One Response to Gentrification: Banning Bay Windows and Balconies

Neighborhoods in Philadelphia are undergoing rapid, unprecedented change. Proposed legislation would ban the architectural signifiers of that change.
May 31, 2019, 7am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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It only takes a few seconds of a Google Streeview tour to find examples of the kind of developments targeted by proposed legislation in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson leads a quickly gentrifying corner of the city, South Philadelphia, and after recently concluding a smooth reelection campaign, the councilmember is proposing legislation to regulate construction in the district.

As reported by Caitlin McCabe, Councilmember Johnson's proposed actions include a ban balconies and bay windows: "The two architectural features would still be allowed outside of those two neighborhoods, but according to the bill, the distance from which they can project from a building would continue to be regulated."

McCabe provides context and describes the significance of these architectural features in the political debate around gentrification and a changing city:

Johnson’s legislation comes amid unprecedented change in his district, which stretches from the fast-gentrifying neighborhoods of Graduate Hospital and Point Breeze, to areas farther south and west, including the Navy Yard and Eastwick. Thousands of new rowhouses have been built, adding taller and showier structures to older and modest rowhouse blocks. The boxy, bump-out bay windows that Johnson aims to legislate have become a well-known architectural feature of Philadelphia’s construction boom, just as aluminum siding and roof decks have.

Neighborhood advocates see these architectural features as signifiers of gentrification and displacement. Others worry that such protrusions from building facades will destroy the character of existing neighborhoods. The political intrigue surrounding development in South Philadelphia and the controversies of Councilmember Johnson's time in office are thoroughly detailed in the article.

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