Whole Foods and gentrification are put under the spotlight in South Park's latest episode, "The City Part of Town," an episode that hits so close to Washington, D.C.'s development boom that it hurts. In the episode, Jimmy Fallon rips on South Park's alleged bumpkinness, which causes the city council to attempt to solve their "image problem." Their efforts involve constructing numerous residential developments around "historic Kenny's house" (deemed the most dilapidated part of the town), while creating a new neighborhood called, "SoDoSoPa," with upscale bars and restaurants. The main focus of the episode is the council attempting to woo Whole Foods to set up shop in the area, which according to the character Randy Marsh "would instantly validate us as a town that cares about stuff." This sentiment isn't too far from the truth as Washingtonian wrote, "Landing a Whole Foods near you can feel like winning one of Willy Wonka's golden tickets—a sign your neighborhood has arrived." The episode's focus on urban growth reflected Washington, D.C.'s own growth over the years.
One area in particular that has seen massive changes over the years is the Southeast neighborhood Navy Yard. Currently, roughly 4,500 residential units are under construction along with numerous new retail options. From 1999 to 2008/2012, the median income skyrocketed from under $38,000 to over $93,000, a 147 percent growth. Meanwhile, from 2000 to 2010, the number of African Americans decreased by 48 percent. While there's no Whole Foods in the area, the neighborhood has most certainly "arrived." (It's also worth noting that there is a Harris Teeter in the area). If interested in seeing how the South Park episode reflects Washington, D.C.'s efforts for urban growth, check out the episode here.
· Watch the episode, "The City Part of Town," here [South Park]
· Mapping Gentrification in Washington, D.C. [Curbed DC]