The Challenge


How might we restore vibrancy in cities and regions facing economic decline? read the brief


Bring the artists, students, and gays

Most realtors will tell you that urban renewal (and gentrification) follow a pattern: first come the artists, then the students, then the gays, then the Gap. How can we speed up that process and attract these groups to these ailing cities?

Most realtors will tell you that urban renewal (and gentrification) follow a pattern: first come the artists, then the students, then the gays, then the Gap.

Perhaps we speed up that process and by offering these marginalized groups artist coops and grants, lower rents, and gay-friendly legislation.

Mission #1 Explore Vibrancy


Join the conversation and post a comment.

Jacqueline L. Chavez

November 16, 2011, 04:34AM
In the example of South Beach/Miami Beach: first came the artists, then the gays, then the students, then the Gap.

I witnessed this phenomenon first-hand in the revitalization of South Beach/Miami Beach. Before South Beach was a tourist destination, back in the late 80’s it was a dilapidated part of town infested with drug dealers & crack addicts and littered with run-down hotels that had been converted to senior rest homes, many of which lined the now famous Ocean Drive.

Artists started to arrive to South Beach when one by one the run-down hotels on Ocean Drive started to be converted to boutique hotels. Artists were employed to paint murals and design art-deco style lobbies, lounges & guest rooms. Many of these artists happen to be gay and thus a gay community emerged in South Beach that spurred the opening of new trendy restaurants, bars, night clubs and shops, which then attracted the college crowd and later tourists.

The artists also revitalized the very trendy Lincoln Road Mall in South Beach. In the 80’s it was a deserted old street mall who’s main tenant was a souvenir shop that sold things like; sea shells, key chains & bubble gum. After a lesbian couple opened the very first restaurant there (Van Dyke Café, which also houses a live music lounge) local artists started to rent out these empty store fronts for their art galleries. Even the newly formed Miami City Ballet planted roots there. Eventually these art galleries & associated events attracted foot track to the area, which in turn attracted more restaurants, shops, a movie theater, etc. and yes a Gap store. ;)

Meena Kadri

November 14, 2011, 02:02AM
Reminds me of the notion behind Richard Florida's Creative Class: He's collected a number of case studies on this and has comprehensive thoughts on the subject.


November 29, 2011, 07:13AM
Theres a great bit Colbert does before he interviews Florida about the "Bohemian-Gay Index."
Behind the hilarity of the exchange there is a lot of truth behind it, as other post-ers have attested to. The reason why this "Creative Class" come to a new area is the availability of cheap rent and the extra leeway they tend to get from the authorities (or in other words, a certain laxness in regulation common to underdeveloped areas).

I agree with Maria, certain programs or initiatives geared towards the creative class is a very effective tool to jump start development. But maybe instead of speeding up the process of gentrification, we slow it down? What if we can really encourage the creative class to take root so that when the Gap and Starbucks finally comes, the local fashion designer or cafe owner will still have their clientele.
(btw, I LOVE the photo of the street art!)

Arjan Tupan

November 13, 2011, 15:57PM
Your inspiration reminded me of the movie about Harvey Milk. And from there, the jump was short: I think that an active sub-community, who have a hard time getting what they want (then the gays, maybe now the jobless), can really make a difference. So I think to speed up the process, it's necessary to find the activists and engage them in the action.
Great inspiration.
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