New Orleans and the waves of gentrification  

Home / Urban Regeneration / New Orleans and the waves of gentrification  

New Orleans and the waves of gentrification  

Gentrification is an urban development phenomenon which gains traction due in part to perceived underutilized or undervalued segment(s) of a community being rediscovered as a place for accelerated investment.  This process accelerates in areas with locational advantages where real estate values are low or have declined significantly or spurred on by public or private action or a phenomenon (man-made or natural) which resets the context for a community.

This process, according to urban development experts occurs overtime through a series of human settlement waves and investment decisions. The first wave in this process is known as “risk oblivious” trailblazers (not affluent individuals) moving into the gentrifying area and has no fear of a transitioning community. They simply see the value based on lifestyle choice and want to be there.

The first wave is followed by a second wave described as “risk aware” individuals with a greater ability to invest and clearly understand the risk inherent in the area. They choose to live and invest in the area given it supports both life style choice and long-term investment return. The last wave, and arguably the most stringent, are the individuals that have “no risk tolerance” and expect upon their arrival to the area that all city services and conditions (streets, crime, schools etc.) to be close to perfection as they are poised to  invest significant capital in the newly redeveloped area.

As the waves continue, clashes, both social and economic ensue with the rise in real estate prices and the changing nature of commercial and retail establishments that are viewed as no longer socially and economically conducive to long-term area residents.

In many ways, this is what’s taking place in New Orleans where portions of the city are somewhere between the first and second wave with both first wave residents and long term residents struggling to remain, maintain existing property and or return to their respective communities in this wave of change given their limited economic ability.

The key question looming is whether this continued process is unavoidable for New Orleans given its appeal to urban trailblazers and walkable city choice goers and investors. Or, can the community mobilize itself through progressive public policy which encourages economic and social diversity throughout the gentrifying areas?

Not sure if it’s too late in the process for New Orleans, but one thing is sure, communities that recognize the broad economic potential for gentrification “early” can set its community pace for inclusive long-term economic success. Not to be naïve, this is easier said than done. It requires community will and foresight to manage the ultimate outcome of gentrification.

Dr. Eric Anthony Johnson

Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt