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Austin is the 10th ‘fastest-gentrifying’ city in the nation, says new report

No. 1 is kind of a head-scratcher, though

street with small commercial buildings/shops, looking toward taller buildings downtown
Part of East Austin, looking west
Wikimedia Commons

A new study that ranks the “fastest-gentrifying” cities in the nation has put Austin in the number 10 spot.

Conducted by, the analysis examined home price data and census information to determine the cities experiencing rapid gentrification—which is loosely defined as the phenomenon of people wealthier (some would also include “whiter”) than its traditional residents moving into a neighborhood, thereby increasing the property values and cost of living in the area and eventually pricing out less-wealthy residents.

It should come as no surprise that the study focuses on the rapid transition and displacement that has happened in East Austin over the past few years; the analysis sets the tipping point at the year 2000.

As most Austinites know, the part of town east of IH-35 was officially designated as an area for African-American and Latino residents in the segregated 1920s. Both groups created vital, though largely separate, communities that thrived for decades.

As in many cities, desegregation didn’t mean the then unofficial “nonwhite” parts of town got equal services or economic stimulus, of course. That, combined with the fact that new generations who could afford it often moved to the suburbs, left some parts of East Austin a shell of what they once were.

According to Realtor, the wave of development that swept through Austin in the early 2000s eventually led to people from “outside the community” following cheap rents and sale prices across the freeway from downtown. They were inevitably followed by new development itself, and, in classic fashion, prices and other changes displaced and alienated the traditional residents while “rebuilding a fancier, more congested version of itself.”

In 2006, the reported noted, a local nonprofit had about 250 people on a waiting list for affordable housing, but that number had risen to 700 by 2015. It puts our “gentrification potential achieved” (more about that below) at 22.2% and reports that median home price increased 96.1% between 2000 and 2015: from $152,600 to $299,300.

Here’s how Realtor describes summarized the study’s methodology

We looked at cities whose population was 50,000 or more between 2000 and 2015. Then we took a look at the U.S. Census Tracts—that’s data-speak for neighborhoods of 1,200 to 8,000 people. We focused on lower-income areas with home values that had the potential for gentrification (excluding wealthier communities that had already arrived.) Then we compared home values as well as residents’ income and education levels in the years from 2000 to 2015, to assess which cities were seeing the biggest turnaround.

Topping the list is Charleston, S.C., followed in the top 5 by Asheville, N.C.; Washington, D.C.; Portland, Ore.; and Denver, Colo., round out the top five. The remainder of the top 10 also shouldn’t be too surprising: Nashville, Tenn.; Sacramento, Calif.; Jersey City, N.J.; Long Beach, Calif.; and, finally, the fair burg of Austin, Texas.

The U.S. Cities That Are Gentrifying the Fastest—You’ll Never Guess No. 1 [Realtor]