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.