What’s so new about “The Luxury City”?


Interesting article over at The American http://www.american.com/archive/2009/may-2009/the-luxury-city-vs-the-middle-class/

describing the ongoing transformation of urban cores into enclaves for the rich, as cities and developers focus on attracting aging baby boomers, and young, single professionals into high cost, high tax condo’s and developments. Meanwhile, the middle class continues its long exodus to the suburbs, and the working poor are crowded into urban pockets. I fail to see how this is any different then what has been going on for the past 30 years in the cities mentioned in the article (NYC, San Francisco, LA)

Minneapolis is also loaded with brand new (<10 year old) lofts, and condo’s. Most of them have gone into former industrial areas on the edges of downtown, and have no doubt helped to revitalize the tax base. However, it’s not as if blocks of homes are being torn down and replaced. The city, in particular, the downtown core, is and has always been more conducive to life without children. The suburbs of the 1920’s are places like Highland Park, ComoPark, St. Anthony Park in St. Paul, and Linden Hills in Minneapolis. These are the same neighborhoods that have been among the top of the housing market since the 1980’s. Moving further out, the post war inner ring suburbs like Richfield, Golden Valley, St. Anthony, Edina, and St. Louis Park, that once represented the limits of the city, are today seeing reinvestment, and younger populations moving in. Much ink is wasted on the Exurb McCastles that have been thrown up far out from downtown, but the fact is that despite the long commutes, these communities (and I use the term loosely) are still linked economically with the Metropolitan core. It’s not as if the middle class is migrating back to Main Street USA, to take over the family building and loan, and ask for Aunt Bea to help watch Susie and Jimmie.

This urban trend turning downtowns into playgrounds for the rich, while the poor are concentrated into ghetto’s, and the middle class moves to the suburbs to raise their family has been going on for at least 100 years. It is an outcome of the capitalist economic system, and it will not change until something fundamental in the economy is changed. It is no more sustainable now, than it has ever been. Am I missing something?

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One thought on “What’s so new about “The Luxury City”?

  1. What’s sad is that people like Richard Florida applaud the way that downtowns are being transformed. The ‘creative class’ takes over and the semi-skilled workers serve them.

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