Let’s begin with a general definition of what gentrification is.  In The New Urban Frontier, the author describes gentrification as the process by which poor working-class neighborhoods in the inner city are refurbished via an influx of private capital and middle-class homebuyers and renters (Smith, p32). 

 When and Where?                       

What does this mean? Putting it simply, it is the upgrading of housing and retail businesses in neighborhoods with an influx generally of private investment (Smith, p30).  Gentrification is an occurrence that recently has moved into our neighborhoods as recent as the 1970s when organized central and inner-city rebuilding and rehabilitation had begun. How do we know that it is going on? All it takes is a drive throughout the city and the evidence is everywhere. Throughout Phoenix, signs of gentrification are increasingly noticeable. 

 Gentrification occurs almost exclusively in inner city areas of large cities. Consider for example the various new developments of the downtown Phoenix area. New “luxury” apartments are being constructed and are taking the place of ugly trash-filled vacated lots home to many homeless, and it’s only the beginning.  This surely should not have come as a surprise to the community residents.  Developers and community planners were greatly anticipating such developments long before blueprints for the newly built Bank-One Ballpark were first drafted.  Only a few years later and many new establishments are starting construction in the downtown area forcing the various residents of the area elsewhere.  When talks of bringing the Cardinal’s Stadium to the Westside were first initiated, developers had already begun anticipating the great potential for restructure and renovation. This is the case in the area of Central Ave and Roosevelt where three brand new luxury apartment homes have been built in the middle of a community filled with low-income family homes as well as many homeless people.  The same goes for the newly built condominiums build across the street from the Arizona Center on Fillmore Street.  It is obvious that these homes were not built for the former poorer-residents but instead for the greatly anticipated die-hard sports fanatics following their teams to Phoenix. 

 The Gentrified Community:                    

Most gentrified neighborhoods are old, which is the case of the community living in South Phoenix, the predominant area of our study. Here buildings after buildings have been refurbished or are in the middle of renovation processes.  Other characteristics of gentrified neighborhoods include specialty shops, boutiques, upscale restaurants, sports bars and coffee houses, peppered throughout the neighborhood. Although these establishments are not yet located in the vicinity of this community, it is depressing to consider the loss of many existing establishments, as they would be shut down for space.  Take a look at our “Tour Down Central” page and you will see many of the neighborhood residential stores and markets.  This is culture. If gentrification should continue to spread throughout this community, these family establishments would be replaced with corporate businesses such as Starbucks or Trader Joe’s and the cultural community would be vanished.


There would be and end to the personal relationships that many residents have established with local business owners. This is a community where many wake up to a freshly brewed pot of coffee.  The residents here enjoy their leisure time at home, eating breakfast, watching television or reading the paper before leaving to work.  For the most part, they aren’t living the fast life, always on the go.  Undoubtedly, they don’t need to pay the five dollars each day for an overly strong, lousy tall or grande cup of coffee. 

 Benefits Vs. Problems:                                       

Gentrification is a very controversial trend when considering whom is benefited.  An essential benefit as a result of gentrification could be to the working community at large.  An increase in construction jobs in the city would soon follow.  The renovation of apartments, lofts, condominiums, and houses along with an increase in new stores and buildings would enable many with opportunities for employment.  As a result, local merchants and storeowners in the area will also benefit with an increased number of customers.  Reduction of crime in the area is another benefit of gentrification.  Corner liquor stores and pornography shops are said be symbolic of crime-ridden areas. Gentrification would put an end to such places by shutting them down and rendering them out of business.  As the area and the neighborhoods get better and new businesses grow, community property taxes will begin to rise.  The simplest benefit of all is the collaboration of better looking neighborhoods.   

        There are problems with gentrification.  The displacement of the poor and lower middle class people by the middle class is one resulting trend.  New luxury apartments, new restaurants and shops will continue to draw outsiders- the middle class- as these establishments would be too costly for the average community resident. Old jobs will be lost as manufacturers and factories shutdown to make room for new developments.  As property value increase, outside investors will begin to bid for lots and renovated buildings to erect new apartments and homes at costs that local residents cannot afford.  An increase in property taxes will also cause longtime merchants out of business as rentals for storefronts increase.  Longtime residents will soon become foreigners in their own communities.