Thursday, October 02, 2014

"Eventually we're going to run out of rich people to buy all the new luxury condos, right?"

Urban policy in Nashville is much like it is in New Orleans.  Build a bunch of nice stuff for rich people.  
NASHVILLE — To bolster his argument that the cavernous and almost-famous music room known as RCA Studio A should be spared from the wrecking ball, Mike Kopp, an artist manager, dropped a needle onto an LP, playing one of the thousands of songs recorded here over the last half-century.

It was Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” and on a recent morning it filled the empty studio with the same minor-key pathos and galloping urgency that it must have exuded back when Ms. Parton sang it here in 1973.

Today, booming Nashville is trying to decide whether the tone is appropriate for the crusade that Mr. Kopp and others are waging to save Studio A, a recording room that is steeped in music history and that is scheduled for demolition to make way for a luxury condominium project.

And then watch everyone else have to squirm away.

Nashville's median household income approaches $46,000. Using the classic 30 percent rule, that's $1,200 set aside for rent. That, as we've seen, is tough to find. A median family income of $56,000 puts the ideal rent at $1,400, which is more or less where Sylvan Heights is today — with its host of two-bed-one-bath, six-decades-old houses. But if the pattern holds, things will be higher there soon.
"Eventually we're going to run out of rich people to buy all the new luxury condos, right?"

Cunningham asks wryly. "Nashville was appealing because of its relative cost of living, and attracted lots of transplants from other 'desirable' cities because they could live an urban life without being priced out. Once that goes away, so will likely go It City status."

People are moving back to the city, and that's good. A vibrant, bustling urban center has benefits both tangible and aesthetic. But high demand can homogenize a city into a glistening walled palace only for the wealthy, forcing workers to chase inexpensive living far from the benefits they helped make possible. If prices continue to rise, without a proportional raise in income or affordable housing, Nashville may learn there are more desirable things to be than It.
New Orleans and Nashville aren't the only "It Cities" out there.  Your city really doesn't have to be all that "It" to experience this.  Basically what's happened in a 2-act play.

1) Affluent whites in the 20th Century: "This city is full of degenerates. Let's go build sprawling suburbs"

2) Children of those affluent whites: "These sprawling suburbs suck. Let's go kick the degenerates out of the city and make them live here."

Me, I'm staying until they come boot me out.  My original fallback was to go live under the Calliope overpass. But Latoya Cantrell won't even let me do that now.

The Mission seems nice.

1 comment:

Gordon Ferguson said...

I am not one mind with you. Condos are getting more and more affordable every year. Me for example, I am by far not rich, but I live in the Edgewater condos in Miami on Biscayne Bay (link for the interested: http://ionmiamicondos.com/), just because prices are dropping anually. It's not impossible, it just looks that way.