Gentrification is the term for when typically wealthier people arrive in a neighbourhood and as a result the area changes for what many perceive as better. As a result the feel of the area can change. While change is to be expected as nothing in life remains static not all change is equally as desired. Now I’m 27 and have gained some degree of life experience I have experienced some degree of both sides of the argument for and against gentrification.
Your hometown will be freshened up and the number of derelict buildings of buildings in a neglected state will start to diminish.
Less undesirable behavior takes place in your town No one enjoys to hear that people are being abused in the street by a group of youths. Rubbish dumped in the street most days a week does not serve to encourage others (including visitors) to treat your town much better. Polite society typically doesn’t tolerate undesirable behavior for long.
More ability to take pride in your town I’ve heard of people who were never particularly proud of the towns they lived in, that’s until gentrification came to town. Now that the local councils are taking rubbish collecting and social problems seriously the town is visibly improving and people who would have never thought of visiting are probably thinking of passing by.
Restoration of older buildings Many towns and cities have buildings that are worse for wear. Gentrification can and usually does restore these to a respectable standard and the locals can be proud that their building is now in a presentable state.
Loss of culture or character of the town A lot of towns that have been gentrified have had their own subculture or feel to them. Nowadays while these towns look nice they often possess no sense of soul.
Community spirit While its fantastic to see some of the towns past problems disappear this can be at a tradeoff of community spirit. As nice as a new supermarket is, very little sense of community spirit will be found there.
Specific communities can lose their community I have experienced this twice in the city of London first hand. There’s a Latin/Southern American community in North London I know of fairly well. This community has had to fight more than once to keep it. I also know of a lesbian bar I used to frequent that now is no more. There is only one left in the entire city. If you rely on specific communities like this at all then this is an obvious downside to gentrification.
Increasing rents Even if the cultural aspect manages to remain (or to some degree) many can be forced out due to rising rents and prices of goods and services. Not everyone is a high flyer in the career sense and that’s OK. Some of us a happy being working class and have no true interest or desire for the boardroom or anything remotely similar. However these people can be priced out of their own neighborhood fairly quickly.
The area loses out forever I know that the Latin/Southern American communities building was going to be bulldozed at one time. This was with the intention of building handful of designer shops and an appartement block. A lot of the areas character and charm will be lost and there would be little reason for people to want to visit that area over any other that already has designer shops. No amount of money, no matter how well-intentioned can buy community spirit or cultural identity.
Ultimately I think it can work well at times but only if the local culture and community is preserved (including any specialist or international communities). I am not so keen if there is no effort taken to retain the culture of an area.
La Reina Razonable