UP584 Winter 2018 (Economic Development Planning): Examples of Gentrification

To engage and illustrate our discussion of gentrification and its complexities, please post examples of gentrifying neighborhoods, processes, political battles, etc. -- a wide variety of examples encouraged. Remember that there is no singular definition or characteristic of gentrification, so I encourage you to use your example to illustrate one variation of gentrification. (For some, gentrification focuses on the new residents and their housing and consumer patterns. For others, gentrification is about what happens to the existing residents: whether they are displaced, where they move, or how they resist or adapt to this neighborhood transformation. Some researchers have focused on the institutional, regulatory and real-estate dynamics of gentrification.) And one invariably wonders about the difference (if easily articulated) between gentrification and "normal" urban (re)development and change.

Instructions for students: everyone registered in URP584 has editing access to this document; be sure to be signed in using your umich account. You may need to click on the pencil icon to edit. I have already created some text boxes below where you can insert your examples. When you are done, click "publish" at the top of the page. Be sure to not delete any existing examples... (And for Mac users: best to use Chrome or Firefox; Safari doesn't always allow you to edit.)


  • include a title, the location of your example, and your name.
  • Briefly describe the gentrification process, symptoms, and/or politics.
  • (optional) include an image or a map
  • include any sources (with url links, if relevant), including sources for images and maps.

We began this page last year for the winter 2017 economic development course, so we are building on those students' contributions. Please add your own. You might find examples from class readings, web searches, or your own experiences and travels. Both US and international examples welcomed. Thanks! Scott Campbell

(Note: the image at the top of the page is from Toronto, Oct. 13, 2013, Photo: S Campbell).


(image source: http://www.visitseattle.org/neighborhoods/columbia-city/)

Columbia City, Seattle

The Columbia City neighborhood (map) is centered along Rainer Avenue, about 4 miles SSE of downtown Seattle. The neighborhood has had a reputation for being affordable and diverse. It now shows up on many "hot neighborhoods of Seattle" lists. Obvious signs of change include the large PCC Natural Market and the new condos along Rainer Avenue. Housing prices can now exceed $500k (see realtor.com listings). A single block of Rainer Avenue contains Senegalese, Caribbean, Italian, Asian Fusion, American and pub restaurants (yelp). The area seems to be at that fluid moment of transition where a long-established African-American barbershop and an upscale wine shop exist side-by-side -- but for how long?


(S Campbell)


Harlem, NYC -Haley Z

Harlem is changing. Historic buildings are being torn town, such as The Renaissance where Duke Ellington performed and Childs Memorial Temple Church where Malcom X's funeral was held. In 2008, black-owned businesses made up 80% of the commercial district, but that has shrunk to only 63% in 2015. 53.2% rent increase from 1990-2014. There were 672 whites in 1990 and 13,800 in 2008, a fivefold increase. 2,500 rent-stabilized units or subsidized units disappeared from East Harlem between 2007 and 2014, and 2,300 are projected to be removed by 2030.

“When there are limited options for survival as black people, they have nothing left to do but to sell themselves. Yes finally, we are being valued. But we are being valued within a market. We are not being valued within civil society.”


"For so many privileged New Yorkers, Whole Foods is just the corner store. But among the black and working-class residents of Harlem, who have withstood red-lining and neglect, it might as well be Fortnum and Mason. To us, our Harlem is being remade, upgraded and transformed, just for them, for wealthier white people." -Adams


Oakland, CA

The Silicon Valley tech boom has generated an influx of young, highly educated and skilled workers to move to the Bay Area. With more high-income residents, San Francisco has developed the most unforgiving real estate market, with high rents, high property taxes, and high living expenses. Oakland has historically been low-income, save for the adjacent affluent suburbs like Berkeley, and has historically been predominately African-American. However, in the past twenty years, as Silicon Valley continues to boom, Oakland has shifted from being a low-income neighborhood, and thus affordable, to a ripe field of more competitive real estate market. And with incomes for under-skilled labor remaining the same (if not declining) long-time Oakland residents are finding it harder to stay. Additionally, the racial demographics have changed significantly, from predominately African-American to new white neighbors.

