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A.

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Gentrification in Atlanta
« on: March 11, 2006, 07:39:02 AM »
Very interesting article: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/11/national/11atlanta.html?hp&ex=1142139600&en=9aa792497d0c6072&ei=5094&partner=homepage

Gentrification Changing Face of New Atlanta

By SHAILA DEWAN
Published: March 11, 2006

ATLANTA, March 8 In-town living. Live-work-play. Mixed income. The buzzwords of soft-core urbanism are everywhere these days in this eternally optimistic city, used in real estate advertisements and mayoral boasts to lure money from the suburbs and to keep young people from leaving.

Loft apartments roll onto the market every week, the public housing authority is a nationally recognized pioneer in redevelopment and the newest shopping plaza has one Target and three Starbucks outlets.

But although gentrification has expanded the city's tax base and weeded out blight, it has had an unintended effect on Atlanta, long a lure to African-Americans and a symbol of black success. For the first time since the 1920's, the black share of the city's population is declining and the white percentage is on the rise.

The change has introduced an element of uncertainty into local politics, which has been dominated by blacks since 1973, when Atlanta became the first major Southern city to elect a black mayor.

Some, like Mayor Shirley Franklin, who is serving her second and final term, play down the significance of the change, saying that the city now 54 percent black will remain progressive and that voters here do not strictly adhere to racial lines. Others warn of the dilution, if not the demise, of black power.

"It's certainly affecting local politics," said Billy Linville, a political consultant who has worked for Ms. Franklin. "More white politicians are focusing on possibly becoming mayor and positioning themselves accordingly, whereas in the past they would not have. The next mayor of Atlanta, I believe, will be African-American, but after that it may get very interesting."

The changes do not mean that Atlanta has lost its magnetism for blacks. Twenty-year projections show the percentage of African-Americans continuing to inch upward in the 10-county metropolitan area. Blacks already hold the majority on the Clayton County commission, and they are gaining footholds in counties like Cobb and Gwinnett.

But the city itself, a small splotch of fewer than half a million residents in a galaxy of sprawl, is now attracting the affluent, who are mostly white, in part because they want to avoid gear-grinding commutes that are among the nation's longest.

In that sense, demographers say, the shift is driven by class rather than race. In 1990, the per capita income in the city of Atlanta was below that of the metropolitan area as a whole, but in 2004 it was 28 percent higher, the largest such shift in the country, according to a University of Virginia urban planning study.

So rapid is the explosion of wealth that Ms. Franklin recently tried to impose a moratorium on McMansions, new houses bloated far beyond the size of their older neighbors.

According to census figures, non-Hispanic blacks went from a high of 66.8 percent of Atlanta's population in 1990 to 61 percent in 2000 and to 54 percent in 2004. In the same time period, non-Hispanic whites went from 30.3 percent to 35 percent. The 2004 figures are estimates.

Even the Old Fourth Ward, the once elegant black neighborhood where Martin Luther King Jr. was born, is now less than 75 percent black, down from 94 percent in 1990, as houses have skyrocketed in value and low-rent apartments have been replaced by new developments.

"There could be a time in the not-too-distant future when the black population is below half of the city population, if this trend continues," said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, a Washington research group.

Atlanta's upward shift in its white population is atypical, Mr. Frey said. Although many other cities have embarked on revitalization programs, only Washington is seeing a similar, if less stark, racial trend as Atlanta. More often, blacks and whites both are losing ground to a surging Latino population. Even in Atlanta, the Latino population rose to 26,100 in 2004 from 18,700 in 2000.

Most mayors would see a physical revitalization like Atlanta's as an accomplishment. The city has led the country, rivaled only by Chicago, in the race to replace public housing projects with mixed-income developments.

A.

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Re: Gentrification in Atlanta
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2006, 07:39:42 AM »
 Housing has also mushroomed in places where it had not previously existed. The most ambitious project, Atlantic Station, a shopping and residential district on the site of a former steel mill near downtown, will have more than 2,000 units. Loft prices start at $160,000.

But critics say Mayor Franklin and her predecessor, Bill Campbell, betrayed their voter base by not doing enough to keep Atlanta affordable for poor blacks as property taxes increase and landlords sell out to developers.

"It's clear as the nose on your face who it's going to impact the most," said Joe Beasley, the human resources director at an Atlanta church and a member of the city's Gentrification Task Force, now defunct, which studied ways to ease the effects of rising property taxes and housing prices. "Bill Campbell was cutting his own throat, and Shirley Franklin is continuing to cut her own throat."

