…everyday needs and resources once viewed as governmental responsibilities have been handed over to “outsider” companies whose scope, grasp, and concern for the on-the-ground life in a city is limited. Entertainment is relegated to shopping malls, chain stores, sports stadiums, and for-profit festivals. Small businesses are forced to compete with Best Buy, Staples, and Target. A cashier at a downtown stadium cannot afford to live close to his job, instead settling for a working-class suburb or in the outer rings of the city.
At the same time, those who can afford to live in a city now expect a personalized, “just for you” urban lifestyle. For-profit companies chase these urbanites with upscale housing and creative marketing campaigns, transforming blighted and blue-collar neighborhoods into “livable” urban nooks.
For some, the city has re-earned its cachet. It is an exciting playground if you have the time and money. For others, the city is increasingly un-democratic; the struggles of the concrete geography are harsher than ever. Consumer-driven solutions to stimulate city economies via shopping, tourism, and luxury condos offer up sexy ideas of urban development. But ultimately, this pattern of neo-liberal problem-solving reinforces gentrification.
It’s a good point about neoliberalism and privatization and how the commoditization of urban space is responsible for “latte urbanism” leaving behind people who can’t afford to compete in the market.
On the other hand, the author doesn’t acknowledge that gentrification is the means by which urban space is physically upgraded and that it is part of a cycle in any free market where the alternative- so far as I can tell- is inner city blight or, at best, persistent low density on otherwise valuable land.
The question isn’t “how do we stop gentrification,” it’s “how do we redevelop cities- as we must- and do it equitably?”