To nod to the Hackworth/Smith reading, the local government has done little to intervene with the gentrification process, but has helped to support the "development" and "growth" of Oakland, and other areas in the Bay Area. According to the Greenlining Institute, they "found that major banks (Bank of American, Wells Fargo, etc.) issued a much smaller number of home mortgage loans in Oakland compared to Fresno and Long Beach." Also, African-American and Latino borrowers in Oakland were approved at lower rates than Whites. This disparity in mortgage lending by major banks in Oakland, along with the low numbers of mortgage loan applications and lower loan approval rates for African-American and Latino customers, is perpetuating and exacerbating wealth disparities, and perpetuating gentrification. With this trend, there are limited other options for low-income mortgage borrowers, a gap that the local government could fill to stabilize mixed-income neighborhoods and support residents of color trying to compete in the rigorous real estate market.

-Ujijji Davis


Sugar House, Salt Lake City, Utah

This up-and-coming neighborhood in Utah’s capital city is an unusual one to be going through rapid gentrification. Downtown Salt Lake City and the University of Utah are about 15 minutes north of Sugar House, and the City of South Salt Lake touches its southern boundary. Once known as an an eclectic, funky and affordable part of this socially conservative city, Sugar House has seen an influx of money and development in recent years. A further expansion has come with the expansion of the Utah Transit Authority’s light rail (TRAX) and the opening of the Sugar House Streetcar, which connects the neighborhood with Downtown to the north and the job centers of Sandy, South Jordan and Provo to the south.

Some of this money has brought good things for the neighbhorhood: for example, houses have been rehabbed in recent past, and the Sugar House Theater has been reopened. However, this development has also seen residential and commercial rents throughout the neighborhood. Moreover, the new influx of people have impacted the way of life for the existing residents of Sugar House. Going forward, planners must take into account the neighborhood’s existing character with current and future development, as the Wasatch Front region grows significantly in the decades to come.

-Isaac Wolf







8th and Catalina, Koreatown, Los Angeles, CA

Some would say that all of LA is becoming gentrified, from predominantly Latino East LA to the "bad area" around USC (and even further to the south). Koreatown is no exception; a neighborhood of immigrants (Koreans, Filipinos, Bangladeshis, Salvadorians, Guatemalans, etc.) located in the middle of the city, it is seen as a cheap(er) place to live with all kinds of people rubbing elbows with each other. This specific development hits close to home for me; I served as an AmeriCorps member at the RFK Community Schools in Koreatown, which is catty-corner from the site. The 24-acre campus is home to six schools with 4,000 students, most of whom are Latino (fun fact: it is also the former site of the Ambassador Hotel, where Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated). Some of the concerns about the site stem from its proximity to the school, and the mismatch in density between the proposed lofts and the surrounding neighborhood. Current Mayor Eric Garcetti, generally a proponent for progressive causes, was been criticized for encouraging the "Manhattanization" of Hollywood while he was the Councilmember for that neighborhood. For this site on 8th and Catalina St, the mayor has bypassed the recommendations of the Los Angeles Planning Commission, which unanimously rejected the 27-story apartment tower. The surrounding neighborhood is relatively low-density, but has seen an increase in new developments in recent years. Koreatown (like all of LA) has issues with traffic and parking, so the 270 additional units would not help. The developer argues that the site is near(ish) to a subway station, so no need to worry about that (he may be willfully ignorant of LA car culture).

Is Mayor Garcetti a visionary trying to increase density of the infamously suburb-like metropolis that is Los Angeles? Or are he and the evil developer in cahoots to destroy a working-class neighborhood? You decide!

