The gentrification of Sunnyslope, Maryvale, and downtown Phoenix, Arizona
The term "gentrification" is applied to an neighborhood that is, uh, less than fashionable, or to use a term that no one uses anymore - "blighted", and is going through the process of restoration or replacement of old buildings. Right now I'm watching Sunnyslope, Maryvale, and downtown Phoenix going through the process of gentrification.
As an old Californian, I know that gentrification means that an area becomes too expensive for the people who have been living there, sometimes for generations, and the ordinary grocery stores become replaced with expensive "boutique" shops. The neighborhoods get prettier, but it displaces a lot of people who need affordable housing.
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When I moved back to Phoenix from Los Angeles in 1989, I was particularly fascinated with Sunnyslope. To my eyes it just seemed impossible that an area with such beautiful mountain views could be so, uh, less-than-fashionable. I wondered why Central Avenue didn't just go up into the mountains and have mansions there. Of course, it does now. And the process continues. If you remember Dunlap east of Central Avenue from before the current stuff was built there, it's just amazing. Of course, Sunnyslope is moving slowly in the direction of gentrification, and unless you saw it in the 1980s, you would probably not be impressed by what you see now.
I'm also watching Maryvale. I've been watching how Grand Canyon University has changed the Camelback corridor from I-17 to 35th Avenue, and how they restored the old Maryvale Golf Course. Beautification, and gentrification, of Maryvale, could be on its way.
Downtown Phoenix went through a period of gentrification that began in the 1980s, and has recently sped up tremendously. Of course, memories are short, so all the families that lived in all of the houses that were condemned, torn down, or turned into trendy restaurants, are forgotten by most people.
When I worked for Bank One, back in the '90s, I discovered an old map of Phoenix from the 1960s that clearly marked - in red - blighted areas. And that meant that loans were not to be given to those areas. And without home improvement loans, and construction loans, neighborhoods don't get the attention they need. But when a lot of attention is given suddenly, the process can be shocking. I'm keeping an eye on things, I'll let you know what I see.
Image at the top of this post: S Mountain in Sunnyslope in the 1960s.
Posted by Brad Hall