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New vs. Old Building In South Phoenix?


             New Motor Vehicle Division

     Where a large empty piece of land once stood near the older homes of South Phoenix and its many small businesses identified by unprofessional signs (many in Spanish), now stands a brand new Motor Vehicle Division building, a new YMCA, a new retirement home, and a brand new housing subdivision with high walls.  The MVD building contrasts the older buildings of South Phoenix with a light colored exterior and a trendy turquoise roof with professional landscaping. One could ask why an MVD building has been recently erected so far south in Phoenix.  There were people living there before, but it was not built until recently.                                                                          

The new housing subdivision looks like a cookie cutter piece of North Phoenix or Scottsdale transported to South Phoenix.  The subdivision is also light colored and has trendy Spanish tile roofs with high walls all around it.  The new YMCA blends in a little bit more because of the many different colors that were used to paint its building.   A sort of tidiness exists in the way that it was painted.  It looks extremely professional, whereas most of the buildings and hand-painted signs in South Phoenix seem rather primitive by comparison.  Finally, the new retirement home blends in with the subdivision and the MVD because of its similar light color and professional landscaping.  All of the buildings contradict the rest of older South Phoenix, especially the older homes and structures that are just a few hundred yards north of the YMCA. 


The MVD could have been built to serve the growing population of South Phoenix.  But, most likely the MVD was built to attract more middle class suburbanites to change the area’s reputation, look, and demographics, just as the City of Phoenix is trying to do with the Rio Salado project to make an example as if to say to corporations and businesses, “See, it is safe to invest here.”  As Steve Brittle explained, the City of Phoenix is trying to move people from their homes to use the land to attract more white middle class people to try to change the area.  The current changes taking place is not the first time a housing and building explosion has happened where white people have looked to change the demographics and look of South Phoenix.  As laid out in the Arizona Republic in 1999 in the article, “After 100 Years, a Housing Boom”, Dwight Heard enticed white people about a century ago with free cows and chickens with their purchase of land, very similar to the cheap homes that are being offered with amenities such as safety walls, a beautiful mountain view, and only 10 minutes near everything.

                                                                       The Walls

 The walls of the subdivision also serve the purpose to convey a semblance safety and a separation from the current residents of South Phoenix (who are mainly minorities).  The newer homes and buildings have a similar look to them with light pastel colors, many of them having Spanish tile roofs, and zeroscape landscaping.  They look more like artworks than dwelling places.  New residents can get a feeling of safety, even if it may be a false sense, and not have to look at the older poorer homes that are usually smaller, painted different colors, and have different architectural styles.  Not many of the older homes look alike.  So, the new residents can just gaze at the South Mountain preserve, as if the rest of South Phoenix wasn’t there.  The superintendent of the Roosevelt Elementary School District proposed putting a small elementary school in each new subdivision that would most likely segregate the new middle class white students from the older residents according the Arizona Republic article, “Parents Fear Segregation Return”.  As South Phoenix becomes more popular to mainly white middle class citizens, the demand for property will cause the price of housing to rise significantly.  A new majority in South Phoenix may emerge, the white middle class.  But, where will its long-time residents go?  Will South Phoenix, as it is today, be erased and forgotten? 

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