@principalmakesmemoney The problem with this whole theory is there is one kind of person that *always* prefers profit to the more abstract benefits you describe, and always acts calculatingly to maximize profit: a corporation. And it's large corporations and their capital and efficiencies that motivate the existence of an execrable word like "re-tenanting."
@vanderlyn Not only is it not clear to you, but it's not clear to the people in charge of government! Theoretically, if there were some consensus that economic diversity at the neighborhood level were a social good worth preserving, government wouldn't have to "curate a retail mix," precisely. It would just have to subsidize the rents of small businesses - like a commercial Section 8. And to do the same for residential space, it would have to stop regulating rents (which makes profit-taking hard and incentivizes abandonment or the exploitation of loopholes) and instead subsidize rents better: if Section 8 actually matched market-rate rents, it would arrest gentrification.
"Possible but not probable" is the essence of the American Dream: it's a goal that 100% of people strive for, predicated for each individual on somehow beating out 90% of the people. That's a perfectly laudable individual goal but makes for lousy public policy. It just occurred to me that it's sort of like saying "a rising tide lifts all boats." That's not true at all, because when the tide rises, the whole ocean doesn't get fuller - the tide just ebbs somewhere else.
@Jake Reinhardt @garli I'm trying to say that while some parts of town are predominantly one race and some another, it's not the kind of pervasive segregation that would make a person of color (at least, one who is Black or Hispanic) feel like "the lone dot of color." Since @meatballsub was complaining about being a person of color in a sea of whiteness, I think it makes my comment relevant. Is it good that Blacks and Hispanics are segregated *into* Hartford and largely absent from the surrounding, more affluent suburbs? Not at all. But that is a separate discussion. All I'm saying is that if you're interested in a smaller city as a place to live, Hartford is relatively welcoming for people of color.
@bowtiesarecool I've already sung Hartford's praises, and I have some friends in Troy who really like it. Boston is neither warmer nor cheaper than DC, but it's a hell of a town, and has decent transit. I hear that Denver and Austin are nice, too.
@meatballsub See my response to someone above about Cincinnati. There are lots of old industrial cities that are very diverse - far more so than the U.S. population at large. Boston actually figures on the list of cities in which non-Hispanic Whites make up less than 50% of the population, but it's quite segregated, which is probably what led to your experience. I know you would have to constrain your movements enormously to feel like the lone dot of color almost anywhere in Hartford.
@goldsold Hartford is your city! Not that many White people. Black people and Hispanic people live on opposite sides of town, but the division is not strong (i.e., there are plenty of Black people in my Hispanic neighborhood and plenty of Hispanic people in Black neighborhoods).
When we say retenanting is one of the bad aspects, what we're really saying is that it's one of the bad aspects of capitalism. The real estate agent is right - her clients, the building owners, are in the business of making money, and she is helping them do it in a legal way. It is folly to expect business owners to forego profits in the service of something as inchoate as preserving the character of a neighborhood. If we want actions motivated by something other than profit, our only options are government intervention or some other form of collective action.
@seakelps It is worth noting (as you essentially do) that this is a complaint not about some cities, but about this whole country. New York is, I think, the only major city where less than 50% of the population owns a car.
All of the good wishes and rooting for you, even though you obviously didn't even consider moving to Hartford. Seriously. Constanza always reads all the things you write before getting around to what I write, because you are great.