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Gentrification in Richmond

WCVE News & NPR are doing a series called “Where We Live”. It’s a look at housing issues, history, etc. in the Richmond, VA area. Below is one of the segments which features a local resident J.L. Roots. She tells us about her time here in the East End.

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Tina Bujno 05/01/2019 at 1:35 PM

Housing cost and inclusion of long-term residents in the decision making around how and what type of development is key to continuing to support a healthy, sustainable community.

Lane Jennison 05/02/2019 at 11:10 PM

Tina Bujno I totally agree with your statement, but the how part seems so challenging.

Like how do housing costs get controlled to keep them from surging? Ex: although the architecture has been preserved, did the requirements from CAR, drive costs up?

The GRTC route redesign, appeared to make sincere efferts for community feedback by having several local forums, surveys, and votes… yet the outcome seemed to negatively long-term residents that are dependent on public transit.

This stuff seems so hard to get right

Ryan Herndon 05/01/2019 at 1:37 PM

As a former homeowner in Fulton it is long due. The east end and Chruch Hill will be a better place.

Dionna Dawn 05/03/2019 at 7:23 AM

Ryan Herndon you’re disgusting

Rachel Pater 05/01/2019 at 1:43 PM

I haven’t read you article but as a white person who lives here, I’m furious at whatever it says. ?jk keep up the good work guys!

Anna Diaz 05/01/2019 at 3:15 PM

Rachel Pater of course its hilarious to you. Richmond has one of the highest evictions rates in the the country. It’s bold you push for the continuation of gentrification

Emily Klinedinst 05/01/2019 at 4:18 PM

I think you might have misinterpreted her intent.

Rachel Pater 05/01/2019 at 4:29 PM

Anna Diaz this was tongue-in-cheek!

Leon Buckminster Lewis 05/01/2019 at 4:31 PM

Glad you can laugh at this…I guess you just want to make clear that you’re part of the problem.

It’s not just about race, it’s about financial equality, opportunity and defining your community by everyone that’s around you and not just who you meet at the faux-fancy restaurant or market.

Rachel Pater 05/01/2019 at 4:32 PM

I was being sarcastic – poking fun at folks who get mad at any talk about gentrification and its ramifications. Reread my comment?

Ryan Herndon 05/01/2019 at 4:57 PM

Leon Buckminster Lewis sorry but I lived on those neighborhoods. Best thing that could ever happen. Trash begat trash…

Rachel Pater 05/01/2019 at 5:01 PM

Ryan, people are not trash. Full stop.

Anna Diaz 05/02/2019 at 2:21 AM

See how it’s hard to read sarcasm. When people like Ryan move into this city that I’ve lived in for the past decade Richmond loosing the charm in which made me fall in love with this city.

Ryan Herndon 05/02/2019 at 6:50 AM

Anna Diaz I’ve been here 20 years. Owning a house in Fulton was a horrible experience. Roaming group of kids and teens constantly terrorizing neighborhoods. But please keep acting like you know something.

Dionna Dawn 05/03/2019 at 7:23 AM

What is your point, Ryan? Because of your experiences you think people should be displaced from their neighborhoods and tossed aside?

Charles Nance 05/01/2019 at 2:17 PM

She’s a sweetheart. I’ve felt very welcome on West Broad Street and grateful to connect with some longtime residents. Will be miss many when we move back to Westhampton in a few months.

Paul Granger 05/01/2019 at 2:19 PM

Mary White Thompson shares some similar words on this a few years ago:

Paul Granger 05/01/2019 at 2:19 PM Reply
Joshua Bilder 05/01/2019 at 3:10 PM

I’m proud of my work at The New East End. Putting a picture of my project under the headline of gentrification is a mischaracterization. It was a pile of rubble and flith. I didn’t take an old neighborhood building and tear anything down, I revitalized it and rebuilt it. Including paying over $100k to reconstruct the historic sign. There are black, white, asian and hispanics living there. Not to mention people from every denomination Muslims, Jews and Gentiles living in the building. In fact that is what Church Hill its a melting pot, a mixture of people from different back grounds. How about the Lebanese Christian community that had a church on 33rd street (Saint Stevens) or that lived on Veneble street? My friends grandfather owned a store that was torn down to build the police station. Or the Jewish community that lived on 19th, 20th, 21st street. My great grandfather Julius Shapiro owned a used furniture store on 18th street and lived on 20th and Broad(before the home was demolished to build condos). In fact the sign on his store was still visible until it was recently covered up by a survivalist store. Or the 19th Street Synagogue that was chopped up into condominiums, the womans entrance and staircase turned into some ones apartment and the mikva filled in with concrete. Are there signs for these communities does anyone know they existed here? Is an expose going to be done on them? Thanks.

