Gentrification. What it is and why it isn’t Town Creek.
By Logan Christiansen
Gentrification seems to be a hot topic these days. From CNN, to The Wall Street Journal, Ted Talks and even South Park, everyone seems to be weighing in on this growing trend. But what exactly is gentrification?
Gentrification is both a cultural and economic process. Gentrification begins with people moving to an older neighbor in an inner city. They begin to restore or "flip" these neighborhoods into hip, downtown hot spots, and begin to attract higher income residents, restaurants, and businesses.
That all sounds greats right?
If you are an investor you get to buy low and sell high, if you are a business owner you can open your business in a new trendy part of town, and reach a new clientele.
However, there is a flip side to this growing trend, that may not be so glamorous. In many of these neighborhoods, people who have lived there for years may no longer afford to shop in their own neighborhoods because of the development around them. As housing prices and property taxes go up, they may not be able to afford to live there at all.
That is the issue most people have with Gentrification. The forcing of people from their homes due to an econmic gap.
A concept often confused with gentrification is New Urbanism.Town Creek is based on the concepts of New Urbanism, which began in the 1980's as a response to the Post World War II Suburbanism.
The Post War Suburanism promised the American dream. It promised returning veterans community, and nature and convenience of an easy commute to work. Suburban America was born. However, in the 1980's people started to see that the Suburban dream wasn't always all it was cracked up to be. Instead of community, you lived behind gates with pin codes and hid from your neighbors. You didn't get nature, you got a little yard that you have to maintain or the HOA would write you a letter. To add injury to insult, as suburban communities grew, you certainly didn't get that easy commute to work.
That realization that the Suburban dream was a lie is what lead to New Urbanism. Some of the main tenets of New Urbanism are walkabilty, quality of life and mixed use.
Walkabilty is the ability to well... walk where you need to go. Wouldn't it be nice to get the family together and walk to a dinner out instead of spending 20 minutes battling traffic?
Quality of life is a huge focus of New Urbanism, with planning of nature and park space as well as a community. The focus on this "quality of life" means that the community is planned intentionally to have benefits for the residents and to create a sense of an integrated community, rather than building as many cookie-cutter houses as possible in a 5 acre area.
Finally, intentional Mixed Use means that housing, and businesses are designed to attract tenants of many different types and across many different income brackets. For example, Town Creek consists of cottages, lofts, townhouses and freestanding homes, all designed to attract different people. The same principle is used for the businesses located within Town Creek with the ultimate goal of having many of the residents' daily needs within a short walks distance. This is done intentionally in order to promote a diverse, inclusive community, instead of only attracting one small subset of the population.
The focus of New Urbanism isn't in making an exclusive living area by displacing others (which is often associated with gentrification) but rather making an inclusive community for all kinds of people to enjoy nature, community and life.