Now that we have established that gentrification is a thing, at least for those impacted by it, it’s worth noting that there are good and bad sides to it, and that includes when neighborhoods get environmental makeovers.
Neighborhood improvements like upgraded sewage infrastructure, LEED-certified green buildings, and bike lanes are great, but, counterintuitively, they can freak out residents of under-resourced communities who fear that such projects might price them out. When that happens, you’ve got what Jennifer Wolch, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, calls “environmental gentrification.”
The National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC), a committee of non-government, community-based stakeholders that helps steer EPA policies, examined this phenom in its 2006 report, “The Unintended Impacts of Redevelopment and Revitalization Efforts in Five Environmental Justice Communities.”
D.C. was one of the five environmental justice communities studied for the report, with a focus on Navy Yard, the southeastern neighborhood that sits along the Anacostia river. Today, nine years after that report, the Navy Yard has been almost completely transformed from its former less-than-welcoming conditions. Once saturated with the blighted brown-space of abandoned federal buildings, it’s now flush with greenspace, bike lanes, a gorgeous set of condos, apartments, and townhouses overlooking the river. ….