This article can be found in the current issue of the Journal of Urban Affairs regarding Activist Scholarship.
In the past several decades, the suburbs of many U.S. metropolitan regions have seen rising levels of poverty, immigration, and racial and ethnic diversity. At the same time, suburban redevelopment has led to more “urban-like” development patterns and struggles over gentrification and displacement. In a case study of Wheaton, Maryland, this article explores how redevelopment impacted suburban immigrants and small businesses and how they fought back. Using interviews with key stakeholders and secondary documents about Wheaton’s redevelopment, it shows several challenges to advancing equitable development in suburbs, including the capacity of community-based organizations, political representation, and limited government policies and programs. However, grassroots activists and grasstops policymakers have slowly built the capacity of communities to balance the scales of development. As suburbs redevelop, the article offers lessons about the consequences for socially and economically vulnerable groups and the political and community-based structures and support needed to advance equitable outcomes.