Ms. Franklin counters that many new developments, including Atlantic Station, have set aside areas for low-income or affordable housing. She says one of her major accomplishments, financing a badly needed overhaul of the sewage and water system without a large increase in rates, has kept city living affordable. But the bottom line, in the mayor's view, is that the city must try to mold development where it can.

"We're constantly seeking a balance in what we support," Ms. Franklin said last week in a telephone interview.

David Bositis, a senior political analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington group that studies black issues, said he viewed the change as largely positive. "I don't know that it ever was a good thing when you had cities that were becoming viewed as black cities," Mr. Bositis said.

He added, "People said, 'This is our city now,' but half the time you looked at what was there and you said, 'Who cares?' "

Race is not the only factor in the political equation.

"We're talking about an era in which you see a conservative trend among certain sectors of the black community," said William Boone, a political science professor at Clark Atlanta University, a predominantly African-American institution. "That's going to have some impact on who's offered for mayor."

Power in Atlanta has always involved coalitions of blacks and other groups, said Ms. Franklin, who has received high marks for restoring credibility to city government and who was re-elected in 2005 with 91 percent of the vote.

"This whole notion that the sky is falling, I don't see it," Ms. Franklin said. "To me the question is, Will Atlanta be a progressive city, given that it's the home of the civil rights movement, the home of the historically black colleges? Will that continue with the demographic shifts? And my answer is yes."

Already, the change has had unpredictable effects. Kwanza Hall is a young black politician from the rapidly gentrifying Old Fourth Ward, a neighborhood that is part of a mostly white City Council district that includes affluent areas like Inman Park. But in the last election, Mr. Hall, who ran his campaign from a year-old coffee shop next to a soon-to-open men's spa, defeated two whites for an open seat.

To Joe Stewardson, who owns the coffee shop building and was the first white president of the ward's community development corporation, the question was not Mr. Hall's race but his ability to forge relationships outside a neighborhood whose boundary was, not too long ago, what Mr. Stewardson called "an iron curtain."

"You would not have seen that," Mr. Stewardson said, "if this neighborhood had not changed so much."

A.

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Re: Gentrification in Atlanta
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2006, 07:41:30 AM »
What do you guys think?  While I think it's a good thing when downtown revitalization projects and such are successful, I think it's very interesting that the two cities that are thought of most as "black power" cities--Atlanta and DC--are losing their base of black voters.  It will be interesting to see where these cities are in 20 years.

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Re: Gentrification in Atlanta
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2006, 09:31:47 AM »
Same thing happened to Brooklyn and the same thing will happen to Newark.  It's good when a housing surge gives poor blacks a premium on their for their property.  Nothing wrong it gentrification.
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Re: Gentrification in Atlanta
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2006, 10:22:58 AM »
gentrification is a lovely idea but it does nothing but leave the majority of a community displaced and in the same shape they were in before their neighborhood was "made over"...perfect example is DC, thousands of families have been forced out of their homes whether it be mini projects that have been condemed or apt buildings/homes that have been sold by the owner...

i know im not answering acli's question with this post but, i just have to give my opinion on the topic

i understand that the projects off of east capitol across the bridge (past rfk) in capitol heights were not fit to live in, but where did the people who occupied them go? and how bout the two neightborhoods i lived in? i first lived in SE below eastern market and before the stadium, a few blocks from penn and down the street from the local safeway. although there was still a "black pressence" in the area, you could literally see the area's background changing each day. again where are these ppl going??

the second place i lived was south of dupont and west of the convention center, perfect location in DC (logan circle).  my street in particular had one house left that hadn't been renovated. it was an eyesore too and the only reason the house hadnt been done over and made "presentable" is b/c the elderly woman who owned it refused to sell and she just doesnt have the money to renovate. take a five minute walk from my old place and you'll come across the hotel that DC's most famous mayor was caught smoking crack in. my friend's family recently moved back to their brownstone in the same area b/c it was a safe place to live again. the rent for my apt 4 yrs ago was 1400, its now 2200. like before, my question is where are the ppl who lived in these areas before going?

i was able to find out where these ppl are going in DC while working for habitat & sasha bruce. these ppl, good and bad are being pushed out into the suburbs of PG, moco, and northern, VA or other areas of DC where they can still afford to live. most are living with relatives in overcrowded homes and cant find a decent place to live with their incomes. some families have just picked up and left the beltway to try something new.

regardless of the positive effects that gentrification has on dilapitated neighborhoods, the cons outweigh them by a ton. the reason is that gentrification does not solve the problems that existed before the yuppies & buppies move in and fresh paint is thrown on the houses. all it does is pushes the problems at hand to other areas and they become even worse. i mean think, a young teen is already upset that they have to live in a crime infested area and then has to move to something worse? now that young person is really gonna pop off when pused to the limit and we all know that this person's actions will most likely be negative.

