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Starbucks comes by its reputation as the bellwether of gentrification honestly: Its entry into an area really does predict a measurable change in demographics.
When the coffee giant colonizes a neighborhood, home prices tend to jump. The population tends to get more educated. And younger. And whiter.
New research shows that one new Starbucks predicted an extra 0.54 percent rise in local home prices. But the study also found that’s true of all cafes.
Harvard economist Edward Glaeser and his Harvard Business School colleagues Hyunjin Kim (a doctoral candidate) and Michael Luca find it improbable that a coffee chain has direct power over the housing market. Instead, they write, it’s plausible “Starbucks locations are chosen by individuals with very good judgment about where prices are going to increase.”
There’s no chicken-or-egg dilemma here. A new Starbucks strongly predicted a jump in home prices, but rising home prices didn't strongly predict where Starbucks is going to open a new location, according to their analysis, released in a new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research. Starbucks doesn’t follow the gentrifiers, it paves the way for them.
An increase in bars, restaurants and cafes was associated with a more-educated population in all cities. Young people had a particularly strong association with florists, bars and barbers, while a higher concentration of white folks tended to bring a rise in restaurants, wine bars and grocery stores.
If Newtown Township, Upper Makefield and Wrightstown all approve, officials might eliminate the planned residential development option from their joint municipal zoning ordinance. The option lets developers skip past meetings with township advisory boards in exchange for participating in at least one public hearing, where township supervisors can collect testimony about proposed projects.
Developers in three Newtown area municipalities soon might lose an option for presenting project plans directly to the boards of supervisors, without appearing before local advisory boards.
Newtown Township, Upper Makefield and Wrightstown are holding hearings on a proposal to eliminate all mentions of planned residential developments (PRDs) from the joint municipal zoning ordinance they share.
Under the PRD process, developers don’t have to submit plans to a township’s planning commission or zoning hearing board to review. Instead, supervisors alone get to decide whether to grant tentative approval for the plans after holding at least one public hearing, where they can ask members of the development team to testify.
Newtown Township will be the first to hold a hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday (Sept 12, 2018), while Wrightstown and Upper Makefield will follow, at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17 and Tuesday, Sept. 18, respectively. Each town must then approve the proposal within 30 days of the final hearing for it to pass.
Newtown Township Supervisor John Mack said he believes PRDs served more of a purpose in the past, when development plans were sure to have necessary components and studies, such as those pertaining to traffic, and did not need review from advisory boards.
Mack also said the members of the township planning commission and zoning heard board are experts, “much better equipped” to analyze development plans and make recommendations than most supervisors.
“After that process, it’s much easier for the board of supervisors to make a decision, which usually follows the recommendations of the experts,” he said.
…as much as Philadelphians love [Wawa], they don't always love the idea of the store moving into their neighborhood. Especially if the store is what some have coined a "Super Wawa." Often open 24 hours, these stores come with upscale facades, gas pumps with canopies, and expanded parking lots. They have been popping up across the region over the last two decades.
Over the last few years, there have been fierce fights over Wawa plans in Voorhees, Doylestown, Hatboro, Abington, Upper Gwynedd, and Brick, N.J. On Fayette Street in Conshohocken, a battle over a Super Wawa has been going on since 2010.
"In general, it is always [Wawa's] goal to work with local officials, neighbors, and community members to ensure we're meeting their needs and address any concerns of the community, including meeting with residents," said [Lori] Bruce, the Wawa spokeswoman. "Improvements we make when building a new store include landscaping and adding trees to create natural barriers that reduce light and absorb noise."
"As we've grown and added new stores over the years, customer feedback has shown us the need to open stores even closer [as close as 0.6 mile!] to each other in order to provide the level of convenience and experience our customers want," Bruce said.
2018 © John Mack
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