December 6, 2015 |
A thousand years ago, 1978 to be exact, I traded a suburban apartment complex we called "Plywood Village" for a first-floor apartment in a rehabbed 19th-century hotel in Hartford, Conn., a few blocks from the state Capitol. I'm not sure who had been living in the Hotel Capitol before the rehab, but they likely were not well-to-do. I later completed a demographic study of the building on the way to a doctorate in history I was working toward but didn't finish because I moved to Philadelphia.
August 8, 2015 |
In most Philadelphia neighborhoods, two recent zoning cases would have been treated as routine proposals. One called for 22 rowhouses to rise from the rubble of a crumbling factory. The other sought permission to turn a trash-strewn lot into a summertime beer garden. But in Point Breeze, a zoning case is never just about zoning. And so the two proposals followed the usual script. There were angry meetings where the projects were denounced as accelerators of gentrification, and their developers vilified for "not giving back" to the community.
July 6, 2015 |
There may be no way to hold back the tide of gentrification in such neighborhoods as Fishtown, but Sandy Salzman is trying to find ways to keep it from washing away moderate-income residents. Salzman is executive director of New Kensington Community Development Corp., and the Awesometown townhouse project is its first foray into mixed affordable housing: 10 units selling at the market rate of about $400,000, and four subsidized by NKCDC to sell for half that, with the "winners" picked by lottery.
May 4, 2015 |
As neighbors filled the church pews and lined the aisles, they were warned: Don't talk about your property taxes tonight. But some feared the project on the table - 22 single-family houses spanning half a block of Point Breeze - would price them out of their homes. And the man at the front of the room, developer-turned-candidate Ori Feibush, seemed to only add to the anxiety. In minutes, people were shouting over the pews. "I would love change. But we want affordable change," a woman yelled into the microphone as others waited to speak.
April 23, 2015 |
At Front and Tasker sits the garage of Billy Ski and Fred O'Rourke. Lifelong friends, they are a couple of roofers in their 50s who spend most of their free time in the garage with a pit mix named Widdy - "like the dartboard," Billy explained - fixing up their antique cars. Like Billy's beautiful 1963 candy-apple Chevy Nova. If gentrification abounds in the neighborhood in the form of pricey new townhouses, it ends at Billy and Fred's metal gate. The garage is private. Strictly friends and family.
October 29, 2014 |
UP AND DOWN the 1500 block of North Dover Street, handwritten notes on yellow legal-size sheets of paper were tucked inside the storm doors of every house. "My name is Danielle . . . My husband is Kyle," the notes began. "We would like to buy your house. Please call or text me at (516) . . . " It then gives a number for the couple in Long Island, N.Y. Miss D, who lives in the middle of this tidy block of brick rowhouses - just east of 29th Street between Jefferson and Oxford - shows the note at her front door.
October 27, 2014 |
On Point Drive at the tip of Longport, where houses were cracked open two years ago by Hurricane Sandy's waves and wind, their multimillion-dollar vulnerability bared to the sea, all is as it was. The Hankins finished a total rebuild. The Tuchmans debated selling, but decided to do the repairs and keep their summer home after all. Marvin Ashner, who never left, not even during the storm, still answers his door beneath whimsical Blues Brothers statues. "Everybody's back," said Steven Hankin, an Atlantic City lawyer who lives on Point Drive, which overlooks the inlet's washing machine currents.
September 26, 2014 |
On an overcast morning in June, Chaplain Jeff Harley of the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission cast a skeptical eye down Pearl Street, an alley that's been caught up in - but has not caught up with - the burgeoning revitalization of the Chinatown North neighborhood. "I wouldn't take any pictures down there. They're selling drugs, getting high - they'll get really paranoid," he told Anula Shetty and Michael Kuetemeyer. The artists were there to collect panoramic images and video footage for what they're calling an interactive documentary, a mobile app that will explore the life of Pearl Street, and potentially create a chronicle of gentrification.
March 15, 2014 |
Pat Shannon purses his lips into a frown with each clip of the scissors and stroke of the razor, the lines across his face a testament to decades of repetition. Tucked in a tiny storefront in Wayne, Pat's Barber Shop has kept the same business model for more than 35 years: No appointments, no credit cards, and no frills. It will remain the same "as long as I have people coming in," Shannon said. In a Main Line town that boasts of fine dining and boutiques, Pat's Barber Shop is the place that gentrification forgot, a reminder of the past on North Wayne Avenue.
March 4, 2014 |
PEOPLE FROM all over Philadelphia came together Saturday to tell their stories about gentrification at the Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia. Organizers had issued fliers calling for an "emergency town hall" to confront a "crisis facing black Philadelphia: the demise of our neighborhoods. " In gentrification, some neighborhoods are targeted for revitalization - but the new development leads to huge rent or property-tax increases that often force longtime residents out. Sister Empress Phile, one of the organizers, said the group will host more town halls and ask for more public meetings, including congressional hearings.