Day 47 #100dayproject: Coffee Places and Gentrification.

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Walking on the Cisneros Malecón at Miraflores (Peru), I noticed that coffee shops and gourmet coffee shops are more likely to find it near of the gentrificated places in cities. I don’t know how exactly the mechanism working, because is invisible at present time, but the answer that I read from Neil Smith, is – for me – the best of all:

The central mechanism behind gentrification can be thought of as a ‘rent gap.’ When neighborhoods experience disinvestment, the ground rent that can be extracted from the area declines, which means lower land prices.

As this disinvestment continues, the gap between the actual ground rent in the area and the ground rent that could be extracted were the area to undergo reinvestment becomes wide enough to allow that reinvestment to take place. [1]

But only wealthier people are able to afford the costs of this renewed investment. Integral with these economic shifts are social and cultural shifts that change the kinds of shops, facilities and public spaces in a neighborhood. This process of displacement is what English geographer David Harvey calls ‘accumulation by dispossession’ lie at the core of urbanization under capitalism system[2].

In words of David Madden[3] for The Guardian, the process of gentrification follows a logical pattern: the urban poor neighborhoods with a rich counterculture are defined by the government or the market forces by “needed of an urban regeneration o revitalization”, as if the problems were the lethargy, and don’t the inequality or poverty[4]. The new populations, in fact, substitute the local people[5].

Maybe Juan Valdez Coffee doesn’t know how to promote their organic coffee in other places. Or the problem are the creative classes and the hipster that take advantage of the gentrification and impose their cultural options and preferences in places who has some “typical/authentically spirit of [insert name of some city here]”.

Then, when the hipsters or creative classes took that spaces, other social classes with more capital but less initiative – the outsiders, the social climbers and the upper-middle classes – came in mass for the “new experience”, the “renaissance of [insert name of some city here] neighborhood[6].. The final touch is proposed by national television telling us of that neighborhood is the new hot destination for summer or weekend.


[1] http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304431104579548180813018854

[2] Harvey, The New Imperialism, Oxford 2003, chapter 4.

[3] http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/10/gentrification-not-urban-renaissance

[4] Lucía Lijtmaer: La gentrificación, ¿el producto de una economía hipster? 26 Septiembre, 2014. Yorokobu. Available at: http://www.yorokobu.es/la-gentrificacion-el-producto-de-una-economia-hipster/

[5] Maciocco, G. (2008). The Territorial Future of the City. New York: Springer New York.

[6] Lees L (2000). A re-appraisal of gentrification: towards a geography of gentrification. Progress in Human Geography, 24(3), pp. 389–408.

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