KUOW asks: Is gentrification good or bad?

KUOW’s Weekday took on the concept of gentrification this morning. Specifically, the program asked the question of whether it is good or bad.

Richard Morrill, professor emeritus of geography at UW, defined gentrification as “Replacement of less educated and less affluent households with more educated, affluent and professional households in urban core areas perceived as desirable and convenient resulting in reinvestment and selective displacement.”

Former Seattle mayor Norm Rice, Sightline’s Eric de Place and The Stanger’s Charles Mudede discussed the economic and racial aspects of gentrification in Seattle, for good and bad. You can listen to the hour-long program in its entirety on the KUOW website.

One area they focused on is the neighborhood near 23rd and Jackson.

“When it first was built — Promenade 23 is what they called it — it didn’t work,” said Rice. “It was a big shopping center that was designed in not necessarily the best way. It didn’t start taking off until the housing started being built around it. And then there were choices around the houses you could have, then you started seeing the influx of people who began to use the shopping center … you began to see the demographics change.” The center was supposed to be a magnet for people to shop, but it also became a magnet for development, he said.

“If you say its economics, I think that’s almost like getting away with something, making it too easy, wrap it up too quickly,” said Mudede. “I always will say that economic is the base,” but it’s not entirely a market decision. After all, civic decisions to make a place better make it more attractive and, therefore, attract people.

Census data shows the demographics of the neighborhood continue to change dramatically. Black population in the past decade has declined, and many areas of the neighborhood now have a white majority.

0 thoughts on “KUOW asks: Is gentrification good or bad?

  1. totally can’t wait for the usual comments that we’ve all seen a billion times on this blog – come on people don’t disappoint me!!

  2. I don’t have time to comment. Chasing black people out of the neighborhood by forcing them to sell their houses is a full-time job.

  3. Ever since the closure (and demolition) of Chocolate City and the gentrification of the CD’s blurred edge with Miller Park/Capitol Hill, I can now walk safely to my bus. No one has pulled a knife on my boyfriend in front of Safeway for a good long while. I don’t see people chasing each other through the Planned Parenthood parking lot with a gun in hand as I walk home from the Trader Joe’s. No one has ripped my window off my house and stolen all my jewelry since 2006. I haven’t heard a gun shot in years. I can stroll along the sidewalks without passing through a cloud of crack smoke. I wish I was kidding about this, but the above is all true.

    I see dogs and families and strollers. I visit local businesses and leave the car at home. I see home improvement, lovely gardens, and I know my neighbors. I love my home. Call it gentrification but all I see is Positive Change, and it is good.

  4. Can you just go ahead and say “I’m glad the black people are gone because now my life is much easier”. Cause you keep dancing around it in order to be politically correct.

  5. Its misleading to conclude that one race is responsible for gentrification and another for decline when the causation is related to affluence. Most people want to live in a safe and clean neighborhood PERIOD. I’ve lived in the CD for over 20 years, gentrification has been good for all of us.

  6. Tasha I wouldn’t say ‘easier’ but I would say much more ‘pleasant’ and ‘safe’, but since you are taking it there, maybe it’s not because ‘all the black people are gone’ but perhaps there are ‘more gays and families’ interested in a nice and safe neighborhood? Yah that’s sound better.

  7. I’m unsure how a desire for public safety makes you a bigot as Tasha123 seems to imply.

    I must live very close to you. I have black neighbors on 3 sides of me, I moved to the CD in 1999 partly because it is a diverse neighborhood. I am genuinely saddened every time one of the old black ladies on my street passes and her family sells her house. I wish just once one of them would move into their mom’s house!

    I too am enjoying the peace & safety now that Chocolate City is gone. It isn’t because it’s customers were black but because many were criminals and thugs and their presence in our neighborhood made us all unsafe. I’m guessing many black residents who live near me are too.

  8. Pretty sure the guy who tore my house apart looking for jewelry and electronics was a white guy, because he was foolish enough to keep coming back and was eventually caught attempting to break in at my neighbor’s house on a Saturday afternoon. I don’t give a damn what color a person is when he runs right in front of me with a gun — it’s the gun that matters. It’s the crime that matters.

    There’s a level of care, pride, and neighborhood camaraderie prevalent now that was not here even six years ago. If enjoying that urban renewal makes me a bad person, fine, I’m a bad person. I am going to go plant some flowers, sweep the sidewalk, have lunch at El Gallito and say hi to my neighbors. How sinister.

