Gentrification in Philadelphia: Residents weigh in on how development ‘changes the look of the neighborhood’

The conversation, hosted by WHYY’s N.I.C.E. team, focused on the influx of wealth and redevelopment of Philly’s neighborhoods.

Dozens gathered to discuss the hot button issue at the Ubuntu Fine Art Gallery. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Dozens gathered to discuss the hot button issue at the Ubuntu Fine Art Gallery. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Residents gathered in Germantown Wednesday to discuss the impacts gentrification can have on Philadelphia’s neighborhoods.

The event, organized by WHYY’s News and Information Community Exchange team, took place at the Ubuntu Fine Art Gallery. The conversation focused on the influx of wealth and the redevelopment of neighborhoods. While displacement is a possibility for some, others can benefit from quality-of-life increases.

WHYY’s Community Conversation Convener Amir Richardson moderated the discussion on gentrification at the Ubuntu Fine Art Gallery in Germantown on Mar. 29, 2023. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Recent events, including the UC Townhomes encampment and Chinatown’s opposition to a proposed 76ers basketball arena on Market Street, were brought up as examples of gentrification.

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Attendees noted how new developments can emerge almost out of nowhere, leaving parts of communities looking outdated and obsolete. Alexa Strus said she can see a stark contrast when driving from Germantown to Chestnut Hill, one of Philadelphia’s most affluent neighborhoods.

Alexa Strus addressed the contrast one can see just by driving on Germantown Avenue. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

“Chestnut Hill, you know, in our discussions, it’s like that’s a lot of old money and there’s a lot of resources there that been there for a really long time,” Strus said. “But yeah, how do we get some of that flowing down here?”

“The amounts of some of these locations that are within neighborhoods, i.e. the homes are already here on the streets and you’ve plopped like four new cribs of a different habitat that changes the look of the neighborhood on that one block,” Cheryl Jones added.

Cheryl Jones’s family has lived in Germantown for decades, and has seen the changes in the neighborhood over the years. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Others said the developments often lead to longtime residents being pushed out due to rent increases.

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The event was part of N.I.C.E.’s Bridging Blocks series, a civic engagement initiative between WHYY and The Free Library of Philadelphia.

Broke in PhillyWHYY is one of over 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push towards economic justice. Follow us at @BrokeInPhilly.

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