Gentrification: A National Trend With Local Examples

Sofa is one of several projects on the drawing boards in Delray

Sofa is one of several projects on the drawing boards in Delray

Gentrification is back.
So declared The Wall Street Journal today in a piece that talked about neighborhoods across the nation that are spiking in value as the housing market recovers.
According to the Journal, there is a cultural shift taking place in which people are flocking to walkable, urban neighborhoods where they can access retail, dining and cultural amenities unavailable in the suburbs.
Locally, downtown Delray Beach has been hot for awhile now, but for many years there was a lull in development downtown, especially residential development.
But recent projects including SOFA, Uptown, The Strand and Atlantic Crossing indicate a strong desire in the marketplace for downtown living.
Some residents are concerned about the number of units being added, fearing traffic, noise and a change to the “village by the sea” ambience that Delray has been known for.
Others don’t mind the new development but worry about the mix, saying that projects should be owner-occupied, not rentals and that developers should shun efficiency and one-bedroom units and aim for couples and empty-nesters rather than young singles.
“I am very interested in finding a unit downtown,” says Ryan Carr, a recent transplant from Maryland. “But I really don’t want to live in a Melrose Place type of situation with a lot of young people interested in partying on the avenue for a few years. I’d like to find a place where people own and will settle in and really make Delray Beach a long term home.”
Supporters of downtown housing say they don’t worry about traffic because urban dwellers want to live in a place where they don’t need or use their cars much.
“The whole idea of living downtown is not to drive,” says Sabrina Lebeau, who is renting this winter with the intention of finding a place downtown for a permanent home. “I love seeing the bikes, the golf carts and the trolleys and Downtowner. That’s the lifestyle that I’m seeking. And if I use a car, it will be for short trips to Publix or the pharmacy. I want to live in walking distance to shops, the beach and restaurants.”
Downtown Boca Raton is also beginning to take shape.
Mizner Park has a very lively restaurant and retail scene and east Boca is rife with amenities attractive to urban dwellers from boutiques and organic markets to concerts and downtown exercise classes.
But what about local emerging neighborhoods?
Local experts say all of east Boca is hot right now and in Delray locals are keeping a close watch on “south of the ave” where developers such as Related are making big bets.
Here’s what the Journal says to watch for to determine whether an area is gentrifying:
Median Household incomes are rising
Home values are appreciating faster than the city on average
Government is investing in local infrastructure
Has a dense, urban population
Is located near job centers
Has a strong retail base
Has an older, attractive housing stock
Home renovations are common.

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