Signs that gentrification is coming

30Jul11
Visitacion Valley Library weeks before completion

I like my neighborhood. I am pretty sure that a lot of the people who live here would say the same thing. It’s not the busiest or the hot spot where everyone comes; in fact it’s not even on most maps that outsiders see of this fair city. Yet, we are here plugging away trying to be a little neighborhood. We have a coffee shop, a dry cleaners, a couple of bodegas, and the city just opened our new, fancy library. While much of the neighborhood is still as it has been for decades, there is no doubt that changes are coming.

Inside Savers
Photo by Neo Veavea

I really started thinking about the process of incremental gentrification because of the closure of a store that most of the city probably didn’t even know existed. Right on the edge of our neighborhood was a store similar to Goodwill, called Savers.

Building formerly rented by Savers

Basically it was a thrift store. People donated items from clothing to household good to books and toys and they were sold here. Savers partnered with non-profits and gave them proceeds from the sales. For families on a budget, it was a great place to shop.

New condo turned apartment building

Alas, in a neighborhood with one new high end apartment building recently leased up and another just starting their leasing process, Savers got squeezed out by high rents. Both of the buildings were actually supposed to be high end condos but because of the market downturn, they are now renting to fill them up. With little fanfare, at the end of May, Savers closed.

Now back to the pesky question, gentrification, can it be done in a good way? In this case, a pretty derelict part of the neighborhood has gotten shiny new buildings and new residents. I don’t know how much these people will be out in the neighborhood considering there are only a few amenities currently in the immediate vicinity – the busiest probably the McDonald’s or KFC.

KFC across from former Savers store

However, with easy access to highways and a quick bus ride to regional transit, I think the signs are that this part of the neighborhood will look very different five or 10 years from now, if not sooner. The former Savers shoppers now have to travel to other neighborhoods to get those thrift prices. For families trying to hold on to their pennies, this could be one more hurdle in their finances. Gentrification is coming. Hopefully the people here will be able to enjoy it not get pushed out by it.