Metro expansion helped transform DC neighborhood

It's hard to overstate the effect of public transportation on a city. An inventive and reliable transit system can help a metro become more navigable, more orderly and even improve the region's economy. Furthermore, expanding public transportation can help transform wasted space into thriving commercial centers, business districts or residential communities. People considering buying one of the homes for sale in Washington, DC, may be interested to hear about how a recent update to a local train line helped convert a desolate stretch of land into a rapidly strengthening neighborhood.

When the District's Green Line opened in 1999, it helped spur many positive changes, including rising property values and decreasing crime rates, according to Transportation Nation. Columbia Heights may have been the community most positively affected by the Metro's expansion. Prior to the renovation, the neighborhood was beleaguered by crime, transient residents and scant development. In fact, it was one of the hardest hit communities in the District when race riots swept through the city in the wake of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, according to Urban Turf.

However, when the Green Line opened its Columbia Heights Metro station, the local atmosphere improved substantially. Now, the 20010 ZIP code - which houses Columbia Heights - is the tenth fastest gentrifying neighborhood in the country, according to U.S. Census data compiled by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

In the years since, shops, for-sale homes and offices have sprouted up, turning the area into one of the most desirable living locations in the city. In many ways, the district is unrecognizable from what it was just a decade ago. In fact, Ward 1 Councilman Jim Graham sometimes can't believe how much has changed.

"Where we are sitting right now was a house that was taken over by squatters who lived here without running water," he said in an on-site interview with Transportation Nation. But, looking around it is clear to Graham that things have changes in the neighborhood for the better. "The Green Line made an enormous difference in terms of transforming what were vacant lots with chain link fences which gave rise to crime and other undesirable activities. So the Metro was key."

With this strengthening influence, Columbia Heights quickly turned from a place where few homebuyers wished to venture into one that is now competing with many of the other top-notch neighborhoods in the District, such as Logan Circle and Adams Morgan.