Journal of Law and Policy


Kyle Campion


The past few decades have brought tremendous change to New York City as gentrification continues its march through many of the city’s neighborhoods. This change has transformed formerly neglected neighborhoods into highly desired locations. While these changes have introduced potential benefits to the transformed areas, they have also put immense economic pressure on important local establishments, such as diners, bars, and other informal gathering spaces that played an important role in their communities before the neighborhoods became “hot.” Increasingly, this pressure has resulted in the shuttering of many such local establishments. Their disappearance represents not only a loss of an irreplaceable piece of organic New York culture, but also a profound and tangible detriment to pre-existing communities that are experiencing the impact of enormous economic and social change in their neighborhoods. Currently, there are no legal mechanisms in place to protect such businesses from being washed away by a tide of money, greed, and shortsightedness. This stands in stark contrast to the protection that is afforded to certain buildings and historic districts in New York which have been preserved through the city’s Landmarks Law. Today, preservation needs to be reimagined not only as a way to ensure the preservation of a neighborhood’s aesthetic heritage, but also as a tool for maintaining the unique qualities and characteristics of a community, both for its own sake and to ensure that the neighborhood’s commercial districts represent the tastes and values of all residents, not just of those with the most disposable income.