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  • Writer's pictureZachary Blair

Gentrification in Winter Park: The Local Expansion of Wealth

I have been tracking development in my neighborhood and have previously posted footage of a house being demolished one block over from where I live. At the intersection where this house once stood, two other houses were also demolished and turned into empy lots ready for new homes.

Since my last posting, construction has been underway on all three lots. The home being built on the lot that I recorded has created a stir that made the local news after a six-foot concrete wall was built awkwardly close to a neighbor's carport.

These small scuffles between existing residents, developers, and future neighbors often go unnoticed, but are precisely how struggles of power play out within the context of gentrification. Neoliberal individualism has made private property boundaries the new sites of violence, fragmenting the neighborhood into individual parcels and transforming the borders of personal real estate into sites where privacy, defense, and social values are negotiated.

One of these values is environmental responsibility. Local struggles around saving Winter Park's disappearing tree canopy and green spaces are made noticeable through vocal resistances of residents at public meetings about local development projects or through "No Density" signs that residents have placed in their yards. However, as development continues to privelege high-end residentla construction and maximum land use by building homes from lot-line to lot-line while limiting yard size, profit accumulation continues to be an endeavor that comes at the cost of the environment.

The neighborhood is currently defined by economic inequality made visible through the juxtaposition of new construction with the mid-century bungalows next door that have defined this part of Winter Park for decades; empty dirt lots have replaced modest 900-square-foot homes once nestled amongst an established regional flora; letters from developers in South Florida fill the mailboxes of the small homes left standing, containing undervalued cash offers and a long distance phone number to an automated recording; and empty porches lining streets with a scattering of privileged strangers.

As wealth expands from Winter Park's core, gentrification continues to reshape even Central Florida's richest areas.

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