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Gated cities in our future?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis June 18, 2013 07:23 AM

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Downtown Boston has become a playground for the rich, dominated by luxury condo towers with multimillion-dollar units.

The median price for a luxury condo in neighborhoods like the Back Bay, South End and Beacon Hill hit $1.4 million during the first three months of the year.

That's a phenomenal 22.7 percent increase over 2012, according to LINK numbers cited in this Globe piece.

Well it's all part of a global phenomenon that threatens to turn the world's top cities into "gated citadels," British author Simon Kuper warns in the Financial Times.

Global cities are turning into vast gated communities where the one per cent reproduces itself. Elite members don't live there for their jobs. They work virtually anyway. Rather, global cities are where they network with each other, and put their kids through their country's best schools.

Earlier waves of gentrification pushed the poor and working class out of the downtowns of the globe's most coveted metropolises. Now it's the middle and upper middle class that are getting the boot, Kuper argues.

That was gentrification. Now comes plutocratisation: the middle classes and small companies are falling victim to class-cleansing. Global cities are becoming patrician ghettos. In 2009, says (Columbia University's) Sassen, the top 1 per cent of New York City's earners got 44 per cent of the compensation paid to its workers. The "super-prime housing market" keeps rising even when the national economy collapses. After Manhattan, New York's upper-middle classes are being priced out of Brooklyn. Sassen diagnoses "gradual destruction."

Thanks to blackwater, a regular in the comments section of this blog, for the link.

Of course, if it was all just happening in downtown Boston or Manhattan it might be easier to write off. Sure it would be nice living in the Back Bay, but I am hardly heartbroken that I can't afford to live there and realistically never will.

Yet the same trend is happening in some of our toniest suburbs as well, which, if not gated communities, now require entry frees, as measured in median home prices, of $800,000 to more than $1 million.

What's your take? Are you worried you could wind up on the wrong side of the latest gentrification trend?

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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