Gentrification is a process of change that includes economic change in a historically disinvested neighborhood by means of real estate investment and new higher income residents moving in.
This definition applies to what a local developer is trying to make happen on Gibbons Street in North Rome. A neighborhood in a historically Black disinvested area of Rome, Georgia. A Black neighborhood in Five Points that was dismantled in the ’60s by urban renewal. Establishments were destroyed with no plans of being replaced. A total wipe out of Black culture. Now comes a White developer who had already made plans (with no input from residents in this community) to build a 36 unit apartment complex with monthly rent starting at $1,300.
I was surprised to read the headline in the newspaper: “Tension on housing panel after vote.” It should have simply read: “Rome City Commission denies zoning request.” Instead the article brought to light other issues that the city housing committee must deal with.
It stated that two members of the committee had threatened to resign if (to make it simple) Commissioner Wendy Davis did not rubber stamp their decisions. This makes little sense unless their only interest was pleasing the developers. Chairman Davis voted her conscience. Of course Mayor Craig McDaniel said he had no intention of replacing Davis. After all, he appointed her.
Our city commission should be concerned about gentrification in our city and not destroy or invade any further a historical neighborhood like the Five Points area.
I think our city housing committee should try and encourage this developer to still build his apartment complex in North Rome but take it to North Broad Street, which is in dire need of new development.
Larry G. Morrow Sr.