CHARLOTTE: Architect Offices Vandalized Amidst Anti-Gentrification Struggle

By Gabriel Roshan

Gentrifying architecture firm Shook-Kelley’s (SK) windows were tagged with “Terry Shook watch your back” last week.

Shook-Kelley is a self-described “renegade” architecture firm founded in 1992, with offices in Charlotte, North Carolina and Los Angeles, California. Founded by Terry Shook and Kevin Kelley, their philosophy on design is embodied in the slogan “we convene.”

In LA, Shook-Kelley renovated and did brand marketing for the high-end grocery store Gelsons. This grocery store includes kombucha on tap as well as a wine and tapas bar. With locations in Beverly Hills and West LA, these grocery stores are meant to serve a wealthier, whiter clientele in LA.

In Charlotte, Shook-Kelley is one of the firms responsible for the “Historic South End,” a project that has created a space for affluent white people at the expense of oppressed nations and working-class people. Charlotte has a long history of revitalization which has destroyed historically Black neighborhoods like Wilmore, Twin Oaks, Brooklyn and many others.

According to Shook-Kelley’s project outline, “The fact that property values were low helped attract small start-up businesses and unique retailers, but with no assets or revenue to begin with, creating South End was much like building a start-up company. The goal was to appeal to a demographic that craved an urban experience that was unique and eclectic.”

Shook-Kelley clearly states who they serve: the bourgeoisie and petite-bourgeois. The working class craves political power and for an end to displacement. Shook-Kelley’s mission and the working class’s destiny are in stark contradiction.

They have even received a “Settlers” award, presented by Center City Partners, which celebrates the settling of working class neighborhoods and the displacement of families that have created a playground for the rich to settle in.

Affordable housing has been a hot button issue on Charlotte’s city council for some time. Despite expressing concern about the living conditions of working people, their efforts have only amounted to holding countless meaningless seminars and forums.

Materially, city council has done nothing but further support developers on their mission to gentrify and destroy working class neighborhoods. The government proves time and time again that they are the running dogs of capital, collaborating with the bourgeoisie for the sake of profit, contrary to any claims they may make otherwise.

Shook-Kelley represents an arm of the bourgeoisie seeking to destroy working class neighborhoods by growing Southend. The last two strongholds of the proletariat remain in Southside homes and Brookhill.

Revolutionary mass organization Serve the People Charlotte has called for the defense of Brookhill and for an immediate end to all plans for its demolition. Gentrification can only be stopped by hitting the class enemy with all the might of the masses!