Gentrification and Krog Street Market
According to the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), gentrification is a general term for the arrival of wealthier people in an existing urban district, a related increase in rents and property values, and changes in the district’s character and culture. Gentrification is spreading throughout Atlanta, the United States, and all over the world. Atlanta has been heavily impacted by gentrification, and it will continue to be affected for the foreseeable future.
Before getting into how gentrification is changing Atlanta, it is important to understand what gentrification is and what it does to a community. Like stated above, PBS states that gentrification is when wealthier people arrive in an existing urban district. However, this is not the only description of gentrification. There is much more to it than just the arrival of a wealthier group of people. Gentrification also impacts four aspects of a city: demographics, real estate markets, land use, and culture and character.
Typically, with gentrification, when it comes to demographics, an increase in median income occurs as well as a decline in racial minorities. Gentrification causes extremely large increases in home prices which trigger an increase in evictions and conversion of land into mixed-use (live, work, play) facilities. Gentrification often leads to a decline of industrial uses of land as well as an increase in office space and condos (essentially fewer single-family homes along with more apartments). Finally, gentrification can cause new definitions about what is desirable along with new standards for architecture, public behavior, noise, and landscaping in a community. While it is true that the existing homeowners benefit from the rising prices of their houses, the displacement of the minorities and small businesses that can no longer afford to rent in the gentrified area is a large repercussion. An example of the negative impact of gentrification would be 49 Waddell Street (discussed below). The price of the home, overall, has increased by almost $200,000. However, taxes have gone down on the home almost by 10%. This will be discussed more in detail below, but this is just another example of how gentrification benefits the wealthy homeowners while depriving the non-homeowner renters of an affordable place to live. While some people praise gentrification for revitalizing an area, others complain that it has many problems that come with it. The costs of gentrification come with a plethora of unintended consequences.
Gentrification and Atlanta (Old Fourth Ward)
Atlanta, like the other growing cities in the United States, is no stranger when it comes to gentrification. Throughout history, gentrification has impacted different areas of Atlanta and the results have been mixed. “Live, work, play” developments are popping up all over the city. Where historic neighborhoods once stood now stand cookie-cutter high-rise apartments making it difficult to discern one distinct neighborhood from the next. The price of housing is increasing by hundreds of thousands of dollars, pushing out poorer families and replacing them with wealthy singles or couples. This transformation has not come overnight, but rather has been a long process that has taken several years.
This Built Environment Analysis will examine the Old Fourth Ward area of Atlanta, specifically Krog Street Market and its impact on the surrounding neighborhood. According to The New York Times, Old Fourth Ward, once a predominantly black neighborhood, now has less than 75% black residents, which is down from the 94% black residents that was recorded in 1990 (for reference, this article was published in 2006, so it is safe to assume the number of black residents has gone down even more due to gentrification). Also, housing prices have skyrocketed while low-rent apartments have been torn down and replaced by new developments targeting a wealthier constituent. More and more white Atlanta citizens are moving into these once African American dominated areas, a key trend when it comes to the gentrification of the city. Because of gentrification in Atlanta, minority renters of low-income areas are being forced out of their homes due to the higher rent that wealthier white Atlantans can pay. This is a natural consequence of gentrification.
Krog Street Market History
Krog Street Market does not have a very long history, but the building it resides in does, dating back all the way to 1889. The building was first used by the Atlanta Stove Works company. The Atlanta Stove Works was a manufacturer of the “Barrett Range,” a cast-iron stove made in Atlanta. This innovation in cooking made the company a lot of money, so much so that by 1935 they were already making about $500,000 a year and by 1969 the business had grown to over $35,000,000 in sales. However, in 1987 Atlanta Stove Works went out of business. This left the buildings the company ran its operations out of empty. There was a giant piece of property going until around 2004 when some of the buildings were renovated to be mixed-use developments and restaurants (which marks the beginning of the gentrification of the area). In 2006, Tyler Perry purchased the entire plot of land and converted all the buildings into Tyler Perry Studios, where multiple movies, stage plays and television programs were filmed and performed. The idea for Krog Street Market began in 2012. Tyler Perry sold the land to Paces Properties. By 2014, the transformation of the studio into a market had been completed, and Krog Street Market opened its doors to the public. The creation and opening of Krog Street Market was the catalyst behind the gentrification of not only Krog Street Market but also the neighborhood surrounding it.
Krog Street Market Gentrification
To better observe how Krog Street Market was being impacted by gentrification, I studied one house that is for sale on Waddell Street, the street that is next to Krog Street Market. This street is exclusively single-family homes so studying this one home would give me an idea if the gentrification due to Krog Street Market was having an effect on the residencies in the area.
What I found was unbelievable. Zillow, a website where people can list their homes for sale, includes a helpful feature that shows how the price of the home has changed over time. When looking at 49 Waddell Street, there is a clear trend that is happening with the price of this particular home. This home’s price has increased steadily over a relatively short time, a sign of gentrification. Looking at the house, in 2013, a year before Krog Street Market was opened, the house was valued at $501,000.
This is a lot considering that the average price for a home in Atlanta at that time was $136,000. In August 2014, the month that Krog Street Market opened, the price of the house increased, most likely due to the opening of the market. The new value of the home was $561,000 (up $60,000) while the average price for a home in Atlanta increased to $158,000.
Finally, in August of 2016, the value of the house next to Krog Street Market has jumped all the way to $630,000. The average price of a home in Atlanta, in comparison, has increased to $195,000.
The increase of home value confirms gentrification in the area of Krog Street Market is occurring. Because Krog Street Market was constructed, housing costs went up, thereby impacting who could afford to reside in those homes. To make matters worse, the owner of 49 Waddell Street paid less in taxes in 2015 ($6,407) than he or she did in 2006 ($7,084). This is a decrease of $677, or almost 10%. Somehow the price of the home has increased nearly $200,000 but the amount of taxes paid by the owner has decreased by $677. How can a community survive and thrive when the taxpayers are not doing their part? Especially when school resources are dependent on the property tax values of the homeowners who live in the community! This is the dark side of gentrification.
Krog Street Market is a new, innovative retail space that features restaurants and shops right off the Beltline. It attracts thousands of visitors every year and creates a great environment for shopping, eating, and fun. However, the cost of Krog Street Market was more than simply the construction funds. Because of Krog Street Market’s building, the gentrification of the area surrounding it has increased. Gentrification affects all of Atlanta, but now the neighborhoods surround Krog Street Market are experiencing its effects. Krog Street Market has led to an increase in the price of homes surrounding the market. They have increased by hundreds of thousands of dollars since the market was constructed and opened its doors, the increase of cost being a clear indicator that gentrification is taking place. Because of the increase of prices, low-income families cannot live in these houses anymore. Only wealthy people, couples, or families can reside in these homes. While Krog Street Market has done a lot for the community by providing a place to relax, shop, and eat, its effects have been bad for the lower income residents who used to live in the neighborhood. Because of Krog Street Market, gentrification has taken hold of the surrounding area, and its effects are being clearly seen and felt and will be for some time.