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Atlanta gentrification struggle may feel new, but it's not

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Decade-old article shows that as much as things have changed in Atlanta, much stays the same

A townhouse in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward neighborhood.
A refurbished duplex in Old Fourth Ward near Boulevard—one manifestation of the popularity of the neighborhood.
Keller Williams Intown Atlanta

Over the last year, issues of gentrification and affordability have been major news.

With homes in neighborhoods like Grant Park and Old Fourth Ward commanding hundreds of thousands of dollars more than they used to, the concern of pricing out longtime residents isn't unreal.

It also isn't new.

More than a decade ago, when the Beltline vision was in its infancy, Creative Loafing ran a piece examining concerns rising from growing intown popularity.

The title was “The gentry are coming.” Below that, the subhead read: “What's not to like about better schools, lower crime rates and improved city services? A lot if you can no longer afford to live here.”

Sound familiar?

In pre-recession Atlanta, residents' median incomes were skyrocketing. So too were home prices—a not too unfamiliar situation. And this was 2006.

The article outlined how the 1990s saw tides changing; as people moved back into the city, demolition of many public housing projects occurred, displacing some of Atlanta's poorest residents.

This rehabbed, two-bedroom West End bungalow listed for $375,000 last summer.
RE/MAX; Doug Sturgess Photography

New development in the years that followed didn't require affordable housing components—a trend that is slowly changing more than a decade later.

Despite the economic turmoil that soon followed the article, the questions and concerns brought up in 2006 echo today in almost uncanny ways.

Popularity of intown living is still on the rise, and home prices are now reaching pre-recession heights, according to an AJC report this week.

Is it fair to say Atlanta has been too slow to learn from the information that was available a decade ago? Are the current initiatives moving in the right direction, or will the article still be applicable in 2027?