Added Dora, "We are trying to open another business elsewhere. ... So in case this one closes, we have the other one."
Despite robust debate on city transformations, urban planners insist redevelopment is inevitable. Harriet Tregoning, director of Washington's Office of Planning, said the "story of cities is in constant change, not just U.S. cities, but cities around the globe."
For Tregoning, redevelopment is a healthy response to communities that struggle with crime, falling property values, lost wealth, dwindling job opportunities and heightened health problems.
But while cities strive to create communities that are diverse or affordable, Kathryn B. Yatrakis, an urban studies professor at Columbia College in New York, warns that such terms are subjective: "What 'affordable' is to you might not be affordable to someone else."
Governments, policy institutes and community leaders all play roles in shaping cities, she said, but in the absence of strong leadership, the sheer force of the real estate market will define affordability, diversity and character, Yatrakis said.
It's the argument over these terms that often creates animosity between long-time residents and newcomers, but lost in these debates are those who seek to build bridges.
Both sides of coin
Kelly Anderson, a white professor at Hunter College in New York, moved from New Hampshire to Brooklyn in the late 1980s. She considers herself both gentrifier and gentrified. She first settled in Park Slope, a community transitioning from its historically Puerto Rican, African-American and Italian roots.
Over the past two decades, Anderson has been priced out of Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Park Slope and Fort Greene.
Newcomers should be cognizant of their impact in their communities, she said, and work with the locals to protect neighborhood "stability" rather than "celebrate that rise of real estate values because you made some money out of good investment."
"People move to a place because there's a certain amount of diversity and you want your children to grow around different kinds of people," Anderson said. "The very thing that attracts people to a place like Brooklyn, ends up displacing all those people of color."