LA Times - "Garcetti overrules his own appointees for Koreatown developer," details on the Koreatown development; http://www.latimes.com/local/cityhall/la-me-koreatown-tower-20150518-story.html

LA Times - a nonprofit sues over this development project: http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-0420-koreatown-development-20160420-story.html

The webpage of "Stop Manhattanwood," a campaign that has a bunch of billboards up in Hollywood to bring attention to the new high-rise developments in the neighborhood: http://stopmanhattanwood.org/

A handy synopsis of a panel on gentrification and planning from UCLA's Luskin School of Public Affairs: http://newsroom.ucla.edu/stories/gentrification-in-l-a-isn-t-about-hipsters-becoming-your-neighbors

Bushwick, Brooklyn

In 1986 Martin Gottlieb of The New York Times wrote (Source 1): “In a five-year period in the late 1960's and early 70's, the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn was transformed from a neatly maintained community of wood houses into what often approached a no man's land of abandoned buildings, empty lots, drugs and arson.”. Transitioning to the 21st century’s second decade Bushwick tells a very different story, one that is epitomized by a short clip from Saturday Night Live (Source 2 – this example is not meant to offend anyone). In this clip, referenced in an Economist article (Source 3), we witness three African Americans discussing their activities around Bushwick whereupon their conversation is a satiric outlook on the changes that have occurred in the neighborhood that are familiarized with young hipsters.

I have never visited Bushwick but came upon several articles discussing the changes Bushwick went through, from the depleted and rundown neighborhood to what one reporter titled “the neighborhood that’s dethroned Williamsburg as Brooklyn’s most hipster” (Source 4). Household Income figures reveal a fascinating story, whereupon Households with an income of $200,000 or more have grown from 401 to 1,382 within five years (Income between $125,000-$149,999 increased from 1,010 to 2,406 and $150,000 to $199,999 increased from 783 to 1,290) (Source 5). Median Household Income increased by $6,143. The data also reveals the racial population changes between 2006 and 2015 whereupon the White population grew by 25,687 while the African Population only grew by 315 (Table 1). I end this brief report with a segment from a New Yorker article titled “There Goes the Neighborhood”: “Things that happen across the street, down the block, or on the other side of town affect the worth of our homes, and this lack of control is predestined to frustrate capitalists and community organizers alike. “Bushwick is not for sale!” Letitia James, New York City’s Public Advocate, announced at a recent anti-gentrification protest in Brooklyn. She was hoping to get the city to force developers to set aside more units for low-income families, but she was also voicing a familiar and widely shared distaste for the way the character of the neighborhood is hostage to its market place (Source 6).

  • Gidon Jakar

Source 1: Martin Gotlieb, F.H.A. case recalls bushwick in 70's. The New York Times, February 2, 1986. Link

Source 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAsBta25OGQ

Source 3: Bring on the Hipsters: Gentrification is good for the poor. The Economist, February 19th, 2015. Link

Source 4: Lauren Price, Bushwick Buzz: A Look at the Neighborhood That’s Dethroned Williamsburg as Brooklyn’s Most Hipster. 6sqft, January 29th, 2015. Link

Source 5: American Community Survey (Social Explorer)

Source 6: Kelefa Sanneh, There Goes the Neighborhood: Is it really a problem when poor areas get richer. The New Yorker, July 11 & 18, 2016.

Maboneng Neighborhood, South Africa-Kururama

Maboneng was carved out of Jeppestown South Africa which is a working-class neighborhood in Johannesburg. Since 2009, it has developed at a high rate But surrounding Jeppestown is still mostly occupied by low-income black people. Maboneng is a distinctly hipster “cultural time zone”. It has bars, modernized restaurants, creative work spaces and loft-style apartments. Maboneng is the result of development aimed at creating Global Cities. A walk though Maboneng will




Columbia Heights, Washington DC --Esi

I have heard about Columbia Heights as one of DC's new "it" neighborhoods for some time but didn't see it until I visited a friend living there this past holiday. When you get off the stop at the DC yellow and green lines, you immediately come out onto big box stores and chain restaurants: Staples, Best Buy, Marshall's, a Washington Sports Club. The street is busy with buses and everything looked shiny and still somewhat new. However, as you walk around further from the metro, you can see where new and old are merging. An upscale New American restaurant next to an Internacional market, or a swanky coffee shop next to a store selling Hispanic votive candles. My friend, who has lived there for almost a year since moving from the Bronx, feels herself at the intersection of the gentrified and the old. She's certainly a new resident, one able to afford the higher rents and more expensive goods the new market is producing. However, as a Hispanic woman she hears from older residents that they feel they are being pushed out. They claim newer residents don't acknowledge them and there is little social overlap. Most of the new residents are white, while those who have left the neighborhood are largely black and Latino.Indeed, Columbia Heights has been noted as one of the fastest gentrifying neighborhoods. Median rent has increased by 50% since 2000 and home prices have doubled. Given the violence and struggles the neighborhood faced in its past, many could say that its current situation is more desirable, even as it continues to wrestle with gun violence and crime.

