Gentrification study shows urban core strength, Troost dividing line

Areas shaded in blue have median home values above the metro median; the darker the blue the greater the value. The tracts shaded in yellow have median home values below the metro median; the darker the shade of yellow, the lower the value.

While Kansas City is not experiencing the same level of gentrification as some east coast cities, the urban core from Downtown to the Plaza – at least west of Troost – showed a significant increase in home values from 2000 to 2011.

“Things are going pretty slow here in terms of gentrification in comparison to cities like, say, Boston. But we do have a corridor that in general is seeing home values increase,” says MidAmerica Regional Council researcher Jeff Pinkerton. “People who could live anywhere are choosing to live in the urban core.”

Tract Median Home Value as a Percent of MSA Median Home Value 2000

Pinkerton has just published a blog post  on the findings of a study on gentrification in Kansas City.  The study was spurred by a recent Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland report on gentrification and its impact on residents of cities. It concluded that gentrification is a double-edged sword.  While rising home values in an area can force out long-time residents and renters, gentrification generally is beneficial to all residents. For instance, it tends to increase credit scores for everyone who lives in the gentrifying area.

Tract Median Home Value as a Percent of MSA Median Home Value 2011

Pinkerton looked at slightly different data than the Cleveland researchers.

“For the purpose of this analysis, I will say a neighborhood is gentrifying if it is located in the central city of a metropolitan area and it goes from being in the bottom half of the distribution of home prices in the metropolitan area to the top half between 2000 and 2007,” he says.

Pinkerton points to two maps that show the change in median home values in Midtown. The first map shows 2000 values; the second shows 2011. While he admits the time period was a weird one for home values, with the real estate market bubble bursting, he finds the resurgence of Downtown and Midtown housing is evident in the two maps.

“By 2011, the Downtown Loop, River Market and Crossroads areas have median home values above the metro median,” he says.

Home values in Brookside and Waldo tracts were already high or have shown increases since 2000.

But one troubling trend jumps out from the maps.

“One unmistakable and unfortunate trend is that gentrification has not been able to cross the chasm that is Troost Avenue. The increases experienced in the Downtown-Crossroads area and the Brookside-Waldo area come to an abrupt halt when they hit Troost,” Pinkerton wrote.

Pinkerton thinks the value of such a study could be to provide a warning system to track rapid changes in property values that could impact residents.  When values are changing, he says, there are steps policy makers can take to ensure there will continue to be a healthy mix of incomes in all parts of the urban core.


Pinkerton looked at median home values for owner-occupied housing units by census tract in 2000 and in 2011. Specifically, the MARC study took each tract’s median home value and divided it by the metro’s median home value to get a measure of relative home value. In 2000, the metro median home value was $104,700. In 2010, the median value was $159,600. A tract with a median home value greater than the metro median will have a value greater than 100 percent.

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