Stephen Danley at nextcity.org makes a resonant point about the risk that redevelopment can pass local residents by. In his case, he wants to talk about….Camden. Have you ever spent any time in Camden? Are you familiar with its attractive riverfront location? Its affordable housing? Or do you think of it as:
“…the part of New Jersey that is so bad, everyone tries to forget it exists. Except it’s probably worse than everybody realizes…”
Danley argues that development in Camden is aimed specifically at out-of-towners, with little thought given to long-time residents, who are mostly poor. This touches on issues of redevelopment, gentrification and displacement. Is it a good thing if Camden becomes a nicer place to live, if long-term residents find they can’t afford to live there any more?
Although Princeton has little in common with Camden, this question reminds us of Princeton’s own notorious history of displacing long-term residents for redevelopment. It also affects how we view our own local Detroit: Trenton. This week, Trenton mayor Tony Mack requested additional state aid to pay for police officers in Trenton. The city is falling apart, with rampant criminality and gang violence, despite a beautiful, walkable downtown area with fantastic historic heritage.
If we add walkable, compact, mixed-use housing, it will likely make the town a more desirable place to live, pushing up property prices. How will this affect those in our community who are of moderate means and can least afford increases in property taxes? Bob Hillier’s current proposal to redevelop Witherspoon Street seems like a fantastic way to improve quality of life in our town, but is it worthwhile if long-term residents feel required to move elsewhere? Clearly, we need to work to ensure that the benefits of redevelopment accrue just as much to long-term residents as to newcomers.
Is it inevitable that redevelopment will negatively affect long-term residents? Or can we all enjoy the benefits of new growth? Leave a comment below!