New Brunswick, the rapid growth of city life from gentrification
Gentrification in New Brunswick, and places like Rutgers, is spurring change and growth in the city's housing, entertainment, medicine, recreation and overall economy.
David Listokin, professor at and director of the Center for Urban Policy Research, said that New Brunswick is gentrifying through redevelopments downtown. Another important factor is the increase in diversity, especially the influx of more Hispanic people to the area, he said.
“In an ideal world, yes (gentrification) is good, but it is hard to do,” Listokin said.
Gentrification is not a clear-cut process, he said. There has to be a conversation over how it will affect a city overall.
Demand for off-campus housing created by the University and its students plays a role in the New Brunswick community. Listokin said that when schools need housing, the price of housing goes up, which can pose a problem for some residents of the city.
Dorothea Berkhout, an associate dean in the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, said that new housing can also play a role in attracting residents to the New Brunswick area.
“The new housing that has been built and is still being built as well as the variety of restaurants … increasingly have attracted new professionals as residents, many of whom may not previously have considered living in New Brunswick,” Berkhout said.
The new-and-improved downtown area has changed New Brunswick’s economic function. In the 1950s, New Brunswick was home to various manufacturing jobs, Listokin said. The new economic functions like Rutgers University, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Johnson & Johnson and the plethora of arts and theaters, have all brought new gains to the city.
Berkhout said that along with revitalizing the entertainment and housing aspect of New Brunswick, action has been taken to ensure attractive and safe recreational spaces for residents. The new Parks and Gardens Commission, for example, is working to improve the city's parks and gardens, she said.
New Brunswick is also a hub for medicine.
With Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and Saint Peter's University Hospital in the heart of the city, professionals have more of an inclination to relocate to New Brunswick, she said.
“It is attractive to the medical professionals working in ever-expanding medical facilities in New Brunswick because of the proximity to work,” Berkhout said.
Berkhout is also a resident of New Brunswick and has personally seen change happen in the city over the years. She said she has worked at Rutgers for 30 years, and in that time saw New Brunswick transform.
“It seems that this goal is being fulfilled, and there continue to be new opportunities for New Brunswick to continue to be a vibrant community,” Berkhout said.