Urban green grabbing: Residential real estate developers discourse and practice in gentrifying Global North neighborhoods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

In the movement towards building greener and more sustainable cities, real estate developers are increasingly embracing not only green building construction but broader strategies and action related to urban greening. To date, their motivations and role in this broader urban greening dynamic remains underexplored, yet essential to dissect how greening is sustained and real estate development legitimized in revitalizing neighborhoods. With an eye to better understand green urban capitalist development processes underway amidst financialized nature and urban growth, and the equity impacts they entail, we explore residential real estate developers urban greening discourses and practices. Through a novel dataset of 42 interviews with private and non-profit residential real estate developers in 15 mid-sized American, Western European and Canadian cities, we uncover three differentiated but interconnected discourses around (i) financial benefits, (ii) consumer- or investor-driven demand and (iii) social dimensions behind developers’ interest in urban greening. We argue that developers embark on urban green grabbing through “green” discursive and material value appropriation and rent extraction strategies. Urban green grabbing is conceptually useful in depicting who benefits and how/when developers extract additional rent, surplus value, social capital and/or prestige from locating new residential projects adjacent to new or up-and-coming green amenities. Our work contributes to debates about urban greening's perceived position as a value-producing and rent-extracting good from both a political economy and political ecology perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalGeoforum (Print)
Volume128
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

Keywords

  • Gentrification
  • Green grabbing
  • Real estate developers
  • Rent extraction
  • Urban greening
  • Value

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