The changes occurring in South Phoenix will most likely
have significant economic and cultural consequences. These changes are
reflected in certain attitudes that confirm that in South Phoenix there
is a current "back to the city movement" as urban geographer Neil Smith
argues in his book The New Urban Frontier. I want to use Chapter
1, "Is Gentrification a Dirty Word?" to point out the similarities that
are occurring in New York City and Phoenix, and the possibility of more
changes to occur in South Phoenix.
The cultural consequences in South Phoenix could be described as a perspective clash: The insiders views vs. the outsiders views. I tend to have the insiders view because I am a resident of South Phoenix and have noticed obvious changes slowly taking place. The movement Smith described in the above mentioned chapter is one that involves the construction of upper and middle class white residences in the city. Which in most cases results in the displacement of low income minority and usually long time residents of the area. In this case South Phoenix is an area that until very recently was perceived as a non-profitable location to develop. The lack of resources has directly affected housing in this area, thus giving it a negative aspect. There was a time when even thinking about buying a home in South Phoenix was regarded as irrational and crazy. Whereas now attitudes have changed immensely, I think mainly because of the reputation that certain builders carry with their names, a reputation centered around "control" of ones environment. Such controls as private gated communities, single family homes, and most significantly the restricted affordability of homes, appeal to certain groups who can afford these amenities.
Assuming that all the housing developments successfully
carry out, this will not change the overall physical face of the neighborhood.
The development in South Phoenix, is still limited to certain pockets,
mostly around the base of the South Mountains. According to the Baseline
Master Plan, an area plan focusing on perspective changes along the Baseline
Road Corridor, it is an effort to develop areas that were originally skipped
between the Rio Salado and the South Mountains. This plan was prepared
by the City of Phoenix Planning Department and it offers potential investors
and homeowners a "vision for the future." The plan to revitalize the Baseline
area is going to be a challenge not for the developers, but for the community.
The existing local business most definitely target certain
groups, such as the Mexican, Mexican-American, and African-American communities
and not the potential homebuyers. Is there a possibility that soon we will
see more exclusive shops, restaurants, stores, and clubs popping up? I
think so, as there will be a demand for them soon. As of today I have yet
to see a prestigious fitness club or a specialty gourmet shop because the
absence of area residents with discretionary income would probably put
them out of business.
The businesses in South Phoenix, although limited in their nature are practical to the residents currently living there. Many are family-owned businesses that cater to certain cultures, such as the Black and Latino communities. They bring the tastes, smells, and sights of a country that they or a distant relative once lived in. The culture in this area is one of a kind. It will be interesting to see how these changes affect not only the residents of South Phoenix but the overall neighborhood. Cultural displacement in ones own neighborhood is a possibility with the rapid changes occurring in South Phoenix. As an member of the Mexican culture the changes in South Phoenix, may not have immediate consequences, but in the long run will surely disturb the current one-of-a- kind diversity in South Phoenix.
Businesses that cater to specific ethnic groups in
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