Inner-Ring Suburban Retrofit and Neighborhood Change in the Post-Suburban Era

Authored by: Suzanne Lanyi Charles , Richard B. Peiser

The New Companion to Urban Design

Print publication date:  May  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138302129
eBook ISBN: 9780203731932
Adobe ISBN:


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Inner-ring suburbs face increasing fiscal stress in the post-suburban era. Suburban retrofits – the redevelopment of defunct suburban shopping malls, strip retail centers, and parking lots into pedestrian-oriented mixed-use neighborhoods – are often seen as a means of counteracting the forces of decline. In this chapter we investigate the potential socio-economic consequences of suburban retrofit redevelopments within the context of contemporary new-build gentrification. Using the Belmar redevelopment in Lakewood, Colorado, a well-publicized project that has been lauded as a model of a highly successful suburban retrofit, we probe the physical, social, and economic changes that accompanied it. Although the Belmar redevelopment has many of the hallmarks of new-build gentrification, we find that its effect on the surrounding residential neighborhoods has so far been benign. We caution, however, that if middle-class households similar to those that originally populated the area are increasingly outbid for housing by households similar in affluence to the residents of Belmar, gentrification-based exclusionary displacement may eventually result in significant socioeconomic change in Lakewood.

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