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LONDON: Once the epicenter of some of Britain's worst race riots in the 1980s, the London neighborhood of Brixton is now facing a very different battle for its Afro-Caribbean soul: gentrification.A commercial refurbishment by Britain's rail operator of several viaduct arches running through the heart of Brixton has become the focus of people's anger.Network Rail has started to refurbish the units on Atlantic Road and Brixton Station Road, on either side of the railway, with around 20 independent stalls and eateries being boarded up since October.Rents for businesses under the viaduct will more than double by 2022, according to a document published by Network Rail, and the rebel merchants are threatening to bring the case to court.They point to the higher compensation offered to those agreeing to leave permanently as another sign that Network Rail wants to eject the traditional traders, some of whom have operated there for 40 years.The only two major retailers within the renovation project, bookmaker William Hill and H & T Pawnbrokers, signed deals allowing them to stay open and avoid building works, infuriating the independent traders.
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