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Gentrification – When Good Intentions Have Bad Consequences

On January 05, 2015, Stockbridge Capital Group, which is a private-equity real estate investment company, announced plans to build a multi-purpose sports stadium in the city of Inglewood, CA. The stadium is part of an overall development initiative titled LA Stadium and Entertainment District (LASED) at Hollywood Park. In addition to the stadium, LASED will also introduce a variety of amenities to Inglewood, including new retail stores, renovated office spaces, residential units, a luxury hotel, public parks/playgrounds, and modernized mass-transit networks. Without question, all of this redevelopment represents a tremendous opportunity for the city to achieve economic growth and transform into an exceptional destination. However, there is a negative side to the story whenever such considerable investment is instantaneously introduced to a city. This drawback is! known as gentrification.

Not Everybody Benefits

Gentrification is a premeditated business practice by which affordable or low-cost urban centers are surgically remodeled in order to facilitate an influx of more affluent residents. It involves identifying low-cost real-estate, then renovating it within a short period of time in order to make an area more attractive to new, richer residents. Granted gentrification does bring economic benefit to the locations where it happens, it has the simultaneous effect of stranding native residents, and displacing them traumatically. Inglewood, for example, is already reporting an exodus of longtime city residents who anticipate not being able to afford the cost of living in their own city once LASED is completed.

So, What Can be Done?

Gentrification is a complicated issue to resolve because it ultimately boils down to power and influence. To begin with, it can’t be criminalized because there’s nothing illegal or reprehensible about renovating a neighborhood. Secondly, it can’t be suppressed because the entities responsible for gentrification possess enough wealth and power to make business decisions at will. The only real solution to the problems caused by gentrification is social inclusion. Society needs to figure out a way to design cities that allow for the rich, the middle-class, and the poor, to share the same space without isolating one another. Naturally, this is easier said than done. Until socio-economic division in our communities is done away with however, society will continue living in a vicious cycle of opportunism.

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