The NY Times does a piece on how white’s are moving back into the central cities and the nearby suburbs that where abandoned in the 1950’s and 1960’s…..
White flight and white return are not opposite phenomena in American cities, generations apart. Here they are part of the same story.
In the places where white households are moving, reinvestment is possible mainly because of the disinvestment that came before it. Many of these neighborhoods were once segregated by law and redlined by banks. Cities neglected their infrastructure. The federal government built highways that isolated them and housing projects that were concentrated in them. Then banks came peddling predatory loans.
“A single-family detached house with a yard within a mile of downtown in any other part of the world is probably the most expensive place to live,” said Kofi Boone, a professor at North Carolina State University’s College of Design.
Here, because of that history, it’s a bargain. And while that briefly remains true in South Park, the disinvestment and reinvestment are visible side by side on any given street.
South Park grew up around Shaw University, a historically black college founded in 1865, and in the early 20th century it was home to black professors and doctors trained there, and to dozens of black-owned businesses.
With time, the disinvestment happened here, too: Two major roads severed the neighborhood; absentee landlords came in; a cherished park built in the 1930s began to deteriorate. Middle-class black families who’d previously been excluded from the suburbs began to move there.
Longtime residents who have remained now fear that the area’s sudden reinvention will erase the last remaining signs of its history.
“We don’t want to feel like everything is so bad you’ve got to tear it down,” said Lonnette Williams, 72, who lives in an elegant two-story home built by her godfather’s family in 1922. “We want people to value our neighborhood.”
Her sense of value, however, is different from — and often at odds with — the rising value of real estate. Her own home is appreciating, but that means little to her because she has no intention of selling. She looks at the half-million-dollar modern homes, and to her they detract from the neighborhood’s value.
“ ‘Gone With the Wind’ houses, beach houses, slave houses,” Octavia Rainey calls them. Ms. Rainey, 63, has lived her entire life in a nearby neighborhood, and to her the second-story porches rising around her look too much like overseers’ perches.
As the pace of home construction has increased, so too has the volume of mailers to longtime residents: “We pay $CASH$. As is! No cost or fees!”
“THIRD NOTICE,” some even warn, disguised as bills going soon to collection.
In the frenzy, a real estate agent once told Rosalind Blair Sanders that she wasn’t using her land to its full potential. She runs a child development center on the edge of downtown.
“Everyone has a price,” she was told.
She is baffled over the math of what the children are worth.