the city, paying rents they can afford. Those tend to be the edgier
But emerging can also mean where the affordability allows for
an uptick in single-family homes, where he sees movement in
Tjarksen specifies what signals the “tipping point” for gentrifica-
tion: “When you see the number of bachelor’s degrees climb in a
submarket that’s one indication. The second indication is home
ownership. People who are buying two flats and converting them to
single-family homes or renovating them and living there as well,
and renting out the upstairs.”
She says an emerging neighborhood’s timeline generally starts
10 years before the tipping point, and then takes another 10 years
for the market to reach maturity.
Although people describe gentrification as making areas more
livable, downsides can include what Jane Jacobs describes in The
Death and Life of Great American Cities. The neighborhoods can
become the victim of their own success, getting too popular, pushing up the rents so high that the quirky independent shops can no
longer afford to stay. Chain stores fill the area and long-term residents get pushed out by the higher rents and cost of living.
“That’s a tough one,” says Clayco’s Schactman. He notes some
developers are “really trying to retain as much authenticity of the
neighborhood as possible.” However, with candor he says, “But I
don’t know a developer anywhere in Chicago that performs less
than $30 or $35 [per square foot] on retail rents which a Mom and
Pop probably isn’t going to be able to do.”
He says, “There’s a real push pull between gentrification and
affordable housing. There may be elderly people who have lived in
areas for 30, 40 years and may not be able to afford to live there,”
when neighborhoods change. But with the high costs of construc-
tion he adds, “Unless we get subsidies from various groups, we can’t
build workforce housing.”
Tjarksen adds, “Every developer in the city believes that inclu-
sionary housing is important to the stability of neighborhoods and
that workforce housing in place needs to be maintained.” However,
whether that gets delivered through rent control or affordable
housing ordinances is still up for discussion.
She states mandates for rent control or affordable housing can
THE CRUCIAL ROLE GOVERNMENT
have unintended consequences of making the cost of building no
longer penciling out, which will result in
less construction. She cites a Cushman &
Wakefield report finding inclusionary
housing is predicated on the continued
development of market-rate housing.
Scott Metzner, the founder and principal
of Janus Property Co., the developer frequently cited in the media as “changing the face of West Harlem”
has been building in that area since his company was founded in
1989. Metzner describes the neighborhood as emerging—for the
last 30 years.
Janus is actively developing in the Manhattanville Factory
District between W. 125th and W. 128th streets. It comprises three
acres of old industrial buildings and vacant lots within a special
mixed-use rezoning district. Within the expansive commercial and
residential area, the New York City Economic Development Corp.
selected Janus along with Monadnock Construction to develop the
Taystee Bakery complex. It stretches from W. 125th Street to W.
126th Street, east of Amsterdam. Janus has already completed renovations of the Mink Building and the Sweets Building.
In the early 2000s, the firm completed a gut rehab of 13 buildings from 111th Street to 116th Street in Central Harlem. The New
York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development
noted this track record so worked with Janus on a project at 132 W.
112th Street. They combined an abandoned vacant structure with
ground-up construction on an adjacent lot, creating 41 units of
affordable rental housing.
Metzner states the government plays a critical role in urban
renewal. In West Harlem, the City of New York took ownership of a
substantial amount of land and buildings and rolled out redevelopment projects.
“Over time between the city and state efforts, federal programs,
the Reinvestment Act, low income housing tax credits, new market
tax credits and now Opportunity Zones, the projects have become
more attractive for private investment and as places where people
have different means to live and to socialize and to recreate,” he says.
In the Factory District, their buildings have served multiple uses
for artists, architects, medical services, retail, art galleries, nonprofits and life science research. He says the city and community
were looking to convert the area previously zoned for manufacturing, into “almost an uptown downtown, a master-planned, smaller
district, inside West Harlem including the first purpose-built life
science building under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s life science initiative.”
Although much of Janus developments occurred in vacant
areas, largely without residential displacement, Metzner acknowledges displacement of residents can occur when neighborhood
values increase in rent.
Aksarben Village is part of Omaha’s economic growth of the last