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Week 10: Gentrification

November 30, 2011

What kinds of reactions and mental images are conjured by words and phrases such as gentrification and urban renewal/revitalization? Thinking about the context of community and our previous discussions, what questions do you have for the leadership of 3CDC as we prepare for our visit?

“Gentrification” has a negative connotation, as does the word “gentry” in general.  The term calls up the silly mental image of a rich man, the stereotypical 1%-er in a suit and tie, deciding to put a massive McMansion in the dingiest part of Over-the-Rhine.  I suppose that image also says a lot about my mental image of Over-the-Rhine, that it seems impossible to improve it to the level where a rich businessman would fit in.  However, I would say that it’s a useful image because it’s a reminder that low-income people are a part of OTR and any attempt at revitalizing the area has to account for that.  “Urban renewal” has a much better connotation to me.  It suggests cleaning things up and making things better without making suggestions about the sort of people who benefit.

I already talked a bit about what 3CDC is doing in my post about Elementz (week 4), so I suppose the best questions to ask would focus on whether what they are doing is the best way to achieve their goals.  How will you know if your plan is effective?  Are there any similar urban renewal efforts you can compare this to?    How does your approach to urban renewal promote connections in the community, or to put it another way, how do your new developments integrate with the existing environment?  What will make people want to live in your new buildings?

UPDATE:  As it turns out, these questions got answered in the course of their presentation, and we came up with much more interesting questions instead.  There are a lot of cool details in 3CDC’s plans, which I’ll expand on at a later date.

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