every family that i worked with on the habitat construction site had been effected in one way or another by gentrification in DC and although they were choosing to live in a neighborhood that is still dangerous, they are cool with it for two reasons. first they will soon be a community of 52 or 54 families and believe that by the time the last house is finished they'll be able to have a positive impact upon the older parts of the neighborhood. but most of all these families now have the power of home ownership and can never be displaced or forced out of their homes again. this is what gentrification should be.

my friend's father says that in 10-15 years DC's vote will no longer be majority black b/c blacks will no longer be able to afford to live in the district, sad but such a reality.

and forget projects like hope 6 b/c they're already not fullfilling their requirements of having "mixed income" families live in the newly built homes

A.

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Re: Gentrification in Atlanta
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2006, 10:49:48 AM »
but most of all these families now have the power of home ownership and can never be displaced or forced out of their homes again. this is what gentrification should be.

That is, unless the city or state, through eminent domain, forces them out for a "public good" (with, of course, "just compensation").

While I do recognize all of the problems you just named, I don't really see a way around widespread displacement if one is going to make an area of the city more attractive.  Atlanta has done a fairly good job of implementing mixed-income communities in the areas that are being redeveloped, and I think this is probably all that can be done.  If you make a place more attractive, people are going to want to live there, and the basic forces of supply and demand will drive prices up.

My problem, however, is that affluent whites are taking over these areas at a higher rate than affluent blacks.  Maybe it's just a supply problem, but I think something should be done to entice the many affluent blacks in Atlanta out of the suburbs and into these new areas of the city.

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Re: Gentrification in Atlanta
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2006, 11:00:12 AM »
so what happens to the decent ppl who just havent had the same breaks as some of us?? and im not speaking of ppl who have been forced out for "public good" in the sense you're talking about acli, but public good as in "money and price: how to get more and drive it up" b/c thats the bottom line

if you havent worked with ppl hands on who have been affected by such displacement and are trying to do by their families or lived in an area while its currently going through the process i can see why you feel the way you do. i know i did. again this is assuming you havent. the reality is that whats going on in chicago, dc, and now atlanta (although i dont know much about atl's case) is going to reap negative consequences in the long run

and of course affluent whites are moving in faster than affluent blacks, there are more of them. and to be honest many of the affluent blacks living in the burbs are hesitant for obvious reasons to return to the inner cities they ran away from 20 and 30 years ago

but most of all these families now have the power of home ownership and can never be displaced or forced out of their homes again. this is what gentrification should be.

That is, unless the city or state, through eminent domain, forces them out for a "public good" (with, of course, "just compensation").

While I do recognize all of the problems you just named, I don't really see a way around widespread displacement if one is going to make an area of the city more attractive.  Atlanta has done a fairly good job of implementing mixed-income communities in the areas that are being redeveloped, and I think this is probably all that can be done.  If you make a place more attractive, people are going to want to live there, and the basic forces of supply and demand will drive prices up.

My problem, however, is that affluent whites are taking over these areas at a higher rate than affluent blacks.  Maybe it's just a supply problem, but I think something should be done to entice the many affluent blacks in Atlanta out of the suburbs and into these new areas of the city.

A.

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Re: Gentrification in Atlanta
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2006, 11:06:13 AM »
What are some alternatives?  Mixed income housing is the only successful one I've seen so far.  How do you make a place more attractive without make it more expensive and thus displacing poor people?  I suppose rent controls might be an option, but those have universally failed.

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Re: Gentrification in Atlanta
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2006, 11:21:46 AM »
my thinking is something that has yet been tried to my knowledge like enabling the habitants of these neighborhoods to do better through education and funding. but this approach hasnt been taken on a large scale b/c it costs too much and takes too long.

the ppl who are in charge and running gentrification programs seem to only be concerned with their monetary investments which makes the above obsolete. until those in power realize that the same troubles effecting the areas they are trying to "better" by moving in the "joneses" will only result in another area falling prey to the same social ills gentrification will not make a difference in our country socially, cuturally, or economically.

and i refuse to accept the fact that the majority of those who are "down & out" have to remain that way. if this was the case then fine, but too many are suffering b/c they haven't the resources or means to improve their situation. if these ppl are given the necessary tools to "make it happen" and choose not to use them then okay, but again that isnt the case

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Re: Gentrification in Atlanta
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2006, 12:19:42 PM »
Gentrification brings an influx of homo's into the community. Just wanted to through that out there.