  9. We moved close to 23rd and Jackson a few years ago and love it. The diversity, the neighbors, the parks – most everything about it is wonderful.

    If I had one gripe, it would be the reverse racism. We’re a bi-racial couple – wife is white, I am Japanese. We have neighbors of all colors and sexual orientations and they are generally all very nice. I will say, though, that there are still some old black ladies/families that are disgusted buy our sight. They threaten our dog, make rude comments walking by and just don’t seem to like us. This is sad considering, we’re friends with many black people throughout our street and they’re all very, very nice. I can see that they don’t like people like “us” moving into their hood, a place they’ve been for a very long time. It must be sad to see their friends displaced for new families, assuming we all have nothing in common. But don’t they like seeing homes being redone, nice gardens across the front lawns, cute kids and friendly people? Why the animosity? Like I said, 95% of the people we meet are fantastic and friendly – it’s the 5% that despises us and I’m not really sure why.

  10. I bought by house in the neighborhood 28 years ago. My block was 80% black/20% white. Now it’s 90% white/10% black. I miss many of my former black neighbors, they were good people. I’m white,they accepted me, I them. We all got along. Yes the area has changed, mostly for the better, but it’s still a diverse neighborhood in many ways and I love it.

  11. I’m with ALS on this one. I frequent many of the same areas and while I never experienced all the horrible things she did, I have seen the change and feel safer and much more secure. I can walk to Safeway with my kids without looking over my shoulder. I work in my yard all day on the weekends and the drug-dealers’ cars don’t stick around when they see neighbors outside paying attention. I do happen to be white, but I don’t think it matters what color you are if you’re bettering the community and being accepting of all your productive neighbors – whatever income bracket, nationality, sexual orientation, or religious background. The key word there is PRODUCTIVE.

  12. @olive oyl – My block has just a few African American families left on it. One is a middle aged woman and her young adult son – and she inherited the home when her parents passed away. She kept it – she didn’t sell it for a huge profit. It’s the home she grew up in, and she wants to stay there. I really respect that. And she doesn’t give me dirty looks for moving in down the block in a house someone bought cheap, fixed up, and sold at a profit. We’re all in this together – keeping our neighborhood safe around us.

  13. Please move to our block in Mt Baker since we have many mixed couples on our block (black-white) (hispanic-white) (asian-white) (black asian)and LGBT couples

  14. Tasha, I don’t understand: are you saying that all black people are criminals, or just black people are criminals? Either way, that’s not a very nice thing to say….

  15. @LizWas .. we are ALL in this together .. my block has many great people, we say hi and try to help each other out as best we can. I do wish more black families would stay in their family homes … but totally understand that family dynamics & economics sometimes make this impossible for anyone to keep a family home.
    A few years ago I walked out of my house to find a middle aged black man staring at my driveway, he explained to me that his uncle had lived in my house and that the name etched in the driveway was done by him as a kid. I got his address (he lived in Madrona) and sent him a bunch of family pictures I’d found when I was remodeling. I couldn’t bear to throw them out and I guess this was why.

  16. Hey Tasha don’t be racist, they were talking about BAD people moving out of the neighborhood, and nothing about color. Some people!

    I for one totally agree but this neighborhood has a long way to go, to get more bad people out and good people in. Stop looking at color, everyone, and look at actions. Maybe that will help solve some problems.

  17. I know the feeling Joe so you are not alone. My wife and I are hispanic and chinese and we get the dirty looks and stuff too. I wish the racism would stop from all sides and people just focus on personality/actions and nothing more.

  18. Situations like yours do suck :(. Stinks loosing good neighbors, I wish I had good neighbors but have a few that are not nice and wouldn’t cry seeing them move.

  19. @olive oyl – An African American gentleman was walking by last summer and saw my husband working on the yard. He told him he’d helped with the remodel of our house in 2006, a couple years before we bought it. In fact, he said he’d planted some of the shrubs my husband was weeding around. He also said the kitchen had been so small you could spread your arms and touch both walls, but they’d expanded it (and thank GOD, that would have been way too small!) He has family in the neighborhood and has apparently worked on several remodels in the CD. I love it! I wish an old tenant would knock on the door one day and ask for a tour. I often wonder about all my house’s past lives – it’s 96 years old so you know it’s had a few!

  20. When they do a article or news program on gentrification why do they choose the CD. Wallingford was diverse and so was most of the Northend at one time. Why not a focus on the de-gentrification of the great white north of the ship canal?