Historic preservationists and urban planners are involved in revitalizing and redeveloping
downtown historic districts. As these districts become more desirable to residents, tourists,
business owners and office workers, rents usually rise to reflect the increased demand. At times,
rents rise rapidly, and existing tenants are involuntarily displaced and replaced with higherincome
tenants. Scholars have called this process of change commercial gentrification.
Preservationists and planners should understand the causes and consequences of this process, as
well as how to identify the phenomenon. They should also be aware of arguments for and
against public intervention in the private real estate market when gentrification is identified.
Finally, these professionals should develop a working knowledge of the tools available to tackle
the issue of commercial gentrification and promote more equitable development in their
communities. This paper explores commercial gentrification’s causes and consequences,
arguments for and against intervention, and strategies for promoting equitable development. A
case study using the example of Downtown Frederick, Maryland will illustrate how planners and
preservationists can assess whether the commercial gentrification process is occurring in their