Interesting research that adds a wrinkle to the gentrification conversation: Todd Swanstrom writes about “rebound” neighborhoods in St. Louis and how they don't follow the typical “gentrification” pattern. Does this mean it can't happen? No, but it's a good reminder to look at what is actually happening, wherever you are, instead of making assumptions. I'll be very interested to see the follow up on these areas over the longer term.
Does it even make sense to use the term “gentrification” to describe improving “rebound neighborhoods” in weak market cities, especially when the neighborhoods are diverse and affordable for long term residents? It just muddles the policy conversation to use what has become a pejorative and largely ideological term in struggling legacy cities that could use some “rebound neighborhoods.”
Barbara, That’s a fair point. I think that was to some extent the point of the research even; what they found wouldn’t meet my definition of gentrification. On the other hand, I can tell you that the term gets used in those cities whenever revitalization begins, so I think it should be addressed rather than ignored. Also, I don’t think gentrification is impossible in these cities—it’s just less likely. But perhaps a better headline would have been “In Metros that Aren’t Booming, Some Neighborhoods Rebound Without Gentrification.”