That is, assuming the neighborhood is at least pretty close to some already gentrified areas, it both starts to draw in Bobo money from neighboring areas, draws in other similar businesses (a cluster effect: if Bobos are going to Whole Foods, have some other Bobo-friendly businesses near by on the still-cheap real estate), and sends a signal about what kind of neighborhood one is in.

As a test, I’ll check to see if, post-Starbucks, there’s any decline in the weekly streams of broken car windows running along the side of 13th…

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