Gentrification changes jersey city


Amy Espin, Staff Reporter

Looking for a sign? You could find one here on West Side Avenue. Back in October, Jersey City put up a sign at University Place Boulevard, that reads, “UNIVERSITY PLACE.” This sign caught the attention of many people because nothing like this has ever been built in our area. This is the latest indication of gentrification close to our school. Gentrification is defined as the process whereby the character of a poor urban area is changed by wealthier people moving in, improving housing, and attracting new businesses, typically displacing current inhabitants in the process.

You might be thinking gentrification already happened in Jersey City. That is true for the Downtown Jersey City area, however it is now creeping up the West Side-Greenville area. Have you noticed? All these luxury apartment buildings, chained businesses, like Five Guys, Carvel and Cuticles. There is even a Starbucks being built on Route 440 between Ege and Bennett Street. These businesses are slowly coming along. 

But in the end, is this hurting or helping our community? UACHS Senior, Alexa Lucius, provides her insight about this. 

“Gentrification in our area is negative because with wealthier people moving in, general prices in businesses would increase,” said Lucius. “The rent will be more because the buildings are new. The prices will be more than what the middle class and lower class can afford.”

All these businesses might be exciting for us, but while it’s attracting us, it is also attracting wealthy newcomers. According to Vogue, new businesses and amenities pop up to cater to these new residents. Minor changes that you do not notice, appear like roads getting reworked and more street cleaning. These changes attract more affluent people, which makes property value go up. This means prices everywhere go up, for example, our rent. UACHS Junior, Patricia Gomes expresses her concern over the upcoming rent prices. 

“Recently rent in Greenville has increased and we have not even noticed. Some ugly apartments cost like $2,000, similar to Downtown Jersey City prices. It is ridiculous,” said Gomes. “People who are living there now can barely keep up with increasing rent.”

 Back in the 90’s, Downtown Jersey City was not like it is now, it was not filled with wealthy people and crazy rent prices. Before gentrification, it was considered “Chilltown” and it was not occupied with many company buildings, uphigh chain businesses, boutiques, and luxury apartment buildings as it is now. It was similar to the Bergen-Lafayette area. UACHS Junior, Gabriel Lauz believes if this continues in our community it will slowly transform into Downtown. 

“If all these modifications continue, they will wipe out small businesses like Sams and even our school if they wanted to,” said Lauz. “It would take a good amount of time to become similar to downtown, but if all these new people keep coming in, it does have that potential.”

Everyone has different opinions whether gentrifying our community is good or not, but if it is kicking people out and putting small businesses out of service, is it really beneficial?