10 Mar 2015

Gentrification refers to a process of urban renewal wherein a neighbourhood or city develops economically so that original residents are displaced. It is often defined by an influx of wealthier residents and businesses, resulting in an increase in property values. Improvements to community facilities and infrastructure may soon follow. Many times, the gentrification process begins when low-income communities attract artists and students with a high degree of cultural capital. These bohemian neighbourhoods attract activity and social influence, drawing in real estate developers and small business. As crime subsequently drops, more affluent individuals move in and property values rise effectively pricing out the original creative community.

Gentrification is considered to be largely a positive economic development by some, and frowned upon by others. The proponents of gentrification point to economic growth, higher employment, lower crime, and higher incomes for the area. Detractors cite the displacement of poorer residents which can lead to homelessness, loss of affordable housing, displacement of industrial zones, and potential real estate bubbles caused by speculative investment.

A recent example of gentrification in America occurred in neighbourhoods of Brooklyn, NY such as Williamsburg, Greenpoint and DUMBO. Once primarily industrial and commercial zones with high crime rates and low median incomes, these neighbourhoods underwent a transformation defined by artistic expression and creativity to trendy, gentrified communities with some of the highest real estate valuations in all of New York City currently rivalling that of Manhattan.

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