Gentrification. Â I have heard the term thrown around since I have been in Boston and for a long time I did not know exactly what it was. Â The word sounded positive. Â The "gentile" part of the word just made it sound like it meant improving an area. Â The term is thrown around when dealing with up an coming areas, South Boston, Dorchester, Roxbury, and most loudly, Jamaica Plain.
The Whole Foods issue in JP brought gentrification to my attention and I wanted to learn a bit more about the phenomena as I do business and live in Jamaica Plain and I hear the wordÂ thrownÂ around a lot. Â To start with lets define gentrification.
According to Wikipedia , "GentrificationÂ andÂ urban gentrificationÂ are terms referring to the socio-cultural displacement that results when wealthier people acquire property in low income and working class communities.
So gentrification actually is a negative term that means people with lower incomes are priced out of neighborhoods. Â So, gentrification happens as a by product of vitalization, or the improvement of an area.
other aspects that follow gentrification:
There is also a cultural aspect to gentrification where the people moving in to an area do not share the same heritage or culture and as a neighborhood changes the previous residents become priced out of the area.
In my mindÂ gentrificationÂ is anÂ inescapable result of improvement to an area. Â Across the nation people have been moving back to city centers for quite some time and as the demand rises for these areas price will continue to rise as well. Â Areas will change, this isÂ inescapable and many people have to deal with the housing costs. Â I would say that the trade off is well worth it. Â A drop in crime, renovation of formerly blighted areas, and city improvements to follow as a result of the higher income tax paid by the residents of the area. Â Parts of the city such as Dorchester, South Boston and Jamaica Plain are the next logical places to undergo theÂ vitalizationÂ process. Â There was a time not so long ago when the South End was considered a dangerous neighborhood, the Fenway had a reputation for seedy and dangerous people in the park, and the Charlestown Navy Yard would never have been considered a nice place to live. Â Now those neighborhoods are spectacular places to live full of art and culture.
Were people displaced from these neighborhoods? Â Absolutely. Â In retrospect I would say it was a change for the good. Â I would equate gentrification with growing pains for an area as it counters the urban decay that took place in cities across the US in the 70's. Â Ultimately the market will only drive prices so high in an area and I would much rather live in a place with a higher price with better quality, less crime and blighted areas rather than a cheap locale full of trash strewn vacant lots Â and boarded up windows. Â Look at a place like Detroit, I bet they would love someÂ gentrification.