Given what I saw, the neighborhood is certainly on the list of places I'd like to live in DC. However, I'm aware that my friend and I, with out (theoretically) higher earning capacity, would also be gentrifiers ourselves, exactly the sort to want to move in but then keep things precisely as they are.





Lawrenceville, Pittsburgh, PA

Lawrenceville, until about 6 years ago, was historically an Irish working-class neighborhood. The area was hit very hard when steel manufacturing left the city. This area is filled with classic row homes and narrow streets and it just north west of Downtown Pittsburgh.

Over the past 6 years though, much has changed. Before it became relatively gentrified like it is currently, it was settled mainly by artists. From artists and with the new arts culture that really rose in the early 2000s, people began to invest in restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. One of these places on the main street of Lawrenceville, Butler Street, it La Gourmandine Bakery. They invested in this neighborhood when it was still rough and have continued this investing in bakeries in other parts of the city. (Fun fact: I worked at these bakeries this summer). Lawrenceville is attracting people from NY and SF for investments in restaurants, helping make Pittsburgh the 2016 Zagat Food City.

Lawrenceville is still relatively affordable (much of Pittsburgh is in comparison to other parts of the country) but there are still major issues in this area. It will be interesting to see this area 5 years from now.

-Emilie Yonan


Eastown, Grand Rapids, MI

The southeast side of Grand Rapids had long-suffered the problems of high crimes rates, absentee landlords, high vacancy rate, and blight. The Eastown neighborhood in southeast Grand Rapids, with particular emphasis on Wealthy Street, was no exception. It was frequently shown on the news for crime and GRPD involvement. In the past few years, however, there has been a huge boom in business which some claim correlates with a drop in crime rates. Wealthy Street now has a reputation for the interesting juxtaposition of new, flashy restaurants serving millennials alongside either vacant storefronts or long-standing, “not flashy” businesses. Wealthy Street is the face of gentrification in Eastown with changing business types and intended market. The housing market is beginning to change as well with upscale townhomes and apartments being built in a neighborhood with predominately single family homes, many of which are in varying states of disrepair.

Melissa Bloem




Google Maps

The images below are of the same building, about one year apart.

Pilsen, Chicago -- Augusta

This summer I lived in Pilsen, one of the fastest gentrifying neighborhoods in the city. Shortly after I arrived, my street erupted with groups carrying megaphones and hand-written signs protesting gentrification after a community institution, Casa Aztlán, was bought by a developer and its famous mural painted over with a neutral gray. Casa Aztlán’s fate was a dark symbol of the cultural and physical displacement that long-time residents face. On On the main commercial stretch near where I lived, the Mexican-American businesses, like bakeries, tamale houses, bodegas and carnicerias were quickly being replaced. Within a ten minute walk, I could buy an organic raw smoothie, artisinal baked goods, stop in for a drink at a Michelin starred gastropub, and practice hot yoga. These are just a few fo the examples. On the painted-over Casa Aztlan mural, someone had taken spraypaint and written "Gentrification is colonization"

Midtown, Detroit

--Emily Smith

Midtown, Detroit - the classic example of...gentrification! After spending the last few years there, I have seen gentrification in action.

Rising rents, hip coffee shops, a Whole Foods (because who doesn't do all of their grocery shopping there?), small plates restaurants, craft beer shops, bike lanes, and the list goes on!

Although this process has pushed out a large portion of its original population with rising rents, it has also improved quality of life for some residents. During the time that I lived in Midtown, I felt a shift in the character of the neighborhood. There was always something new to do, somewhere new to eat/drink, and some kind of growing sense of safety. Suburbanites would flock to Midtown every weekend, spend money, fill the streets, and then return to their homes outside of the city. The question now - how to retain and support both the original resident population and this new transient, suburban population?




