Dilemma of Gentrification

As our society has wedded with the radical and rapid growth, many places have failed to catch up with the growth. Especially, from primary industry to tertiary industry, the industrial movements in recent decades have entailed the structural change of the city. For example, we all know well about the case of the Detroit city.

In these regards, researches of how these leftover cities can be shifted for adapting to the current society are considered important matters. Lots of urban planning and landscape architecture schools tackle this topic in studio works to figure out the creative ways to regenerate these cities, and also many related professional competitions held frequently. This ardent attention to ‘urban regeneration’ or ‘gentrification’ seems like it will tailor our cities to being more balanced or idealistic.

Surely, this endeavor to convert the shrinking place to be vitalized should not be underestimated, but I‘d like to note that gentrification does not always ‘make people happy.’

In some shrinking urban area, there are remaining past industry and some of them still engage in what they have done, even if it yields less revenue. They chose ‘remaining’ instead of adapting or leaving, and it looks they deny the change. Also, in some other area, due to its low land value, poor artists gather around and make their community.

So the approach should be minded with these people and the situation. If the gentrification is focused on infrastructure and space rather than the people, even though it makes the place looks better, it would cause unwelcome change which they denied before. In addition, if it increases the land value, the people cannot cope with the raised tax and rental fee for housing. For instance, in Seoul, there was an artist’s village with old buildings, called Garosu. Artists gathered around this place because of not only its low land value but also its antique atmosphere emanated from old infrastructures. But after Seoul government decided to ameliorate the infrastructure, conglomerates invested funds in the place so that the land value was geometrically soared. Now? All artists left the place due to the uncontrollable rental fee and the Garosu village is converted to the commercial street overwhelmed by cosmetic stores and luxurious restaurants.

retail-01Developing urban infrastructure is a necessary process in terms of the city development. It would make the city more valuable and also make many positive by-effects. But before thinking the effects, we should consider the dilemma of gentrification and how we can mitigate it.

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