Back in mid 1980’s the front door of a new condo conversion at One Tompkins Square Park was spray painted with words “Die Yuppie Scum” and it became the battle cry for protests against gentrification of the East Village. With the eastward push of new residential development in the 1980s from the West and Central Village, residents and local businesses worried about being priced out and losing the intangibles that made the neighborhood unique – and that they would disappear along with it.

I remember appraising apartments to the east of Tompkins Square Park, seeing squatters inhabit derelict buildings, observing a burned out school bus on blocks in front of a newly converted walk-up and the self-described “Anarchists” in the park. All that is gone.

Recent discussions about gentrification have been more visible of late – and so have the discussions of the benefits of gentrification.

Merriam-Webster defines gentrification as:

the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents

Philadelphia is one of the first cities to tackle the issue in an attempt to keep the long time residents there and in doing so, helping to minimize the loss of the character of the neighborhood. It is fascinating and encouraging to see city governments be proactive on the issue since it costs money in the short term.

The initiatives, planned or underway in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Pittsburgh and other cities, are centered on reducing or freezing property taxes for such homeowners in an effort to promote neighborhood stability, preserve character and provide a dividend of sorts to those who have stayed through years of high crime, population loss and declining property values, officials say.

One Comment

  1. James Schiller March 14, 2014 at 4:13 am

    Gentrification is a very sensitive issue. Though, here in Charleston, it never became much of a problem with the people. I think, this may be due to the fact that we are an old city, and over the years our modern establishments had blended perfectly well with the old structures that have stood there for years before them. That, and the fact that most old buildings and homes, especially in the downtown area, are well-kept and still used. There was no rampant displacement that occurred. As a realtor, I have seen the different conditions homes and buildings are in, and in Charleston most of them are well-kept and the old ones preserved. As you might see in, homes for sale kiawah island sc, a lot of them are actually old or made in the classic styles of the old houses.

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