A Few Thoughts on Renaissance Point

October 20, 2007 at 11:45 pm 5 comments

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Today I toured the model houses of Renaissance Point on John Street. You can see my photos here, though the other Scott has a better camera and his photos are available here.

Overall, I’ve been impressed with this whole development. For far too long there has been very little or nil investment in this part of town. Indeed, as I sat in the dining room of a Lancia home and talked at length with Rachel, I heard from almost everybody who came through that this is long overdo and that “it’s about time!” The overwhelming majority seems in favor of this.

However, Ms. Dowdell just happened to come into the house where Rachel and I were talking, and she said, when I asked her what she thought of all this, that she doesn’t like it because it’s displacement. Hmmm… Displacement. What’s she talking about, I wondered? She didn’t stay long enough to explain, but I was intrigued, and so I came home and Googled the words “gentrification and displacement”. Wow! A lot there.

So though I’m generally impressed with what’s being done, I have to admit I wonder about this issue. The prices of these new houses, while being less expensive than those being built elsewhere, are fairly affordable. And tons of incentives exist. But still, they are significantly more than anything else in that neighborhood. Who’s going to buy them? What will it mean for the low income, long term residents?

From “Gentrification, Integration, or Displacement: the Seattle Story”,

In 2006 former Seattle mayor Norm Rice, the city’s only African American to hold that position, summarized his frustration over the paradox of gentrification at a community forum in Seattle’s Central District. “I’m concerned and I am frustrated because I don’t know what the alternatives [to gentrification] are. [This process] clearly isn’t racist, it’s economic. The real question you have to ask yourself is: Is this good or bad?”

The questions are good ones, even if I’m not quite sure of the answers.

— Scott Greider

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Entry filed under: Architecture, city culture, Downtown, Neighborhoods, Scott Greider, Urbanism.

Renaissance Pointe photos Can it be this simple?

5 Comments

  • 1. Scott Spaulding  |  October 21, 2007 at 1:07 am

    Great pictures, Scott!

    It’s very interesting to see what catches your eye in comparison with what I saw (or didn’t see).

  • 2. Phil Marx  |  October 21, 2007 at 6:06 am

    Scott,

    I liked the pictures, and thanks for the links to the other related sites. I don’t want my comments here to be perceived as being against this project, but I think there’s a side to this story that anyone who contemplates buying at Renaissance Pointe should be aware of.

    The proponents of this project seem to think it will have a major impact upon this area of the city. It won’t! My home is only one half mile East of Renaissance Point. My immediate neighborhood is one of the most active areas of illegal drug activity in the city. This activity often turns violent. While this violence may be directed at other criminals, it often falls upon innocent persons as well.

    Granted, there are many good things to be said about this neighborhood, and the people in it. And I am in no way suggesting that to say this area is infested with violent crime is a complete assessment, but it is an accurate one. For people who would move to this area, this characteristic alone would probably outweigh most of the good points.

    I have lived here for twelve years. These problems have existed much longer than that. Our police department is either unable or unwilling to deal with the situation effectively. My neighborhood, which broadly speaking includes Renaissance Pointe, will not be improved significantly until the open and often violent criminal activity is brought under control. Anyone who is not used to this type of activity will be in for a shock if they move here.

  • 3. Jennifer Jeffrey  |  October 21, 2007 at 11:14 am

    I have a lot to add, spending time with some of the people concerned about the project….but probably not ready for press. Anyone want to hep find some answers let me know.

  • 4. Mitchell  |  October 22, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    Gentrification is an unfortunate side-effect of urban renewal. Unfortunately we have not found an effective solution to the gentrification problem. However, studies have shown that investment in deteriorating neighborhoods has reduced crime.

    The City of Chicago is currently trying a mixed-income model to reduce gentrification for their redevelopment of the Robert Taylor Homes site. It includes construction of 2,388 mixed-income rental and homeownership units, community facilities, and new retail space. Approximately 851 of the planned 2,388 units will be public housing replacement units. The location and design of the public housing units will not differ from the market rate units.

  • 5. credo  |  October 25, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    Great Post. As I explained to you, I’ve lived in the area for a loong time. I suggested that had those homeowners who lived there were able to cash in their current home for a new one and only having to pay the different would I have thought it was good deal for the neighborhood.

    Otherwise, I believe it is displacement of the current residents for more affluent residents. When you find time please drive by Wayne Trace and give me your views on the Sterling Group development in that area.

    Thanks.

    P.S.

    I did say that they had a vase in the bathroom just like one that I had. I love the furniture and the the various decorum in the home. I believed that added to the excitement of the many viewing the homes.


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