Tuesday, August 26, 2008
So That's What's Happening?
Working in many city neighbhorhoods gives me a picture of St. Louis that is optimistic. I remember in my former occupation when a client of mine was buying a home in Lafayette Square. He was excited about all the development and changes going on. It was 1997. I just didn't see it.
Now Lafayette Square is a vital urban neighborhood that has stimulated progress in surrounding areas (Old City Hospital, the Gate District, etc.).
Urban sprawl still takes place, but at a much less forceful rate than it has in the past. Also, the people I've worked with looking in places like Wentzville are generally in the entry level price range where the average suburban home buyer in the 1970's was often time able to afford significantly more than what home prices were going for in the urban core.
Other than gentrification, revitalization or adaptive re-use, there is a term that is used to describe what has been happening in St. Louis and other inner city areas in the past few decades. This article in the New Republic describes the process as "demographic inversion". It was a good read; worth sharing. In a times like today when massive amount of development drastically slows down, the false conclusion that there is a problem with downtown. This article reminds me that the trends underlying the shifts in population are still active, and are much more subtle than the amazing transformation that has taken place in such a short time downtown and elsewhere in the city.
The subject of demographic inversion isn't always perceived as positive though. So much talk of displacement of the poor disenfranchised citizens seems to be present when areas are gentrified. The problem (poverty, crime) still remains but just moves elsewhere. Some agree on this point, but another observation is that while gentrification often gradually changes the demographics of a neighborhood, the areas where the poor relocate vary and are never as concentrated as what took place when the inner cities were summarily abandonded by the middle class.
More will be revealed as time goes on. Progress in St. Louis keeps moving.