Burque’s Gentrified Downtown: Statistical Mirage?

We looked at evidence of gentrification a few months back, using a map created by the folks at Governing. While in the process of measuring bike lanes (still plenty of lanes left to do, see here for details!), conversation between measurements by riding buddies has covered many topics, including cycling and gentrification.

Gentrification is one of those subjects combining very complex factors and highly passionate arguments. In other words, it’s a toughie from all perspectives, including that of crafting public policy.

Take this look at downtown Albuquerque. Darker blue census tracts, via methodology including median home prices and educational attainment, are considered as gentrified between 2000-2014:


We’ve clicked on the center of downtown census tract (btw, the tract directly north of this one, north of Lomas, has also been found as gentrified) to identify the changes found leading to the ruling of “gentrified.” They are interesting changes. Population has halved, home values more than doubled. Residents with bachelor degrees have almost tripled.

Looking only at stats like this, you’d think this tract belongs in famed gentrification hotspots like the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn or the Castro in San Francisco. But this is the heart of downtown Albuquerque. Do those figures match our understanding and perception of this area, one many of us live or travel within just about every day? Do they match our understanding of gentrification?

Let’s leave those questions rhetorical here, with the exception of contemplating that the AHS Lofts would seem to play a big factor, if those weren’t located just outside the tract, on the east side of Broadway.  There are also the new apartments along Coal within the area, but do they account for such wild swings in data?

From a detached social scientist perspective, I’d love to hear what’s really going on to create these statistics. In part, because my eyes, eyes that ride a bike through this census tract nearly every day, must be deceiving me.

From the standpoint of public policy wonk, what action does the above data engender? From bike lanes to A.R.T. to property tax assessments, what does the data above mean?

Many of us, even those who don’t live downtown, know and are excited by the fact a grocery store is opening in this tract in the next few days. Of course, issues of gentrification make one question whether such a grocery store is really a good thing. It would seem so, and this data would seem to augur its future success, but…

Gentrification is a toughie.



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