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Research assignment: research into the nuances of green gentrification | DeBuzz | Sections | DePaul University Newsline

A stock photo of a neighborhood park.
(Photo by 7maru/iStock)

While studies have shown that access to green space such as parks and gardens has positive effects on the people who have access to them, introducing green space into low-income communities could contribute to displacing the very people it is intended to is that they benefit from it.

Michelle Stuhlmacher, assistant professor of geography, recently published two studies that provide new insight into green gentrification. Each article examines the impact of green spaces on gentrification and how city planners can limit the risk of gentrification when introducing green areas into neighborhoods.

“Green gentrification is the idea that new green investments can increase the desirability of a neighborhood in a way that attracts higher-income outsiders who move into the neighborhood,” Stuhlmacher says. “As a result, these investments increase property values ​​and potentially displace current residents who can no longer afford higher rental or property tax costs.”

Stuhlmacher’s first study examines the conditions under which a new park contributes to gentrification in Chicago. Researchers found that a new park only contributed to gentrification if it was located near an already gentrifying area that lacked both pre-existing green space and government-supported public housing. The research also showed that a new park in areas with sufficient greenery did not lead to gentrification.

The second study tests whether the construction of new parks tends to precede or follow gentrification by analyzing changes in the neighborhoods of Chicago and Los Angeles. By comparing home sales prices before and after the construction of neighborhood parks, researchers found that gentrification follows the opening of new parks more often in Los Angeles than in Chicago. However, it usually precedes the opening of new parks in both cities.

Taken together, this research suggests that the impact of a green space is largely determined by how it relates to other neighborhood conditions. By providing a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between green spaces and gentrification, these studies support informed urban planning decisions moving forward.

“The results of these two collaborations are encouraging for closing the green space gap,” says Stuhlmacher. “Research like this can add nuance to the pathways to greening with and without gentrification, giving city planners more tools to address the lack of green space. in disinvested neighborhoods without displacing existing residents.”

Stuhlmacher’s co-authors include Jieun Kim and Yushim Kim at Arizona State University, Alessandro Rigolon and Timothy Collins at the University of Utah, and Jon Christensen at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The articles are now published online in the “Journal of Urban Affairs” and “Landscape and Urban Planning.”


Jade Walker is a student assistant in media relations and communications at University Communications.