Lori Dachille 05/01/2019 at 3:59 PM

Richmond is setting itself up to be a suburb of DC. A lot of companies are moving their HQ here. Give it 5-10 years.

arthur Burton 05/01/2019 at 4:02 PM

Having arrived here nearly 30 years ago, I would love to talk about my experiences as a black person.

G 05/01/2019 at 4:21 PM

Oh my gosh – has that woman tried introducing herself to the people around her? How can she say she doesn’t have neighbors, that is SO WEIRD. I think if you talk to almost anyone in Church Hill, they will NOT have had that experience. Black, white, renter, owner, old, young. She says having neighbors is having kids grow up together, but that’s only one kind of neighborhood, but not all. People without kids can be neighbors too! That’s really unfair to us without kids – you’re saying I can never be your neighbor if I don’t have kids?

I am actually REALLY offended by her statement and what she implies – that the “whites” are insular and don’t talk to her. Totally has NOT been my experience in this neighborhood. Would love to have John Murden or the East End Fellowship people weigh in on this, wonder if they’re as offended as me. Maybe this woman is standoff-ish to people not exactly like her, seems more likely!

Also, I hate to say it again, but always keep in mind that not every white face is new to the neighborhood, and not every black face is old to the neighborhood. Lots of new residents are black, and a lot of the longer-term residents are now white. Of course, we’re not all 80 years old, but some of us have spent our entire adult lives (however long that might be) in Church Hill.

Juliette M Dixon 05/02/2019 at 1:00 AM

Watch this video

This helps to explain gentrification. Hope it helps with the confusion.

MP 05/02/2019 at 1:58 AM

Paul – thank you for posting Mary Thompson’s interview, she is a gem. She is very welcoming to all people in the neighborhood, and wants the newcomers involved in the neighborhood. Very different and much more positive than this Roots woman.

Ella 05/02/2019 at 6:11 AM

@Joshua Bilder. Thank you for sharing that information. It helps us all learn about our community. Thank you for your beautiful renovation.

The U.....nion Hill 05/02/2019 at 7:49 AM

My block was nearly abandoned when I moved up here because people like J.L.’s old neighbors left houses to rot. All we have done is help save old homes from the bulldozers.Stop laying this b.s. gentrification guilt trip on us.

Chris 05/02/2019 at 9:20 AM

We don’t know our neighbors because of the single and two parent family home. Even when with my daughter’s father after work, then softball practice we did not arrive home until 8pm. During the 50s and 60s the two parent working home was not the norm nor was the 60 plus hour corporate work week. Part of gentrification comes from a different generation looking for an affordable neighborhood and wanting to live outside the suburbs. It is not a white or black issue but a larger societal shift.

Derk P 05/02/2019 at 9:26 AM

I’m glad this is happening. Hopefully it will push some of the violence outside of areas where people know how to act right.

Juliette M Dixon 05/02/2019 at 12:52 PM

Mrs. Roots is a wonderful person and has worked in the Civic Association for years. The gentleman that calls people trash needs to look into the history of this country and what gentrification really is. Also read about the systemic problems created that caused these communities to fail so you can snatch up blighted property at 0 cost and make a killing. I would love to have a workshop about it. Ignorance is Bliss!

Alison Jackson 05/02/2019 at 1:00 PM

Church Hill has the ability to be a great area, the houses are really nice around there and all it needs is community to come together…black, white, pink, brown, yellow, this shouldn’t be a race thing. Areas grow when people gain a sense if pride and community awareness and cooperation. We can move mountains as one people but it is harder when different groups don’t work together. Personally, I like the area…it can be rough but it also brings some of the nicest, most polite people I have met here in Richmond. I would love to see the area grow to it’s full potential.

