Community and the Built Environment: The Physical and Social Consequences of Gentrification in Charlotte’s Lockwood
This project examined the interactions between community relationships and physical space in Charlotte’s Lockwood neighborhood. Property values in Lockwood are growing at one of the fastest rates in the country and show no signs of stopping. This growth made Lockwood a fitting place to investigate gentrification, an increasingly important issue in Charlotte and beyond. Previous researchers recorded oral histories from Lockwood’s residents during this period of property value increase. Qualitatively coding these oral histories revealed a significant theme: residents consistently mentioned a decline in the neighborhood’s sense of community. Additional interviews and archival research indicated dramatic changes to Lockwood’s built environment. Many of Lockwood’s historic homes have been replaced by new, larger houses with far less emphasis on community building spaces like front porches and backyards. In response, local non-profit Community Dream Builders creatively used Lockwood’s physical space to bring residents together and encourage sustainable growth. The residents’ comments about community interactions were examined through the context of these documented physical changes. Research showed that Lockwood residents rely on informal community building spaces like front porches and backyards to form connections with one another. The loss or obstruction of these crucial spaces was at least an indicator and perhaps an accelerator of social change in the neighborhood. As property values continue to rise, the remaining community spaces in Lockwood should be preserved and expanded.
Keywords: Lockwood, gentrification, community, built environment, oral history