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Gentrification Doesn’t Have To Be All Bad—Just Ask London

Gentrification Doesn’t Have To Be All Bad—Just Ask London

By Jeff Vasishta October 27, 2016

Gentrification. The dreaded “G” word. Along with Trump, Kardashian and “bae”, surely it has to be one of the most overused words of the year.  While many contest its attributes, by examining its effect, in conjunction with careful city planning, gentrification doesn’t have to be all doom and displacement. It could be a win-win for everyone. For example, in London, gentrification can help. New Yorkers, there may be hope yet.

Related: Free Fallin’: London Property Tumble Attracts Chinese Investors

Few can bemoan the stunning open air plaza at Kings Cross Railway Station in London. It opened in 2013 to the tune of £500 ($610 million), sparking a massive redevelopment of the neighborhood. The area was essentially a warren of prostitutes and drug addicts with shambolic public housing developments that seemed lifted straight from a Dickens novel. Disused warehouses hosted some great parties in the eighties and nineties but getting to and from them, stepping over prophylactics and syringes, could be a daunting prospect.

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The redevelopment began with the landmark St Pancras hotel and station. And behind the station, those disused warehouses were re-glazed, rebuilt and reopened as cultural spaces and places to dine, before Kings Cross Central took shape. What’s made St Pancras & Kings Cross so fascinating is the restoration of its Victorian-era charm along with modern flourishes.

Stanton Williams Architects crafted a new home for the much vaunted Central St Martin’s college of fashion, where hip chicks and dudes put on graduate shows beneath its distressed-brick walls. The derelict area around Regents Canal has gone from a wasteland to a joy land re-branded as the welcoming Granary Square filled with fountains and art students.

An obvious comparison in Manhattan is the High Line which has transformed and beautified the area, adding an affordable housing component. But with major developments planned for Penn Station, The Port Authority Bus Terminal and Grand Central there’s an ideal opportunity to merge something attractive and artistic along with the inevitably high priced real estate. Is there chance that New York developers could show a sensitive side and consider culture alongside commerce for once?

 

Jeff Vasishta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeff Vasishta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeff Vasishta

Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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