If real estate prices in your area seem a little sharp right now, maybe it has something to do with actual spice.
I’m not talking saxa salt or Chef Brown Sauce here, but if you can get a jar of something called White Mausu or Harry’s Nut Butter without having to take a drive, you can probably assume your neighborhood has just gotten more attractive is stakes.
While a plethora of dumpsters, construction sites, shiny 4x4s, traffic jams and high-end baby strollers may have been the hallmarks of a neighborhood in the throes of gentrification, how residents are meant to eat it is becoming the very signifier of urban regeneration in action.
About a decade and a half ago I moved to an area on the outskirts of north central Dublin that was considered ‘up and coming’ at a time when the term was a euphemism for ‘socially troubled’.
The only thing tasty about our street, according to our naysayer friends, were some of the naughtier characters you might encounter on your way home at night.
We’ve since settled there and started a family, and despite what people said at the time, we found it to be one of the warmest, friendliest, most community-oriented places you could imagine living, the kind of place at someone to pay for your bus ticket without blinking when you’re stuck on loose change.
But you wouldn’t have gone there for the food. About the time we moved in there was a chopper down the street, a pub next door and a shop around the corner where you could get paper, milk, butter, sugar and cheap liquor.
If you wanted coffee that wasn’t instant, you had to travel.
The eventual disastrous real estate boom of the first decade of the millennium didn’t do much to stop gentrification, but a few years after the crash, as the market began to recover, interest began to pick up again as young couples sought to shop in places that were were a little affordable.
Around the same time, a wood-fired pizza restaurant replaced the chopper down the street, and a trendy coffee shop opened a few doors down.
During lockdown, the pizzeria morphed into an Italian deli, stocking bottles of decent Grillo and Pecorino at off-license prices, and about a year ago the cafe started stocking the aforementioned White Mausu and Harry’s Nut Butter. Kaboom.
These developments were quickly followed by the opening of an artisan bakery specializing in sourdough bread for fiver a loaf, artisanal pastry shop and irrationally eccentric opening hours.
Meanwhile, an independent grocery store with dog parking has opened just a 15-minute walk away, a place where you can get all sorts of exotic condiments, including those already mentioned, as well as fresh fruit and veg and 30-day aged steaks, just like you requested.
It was around this time that prices in the neighborhood began to rise as some couples and families moved to the countryside and cashed in on whatever town capital they had.
If you thought €3.70 for a cup of coffee was bad, try €395,000 for a two bedroom townhouse. My own neighbors on either side sold (was it something I ate?) and they did really well.
There have even been a few instances of flipping, with two houses just a few houses down from me launching for the second time in a year.
Real estate agent Owen Reilly says he’s noticed how the cafe’s appearance in particular has emerged as a sign of ‘up and coming’.
He believes that the unaffordability of rents and rates for independent grocery retailers in the “downtown core” has led to those businesses being drawn to areas where house prices are also traditionally lower. In areas like Ballsbridge, high rents mean you can usually only get the chains like Butler’s or Avoca, while the independents have to look for leases in more ‘affordable’ areas.
Rialto in Dublin 8, he says, is an example of a place where a few years ago you might not have dreamed of opening a trendy cafe, but now it has two excellent ones. Meanwhile, property prices have headed north.
Areas like East Wall and North Strand over Dublin 3 now have cafes serving halloumi baps and cereal bowls alongside craft roasted coffee in areas where the chipper would traditionally have been king. house prices? You know the story.
While this has a delicious benefit, there is of course also a bitter-tasting downside in the disappearance of cheaper traditional snacks like fries and kebabs, along with the arrival of much less palatable affordability levels in the property market, particularly for younger couples and those actually in grew up in these neighborhoods.
In America, food is often seen as avant-garde in the “wars” of urban gentrification, particularly in poorer and often black neighborhoods where food trucks, farmers markets, breweries, restaurants and cafes are gaining a foothold, attracting more and more young, cosmopolitan foodie types, until eventually the bulldozers will arrive in the rear when there is sufficient demand for middle-class housing and rising property values.
The complaint here is that the original locals often can’t afford these new foods, which is particularly ironic as they are often ‘gentrified’ versions of pre-existing local cuisines.
After initially being priced out of their supper, Native Americans are eventually priced out of their own neighborhoods.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/home-truths-the-bittersweet-link-between-fancy-food-outlets-and-soaring-property-prices-41483860.html Home Truths – the bittersweet connection between fancy takeaways and soaring real estate prices