Ice House

The Houstonia Step-By-Step Guide to Gentrification

Track your neighborhood’s progress!

By Katharine Shilcutt July 9, 2015 Published in the July 2015 issue of Houstonia Magazine

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Image: Shutterstock

“It’s the Good Housekeeping stamp of approval for a neighborhood,” a Midtown-based real estate attorney told the Chron in May. “You’ve arrived when you have a Whole Foods.”

Which got us thinking: if the arrival of a Whole Foods Market marks the end of a neighborhood’s journey to gentrification, what are some of the other milestones along the way? Herewith, and for the benefit of other neighborhoods who long to be gentrified (or long to avoid it), a timeline:

The first artisanal coffee shop opens (if it doesn’t serve flat whites, it doesn’t count).

Pre-packed boxes of sushi go on sale at a corner gas station.

That beautiful old mansion you’re always driving past—the one you’ve always wished you had the money to buy and fix up—is torn down and replaced by eight stucco townhomes.

Out of nowhere, a farmers market appears to set up shop in an overgrown parking lot.

People begin commissioning work from graffiti artists instead of scrubbing it off the sides of their buildings.

A craft beer bar and/or
wine bar opens.

Two bike racks designed to look like flowers are installed by a neighborhood organization.

A 30-year-old Vietnamese restaurant is torn down to make
way for a mid-rise.

What was once just part of a ward is now its own district, as in “the _______ district” (arts, cultural, museum, university, hammock).

A frozen yogurt shop opens.

High property taxes force an old church to fold, and it is replaced by a non-denominational church with an unconventional name (e.g., Bread & Anchors).

A designated bike lane appears.

Two mattress stores open on opposite corners.

Rows of historic, 100-year-old homes are demolished wholesale to make way for a donut apartment complex whose central pool is shaded 100 percent of the time, rendering it useless.

Plans for a superblock include construction of a community art center, which may or may not pan out.

A dive-y pizza joint is replaced by a dog-friendly bar featuring fried Oreos and fist bumps.

A soul food restaurant with 56 years of history serving oxtails gives way to a faux C&W roadhouse with a rooftop patio and 56 big-screen TVs.

New college grads stumbling from bar to bar increase the presence of Uber cars.

A drive-thru Starbucks opens, causing the aforementioned coffee shop with third wave beans to close.  

The farmers market disappears, because who needs one when there’s a Whole Foods coming?

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