What is Gentrification?

Gentrification is the aesthetic improvement of a neighborhood. It is not unique to any city, state or country; and usually changes the narrative of a neighborhood over time.

Evidence of a neighborhood that is undergoing gentrification may include the following:

  • franchises or anchor stores opening a new location in the neighborhood

  • banks that weren’t established in the area; now have a presence

  • improvement to current libraries or the construction of a one

  • improvement to existing parks and public transportation

  • construction of commercial buildings (e.g. mixed used buildings)

  • construction of new apartment buildings

  • a large number of single family homes being renovated

  • an obvious change in the demographics of home buyers (new homeowners)

As a real estate consultant, I fully understand the ‘value add’ that gentrification can bring to a community and neighborhood. However, I can’t deny the ‘flip’ side of the coin. It must be acknowledged that gentrification also sometimes results in lower income homeowners being forced out of the neighborhood at some point. This is usually due to higher property taxes, which has a ‘domino effect’ of increased home and property values. People may also move out of the neighborhood because of over crowding, due to an influx of people and businesses moving into the area.

When I first moved to Atlanta in 1998 I was insistent on immersing myself in the city and all it had to offer. After driving around, I found myself on the campus of Atlanta Technical College, which is located on Metropolitan Highway.

Although that was almost a lifetime ago, I can still remember the details of my experience. Simply put….I LOVED IT! The people, the culture, the grit, and the overall laid-back atmosphere somehow resonated with me. Maybe I was just excited about ‘a fresh start’, and the opportunity to reinvent myself.

I smile now, as I think of how nonchalant and trusting I was back then. I met a lot of interesting and friendly people. Thankfully never had an adverse experience during that time. I did whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted….IT WAS AMAZING….Life was Beautiful!

I can remember cruising the streets of Dill, Avon, Adair, and Tift Avenues like it was yesterday.

People in the streets, at the parks or on their porches, having conversations….enjoying life. The HBCU corridor and the West End was always vibrant and lively.

Fast forward to today…as I cruise those old familiar streets, I’m amazed at the change that gentrification has brought, and continues to bring to my beloved Atlanta neighborhood. Homes in this area, and countless others have gained value by hundreds of thousands of dollars due to gentrification. Back then, I’m pretty sure that I could’ve bought a house for around $15,000-$20,000 and the homeowner would’ve gladly accepted it.

Gentrification sometimes has a negative connotation. In my opinion, revitalization of a neighborhood is necessary for growth, and expansion. If it’s done with integrity, and plans to reserve the history of the neighborhood; along with consideration for existing long term residents; I’m all for it.

Yes’, things have changed, yet my love for this city remains ‘the same’.