REITs, Gentrification, and Displacement in Washington’s Inner Suburbs

Authors: Carolyn Gallaher*, American University
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: Inner Suburbs, Gentrification, REITS
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Palladian, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper examines REIT-owned properties in Washington’s inner suburbs and their connection to gentrification. Although many of Washington DC’s inner suburbs are “typical”—i.e. they have relatively high levels of poverty and crime, large proportions of foreign-born residents, and poor retail options—the DC metro’s rapid growth means these sites are ripe for gentrification. As case studies I examine two heavily immigrant suburbs in the Washington Metropolitan region—Annandale in Fairfax County and “Chirilagua” in Alexandria. Annandale has a high proportion of Asian immigrants while “Chirilagua” is a largely El Salvadoran community. This paper is descriptive and analytic. I begin by mapping the distribution of REIT owned properties in both areas. I then qualitatively track the history of these properties, including when they were purchases by REITS, what investments (if any) have been made to them, property managers experience managing these properties, and residents experiences dealing with faceless landlords. Analytically, I hope to determine the types of gentrification ‘pathways’ that REIT owned properties are taking in these neighborhoods. I hypothesize that REIT ownership can kick-start the gentrification of property or delay it through major disinvestment that will eventually allow for new build construction.

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