Boyd Moore 05/02/2019 at 2:15 PM

I am mostly deaf and depend on captions – the only captions that I can find on this video are in Korean, and not is not much help to me. 🙂 I wrote WCVE making the English addition also. Thanks.

O. 05/02/2019 at 2:46 PM

I was always told that the person entering the room speaks first. OMG did the new neighbors introduce themselves?

Naim 05/02/2019 at 3:49 PM

Everybody just take a breath…It is just a natural progression. People come. People go. Demographics are fluid.

Mark 05/02/2019 at 4:09 PM

Gentrification is just a word used when blacks don’t like whites moving in nearby.. I say keep it up! The more “gentrification” the better. Church Hill is a community to EVERYONE.

G 05/02/2019 at 6:52 PM

@ O.
I would say it’s usually the people who live there who welcome the new people – think old fashioned welcome baskets? I am usually the first both ways, so don’t know what that says about me! As soon as I see new humans near me in the next yard or whatever, I’m for sure going over there and saying hi.

Mary Anne 05/02/2019 at 8:16 PM

Some of the people commenting here make me ill. Mary T. is fantastic! Yes, this neighborhood is definitely gentrified & I miss my old neighbors who were pushed out as housing costs increased and landlords sold their run down rentals to investors who renovated them and made them single family homes again. I am technically a gentrifier, and it makes me sick to think that maybe the previous tenants of my home we’re pushed out when I bought my house 15 years ago. The neighborhood does look better than it did when I moved here but all of my fantastic neighbors who came a completely different world than my suburban upbringing are all gone and it’s been a huge loss. I’m seeing less and less cultural and socioeconomic diversity in Church Hill. Young professionals have taken their place. It’s very homogenous. Like the suburbs.

Mary Anne 05/02/2019 at 8:17 PM

Even CHPN has changed. Drastically.

Jacob C. 05/02/2019 at 11:29 PM

CHPN is a very personal endeavor. It’s volunteering LOTS of time to try and keep people informed. It makes sense that it’s different. John M is gone and has been replaced by 3 new people that all have full-time jobs. At the very least I hope people appreciate the effort we go to, for no money, to try and keep the site going. Also, if you ever want to pitch in and contribute let us know! We’re always looking for people to help out.

Sharalyn Bailey 05/02/2019 at 10:41 PM

Gentrification is not white people moving into ethnic neighborhoods. It is white people moving into ethnic neighborhoods and changing the neighborhood to suit them. For example, North side has been gentrified also. Now I hear some of my new white neighbors complaining about suspicious Black people in the neighborhood….which is predominantly Black. They want to know if they should call the police when they see one of us. We all know how that is likely to end. Another example is a 20+ year African festival that takes place in Jackson Ward. One older, new, white resident came storming over to the organizers threatening to call the police. This was 3 in the afternoon. Gentrification is white people moving into Harlem, a famously ethnic neighborhood and wanting to re-name so it doesn’t sound so ethnic. Move anywhere you want, just respect the culture of the neighborhood. And stop characterizing the inhabitants as non-human because their life circumstances are different than yours. People who have no hope tend to act out. Give them hope and help heal the neighborhood.If you have no compassion for them, go somewhere else!

Jonett 05/03/2019 at 11:22 AM

Yeah we liked it better when there was constant broad daylight shootings and nighttime slaughters. Church Hill was one of the worst neighborhoods in the entire country at one point. Y’all complain that the violence is out of hand and that something needs to be done. Well something is being done, so stop making yourself a victim and be an adult about it.

Eric Huffstutler 05/28/2019 at 8:47 AM

Church Hill still has an albatross around its neck. Not long ago, someone was wanting to move from DC to Richmond and looking for a house to buy. I suggested Church Hill and others around us shouted in protest like it was the worst place in Richmond to move to. That stigma of being a slum full of crime is still there. I remember years ago, that even the Times-Dispatch refused to deliver to certain areas and forget food delivery. It has and continues to change but without the exposure putting Church Hill in a positive light, there will always be those who look at us stuck in the 1980s.

Whatever happened to the “Neighborhoods In Bloom” (NIB) project promoting our area to people to move to?


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