Engineering Gentrification: sustainability infrastructure, urban redevelopment, and the co-production of green stormwater infrastructure and gentrification in Minneapolis

Authors: Rebecca Walker*,
Topics: Urban Geography, Sustainability Science, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: Green gentrification, Resilience planning, Urban geography, Green infrastructure, Climate change, Environmental justice
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Cities increasingly turn to green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) to improve water quality and mitigate flooding risk, particularly in response to climate change, yet unexplored is the potential for GSI to cause ‘green gentrification,’ in which greening increases housing costs, drives gentrification and displacement, and deepens inequalities. Using a spatially explicit mixed-methods approach, I interrogate the relationship between GSI siting decisions, and the risk of gentrification and displacement. Analyzing GSI installed in Minneapolis, MN from 2000-2019, I observe significant differences in the amount of funding for GSI in tracts that met criteria for gentrification relative to those that did not gentrify. Census tracts that transitioned from low-income to gentrified tracts received on average five times more GSI funding than low-income tracts that did not gentrify. Projects enacted in lower income neighborhoods correlate with increases in rent and the college educated population at rates significantly higher than the city average. Interviews with community members engaged in water governance reveal how the intertwined agendas of environmental agencies and city government ultimately incentivize implementing GSI in gentrifying areas. Although presented as win-wins, this analysis extends the concept of green gentrification to GSI, highlighting the need for planning and policies that proactively mitigate gentrification risks.

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