(January 2010) Abstract_Yvonne Franz

Abstract_Yvonne Franz image
Gentrification Processes as a Dynamic Driving Force in
Integrated Urban Development Strategies


"Space is Luxury" - a phrase that can be applied perfectly to the topic of my PhD thesis: In times of a renaissance of the city and a rising creative class which gets attracted by vibrant urban environments, the pressure on space and its distribution in inner-city locations is growing. Space for attractive housing, offices, commercial and public use is getting rarer and more expensive, as increasing demand for inner-city locations continues.

Urban attractiveness is undoubtedly related to gentrification which can be identified in various urban neighborhoods. Even if there can be found many similarities, gentrification processes differ depending on their geographical, political and social setting. On the one hand, gentrification in the United States results often in severe urban transformation, social exclusion and displacement of marginalized population. On the other hand, the process seems to be much more market-driven and therefore more dynamic. In Austria, gentrification can be found rather on a small-scale level combined with seemingly sustainable urban development strategies. These differences - based on case studies in New York City and Vienna - are to be elaborated as well as their embeddedness in the institutional framework of local policies, urban planning theories, urban development strategies, as well as public and private investors and local population.

By choosing different neighborhoods which should represent various stages of development in terms of gentrification, a comprehensive understanding of this complex process shall be assured: How can the potential of qualified areas be identified and even measured? What happens with gentrified neighborhoods and how does a sustainable urban development strategy looks like? How should gentrification be designed to support a win-win situation for all involved participants? What kind of institutional setting will be necessary for - maybe different - ideal-typical scenarios?

The answer to these questions is based on the main aim to develop a dual learning process: What are suitable US-American parameters and approaches to help Austrian urban policies establishing more dynamic in its urban development strategies? Vice versa, what should be considered and implemented in US-American gentrification processes to ensure more balanced outcomes for all participants? At the end, a "tool box" for an integrated urban development strategy should be created which can be successfully implemented by different cities, policy makers and investors.

Research Methodology
Basically, a comparative approach is followed in this PhD thesis. By contrasting gentrification processes of neighborhoods in Vienna and New York City and their implementation in urban planning strategies, the essential differences and characteristics will be elaborated. Additionally to a comprehensive literature research, the thesis will provide a balanced mix of quantitative and qualitative methods which includes on the one hand statistical analysis of the specific neighborhoods. On the other hand, these results will be enriched by expert interviews of all participants that are involved in the research topic. Relevant data will be visualized by using cartographic methods.