59 Seward Ave., Detroit, MI

Known alternatively as New Center Apartments, Wellington Place, Wellington Plaza and Wellington Commons, 59 Seward Ave. was originally "Detroit's Leading Uptown Hotel." Since its glory days, the building has boasted mainly latent economic opportunities and jettisoned rehabilitation efforts. Vacant since 2009, when its then-owner went out of business, evicting 400 low-income residents, the building has reappeared in the news as plans to convert it into subsidized housing have become public. What is of not here is two-fold: the naked ambition of many new homeowners in the wealthier Virginia Park neighborhood to gentrify the area is coupled with that of long-time residents with little equity in their homes. This appears to be an inversion of the stalwart equation of gentrification: extant residents fighting greedy developers to keep the character of their neighborhood. While the city council recently approved a bill mandating minimum affordable housing requirements in all new residential builds, the residents here are hoping that a boutique hotel will fill the void. Their resistance to this complex of affordable housing reflects a hope that the booming real-estate market in the adjacent Midtown neighborhood will bump up home values in their own - yet it appears obvious that the only people that will benefit from this will be the new homeowners with substantial equity and those yet to move onto the block.


Luanda, Angola

~Tim Arvan

Known by the notorious nickname of "the most expensive city in the world," Luanda, Angola does not seem like an obvious location for rapid economic development and associated gentrification. However, due to Angola's prodigious endowment of oil resources, the nation's local economies have experienced GDP increases in excess of 10% per year over the past decade. As the Angolan capital city, Luanda has been the locus of exponential population growth (to 6.5 million today) as well as an insatiable rise in housing demand in recent years. This process has been accelerated by foreign investment tied to the ongoing oil industry boom; population projections estimate that the city will need to accommodate an additional 3 million residents by 2030, the vast majority of whom will be of foreign origin.

Accompanying Luanda's unprecedented growth is equally extraordinary inequality. While Angola's per capita GDP measured merely $2,657.88 USD as recently as 2016--a figure less than one third the global average--rents in Luanda's city center range from $7,000 to $16,000 per month. As a result of astronomical prices of goods and housing, the oil boom has displaced three out of every four Luandan residents to informal, impoverished housing on the outskirts of the city. Here, former city-dwellers live without access to essential public services, as poor public health outcomes, sub-standard sanitation, and inconsistent access to food and water are the norm.


Global cost of living rankings provided by the consulting firm MERCER are as follows:

U Street Corridor (Shaw, Washington, DC) - Dahlia

The backdrop of 1968 riots triggered by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is now home to one of the City's hippest neighborhoods. Bars, restaurants and high-end retail shops, including national brands such as West Elm and Madewell, now populate 14th Street, a major north-south thoroughfare that just 15-years ago had empty, burned-out lots. A literal indicator of the neighborhood's changing tastes and demographics, a Trader Joe's opened in 2014; developers broke ground on a nearby Whole Foods Market this winter.

Rising housing prices and an influx of young professionals was expected when the District's underground metrorail reached U Street in the early 1990s, but planners never anticipated the demand for real estate by developers and residents alike. Recent estimates put average rents on a two-bedroom apartment at around $3,250.

The gentrification of U Street is complicated by the neighborhood's rich history as a center of African American culture and community. U Street used to be known as "Black Broadway." Howard University, "the Mecca" of African American intellectualism is just up the street. Developers have tried to capitalize on the neighborhood's history while possibly displacing it. Young white professionals live in buildings named "The Ellington" and "The Louis," while eating at "Busboys and Poets" (named after Langston Hughes) and "Marvin." Are these institutions exploiting or celebrating the neighborhood!? Depends on who you ask.






Photo Credit: Jared Soares, The Washington Post - https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/the-healthy-dc-economy-is-leaving-longtime-residents-behind-new-study-finds/2017/10/12/0fb036ec-aed0-11e7-9e58-e6288544af98_story.html?utm_term=.965244cf0893