How to gentrify a neighborhood: Pick yo hoodOkay maybe 1st in a series, or last.
How to gentrify your neighborhood, small suggestions on making the sketchy part of town a suitable environment for twitchy suburban types.
Pick Your Hood
You just can't randomly pick any part of town. No you need to do research. Asking people on real estate and other on-line boards do not count much as research. Driving through at 30+ mph doesn't count for much either. No this research must be hands on.
First you must hit the books. Wander over to the library of the city you plan to be in. If the city is big enough and old enough there may have been studies of previous attempts of urban development, or demographic changes, or other things that may hint of possible failure or success of new development.
Somewhere in the DC library system there is a book about gentrification of Capitol Hill and why it came to a sudden halt in certain sections. One of the reasons was natural barriers. I don't know how natural a freeway is, but it is a barrier. Same thing with large public housing complexes, they can cut off gentrification to certain spots if there is a barrier that keeps gentrification from going around the complex. When looking at a neighborhood, look for barriers.
Another aspect of finding an up and coming neighborhood is it's proximity to a desirable neighborhood. Shaw is next door to Dupont Circle. When Dupont just got too expensive people moved east into Shaw. Almost same thing for Capitol Hill, except that the definition of Capitol Hill just kept moving east. Adams Morgan hadn't finished getting gentrified before the trend started going northeast into Columbia Heights. The good things of neighborhood A may migrate over to neighborhood B.
Then the neighborhood itself should have something to offer. Proximity to a "better" neighborhood is one, links to transportation is another. If there is a metro station, easy access to major transportation routes, that is a plus. A movie theater might be another plus, or a decent sized grocery store. There should be something there to make residents happy regardless of what happens or doesn't happen in the future.
Next walk around the neighborhood. What signs are there that gentrification may occur? Better go to the edges for this. If there are no signs of any migration from neighborhood A to B, then don't bother. Signs can be a house in B 1 block away from the border, that looks like it belongs in A. Some signs are subtle, too subtle to be seen from a car.
Now back to the realestate or other discussion boards. Keep in mind that many participants live in the boonies. For them the city is a wasteland of sin and crime and they would never let their daughters visit there, much less visit. Try to get the opinion of a city dweller, even if they live in the established parts of town. They may know people who moved to where you're looking.
Gentrification does not spring on its own. There are several factors and you must be aware of them. The environment around the neighborhood in question is one. Maybe later I'll write about the others. Also, keep in mind these are just my opinions and observations.