Man puts pro-gentrification signs in his front yard

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ)- Gentrification has been an issue in Lexington for years.

Gentrification means renovating and improving an area to conform to middle-class taste.

Some say it helps revitalize dying neighborhoods.

Others say it alienates and displaces people already living in those areas.

This weekend one man decided to make his opinion known by putting signs in his front yard saying he welcomes it.

Thomas Tolliver is known around his neighborhood for putting up signs

“I have a front yard where thousands of cars pass every day. So I use my front yard as a billboard,” said Tolliver.

But this time his message is getting some backlash.

“Honestly I was shocked. I’ve never seen pro-gentrification signs before,” said Uriah Carter of Lexington.

In preparation for a community forum this week, Tolliver put two large signs in his yard saying he welcomes gentrification to the East End.

“So many people I fear see gentrification as all negative and I think there is a lot of positive to gentrification. It revitalizes a neighborhood. It brings economic development to a neighborhood,” said Tolliver.

But with that neighbors say gentrification also brings the possibility of kicking out people.

“It’s going to force them out because one reason we know that when gentrification comes in the tax bracket goes up,” said keith Barbour who owns property in the East End.

“But I don’t think we can let that stop our neighborhood. We can’t stop our neighborhood from growing because some people might be adversely affected,” said Tolliver.

Still some people are worried the improvement Tolliver wants will wash away everything people in this neighborhood cherish.

“You know these are people histories. It is part of their community, part of their culture and in a sense you’re erasing that and adding a sense of uniformity that is not necessarily needed,” said Carter.

But to his critics, Tolliver has just one thing to say.

“Get off your butts and make your own signs, paint your own banners and put them in the front yard if you don’t like my signs. That’s what I told my sister and that’s what I would tell my neighbors,” said Toliver.

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