So lemme tell ya a little tale about Pioneer Square.
I first started mixing there in 1995. There was a lady I'd see walking in (talking 2, 3pm) who would say "want some crack?" If you said no she'd say "got any crack?" If you again said no she'd say "want a date?" Persistent, she was. Toothless also. And not at all out of character. There were people who lived in Pioneer Square. There were also people who had addresses who lived in Pioneer Square. My friend Gary had an artist's loft in Pioneer Square. He was one of eighteen people in an un-remodeled sweatshop with thrown-up gypboard dividers sharing a bathroom without a shower for $150 a month.
And then "artist's lofts" became a thing. The owners of Gary's building determined that they could make a great deal more than $2500 a month if they kicked out all the artists, put up real walls (and bathrooms) and charged four tenants $2000 a month for that nice, bohemian living.
Now there are people with jobs living in Pioneer Square. And while the Colorbox had been paying its rent on time for ten years, Washington Mutual offered more because suddenly there were banking customers. And now that there's banking customers, there's a Starbucks. And since the brave folx paying $2000 a month made it safe for the other yuppies, a whole bunch of buildings started tearing themselves up and putting in parking and suddenly you can buy "converted lofts" for $300k.
Suddenly it's a neighborhood and that means noise ordinances. After all, Pioneer Square Joint Cover is an attractive nuisance; there was that stabbing that one year back that nobody remembers. So let's shut the clubs down at midnight, shall we?
And before too long, the thriving culture that brought those brave "artists" has completely displaced the artists. You've been gentrified.
It is, in fact, a domino effect: someone classes the joint up without defending the things that made it hip. Eventually all that's left are piano bars and Crate & Barrel. But note that none of the steps listed above involved building 90-floor condo buildings offering dwellings for $7m a pop.
Gentrification happens when people who are more comfortable wish to live amongst people who are less comfortable. Their money, left untended, drags the general atmosphere up to their level. Gentrification isn't necessarily a bad thing always - few would prefer the entrepreneurial crack whore to a Washington Mutual. However, gentrification for its own sake will kill culture through gradual climate change.
A 90 story skyscraper isn't gradual. That right there is an Extinction Level Event, a Chixulub-grade Neighborhood Ender if ever there was one. Thing of it is, nobody's building that shit in Pioneer Square because the kind of people who live in $7m apartments don't want entrepreneurial crack whores within three zip codes of their parking spot. How far do you have to get from 4th and Park in midtown Manhattan before you find a "bad neighborhood?" More than that, how many people do you think are trying to decide between the $7m fuck-you condo in the sky or the $1m converted warehouse in Bed-Stuy?
That's my point. If we're talking about massive skyscrapers full of rich people, shit been gentrified, and it been gentrified to the mufukkin horizon.