Historic City Centres and Commercial Gentrification


  • Dilek Özdemir Darby
  • İrem Selçuk


Pedestrianisation, Historic Town Centres, Regeneration, Commercial Gentrification, Retailing


Regenerating the historic centres of cities has long been an important and widely used intervention for local authorities to fight urban decay and obsolescence. It also has helped administrations to increase their competitive power in attracting new businesses, increasing visitors’ footfall, and to promote rising property values. To plan for regeneration it is vital to adopt an area-based approach which requires a joint organizational management perspective to deal with social, economic, spatial and environmental issues under a single umbrella. Otherwise, various unexpected consequences might arise. To illustrate this, physical improvements in such areas usually end up with increased property values which are both enjoyed and/or endured by the stakeholders, including local residents, tradesmen and others. Therefore, any intervention with reference to the regeneration and rehabilitation of historic city centres should be monitored by the planning departments of the municipalities to deal with the possibility of unexpected consequences.

Pedestrianization is one of these intervention tools used to regenerate historic city centres, providing benefits in such areas as health, environment, transportation and accessibility, and also economic and social prospects. Pedestrianization is also one of the most important contributors to the expansion of retail activities, since it increases visitors’ footfall. Increased retail activities in pedestrianized streets and historic areas drive sales and property prices upwards. Therefore, it is largely welcomed by the local authorities. On the other hand, pedestrianization might produce an unintentional commercial gentrification. Therefore, it is wise to note that feedback mechanisms should be established in the earlier phases of the regeneration plans formulated by municipalities.

In this respect, the regeneration of the historic centre of the Istanbul’s Kadıköy district, which started in 2004 and still continues, is worth-noting. In the context of our research, in 2014, 400 surveys were conducted with visitors and shopkeepers and a land-use analysis was completed to identify the changes which had occurred in the past ten years. Then, in 2018, a new land-use analysis was carried out to track the changes from 2014 to 2018. Moreover, face-to-face interviews with city council members and the head of trade associations were made in 2018 and 2019. In our case study, the most important achievement of the regeneration scheme was the pedestrianization of the area, the success of which promoted an unintended commercial gentrification which turned into an impasse between local tradesmen, property owners and the municipality. In this paper, the reasons behind this commercial gentrification will be discussed, together with proposed solutions to any problems which might arise, using examples from various developments in other countries.


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How to Cite

Özdemir Darby, D. ., & Selçuk, İrem. (2020). Historic City Centres and Commercial Gentrification. ICONARCH International Congress of Architecture and Planning, (Iconarch -IV Proceeding Book), 371–383. Retrieved from https://iconarch.ktun.edu.tr/index.php/iconarch/article/view/258



SESSION 3B Theme: Conservation and Regeneration