Gentrification is generally understood to be a complex phenomenon that occurs in urban neighborhoods characterized by two main features:
1.) Increases in general economic activity, specifically increases in: average income levels, property values, commerical and residential rents.
2.) Demographic and cultural changes including displacement of commerical and residential residents by "high-end" new arrivals.
There is no exact definition of gentrification and it has both proponents and opponents in urban planning, activist, and academic circles. Proponents of gentrification generally cite item 1. above as the motivation for active encouragement of gentrification. Opponents of gentrification generally take the opposite position by putting more emphasis on item 2. above. Whether 1. or 2. is more important and whether they are inextricably linked are matters of heated debate. Understanding this basic dichotomy is essential when approaching the field or urban development.
For more see this excellent article at pbs.org: P.O.V. - Flag Wars . What is Gentrification? | PBS
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