Gentrification is the process of renovating a low-class housing district to fit the taste of middle-class people. This happens all around the world, mostly in large cities. Most people view it as a very positive thing. Luxury houses and apartment buildings go up, young blood moves in, new stores and restaurants line the street, and the neighborhood that people were once afraid to go to becomes a popular Friday night destination.
While all of these things sound great, some negative things have to happen for gentrification to work. First, a neighborhood has to go through a period of disinvestment. This means that businesses leave, large buildings go empty, the middle class moves out, property values drop drastically, and the lower class moves in.
After the neighborhood goes through this period and develops a bad reputation, real estate developers move in. These developers work with local governments to completely change the neighborhood. They buy up a bunch of old buildings and renovate them into luxury apartment complexes with room for retail stores. Once a few people who can afford the apartment rates move in, it seems like everybody else follows. The wave of new businesses and new residents causes housing rates to skyrocket, forcing many of the long-time residents out of their neighborhood.
Nobody likes change, and after gentrification, low-income residents must move somewhere new where they can afford housing. While a new neighborhood and culture are created through this process, an old neighborhood and culture are killed.
This happens all the time. In DC, H Street Northeast and the surrounding area were completely changed. Developers put in luxury stores, luxury condos, fine restaurants, and even a streetcar. Not too far from there, at the Southwest Waterfront, housing projects were bulldozed to put up Nationals Park, dozens of office buildings and apartments, and countless restaurants that cater to the upper middle class.
Although all of these renovations may look good on the surface, the lower class must suffer in order for gentrification to work.