WBEZ | gentrification http://www.wbez.org/tags/gentrification Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Don't blame 'evil hipsters.' Broader forces caused gentrification. http://www.wbez.org/programs/takeaway/2015-08-26/dont-blame-evil-hipsters-broader-forces-caused-gentrification-112727 <p><p>Benjamin Grant is urban design policy director at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.spur.org/" target="_blank">SPUR</a>, a leading US&nbsp;civic planning organization. It&#39;s part of his job description to understand the intricacies and complications of gentrification &mdash; a word that gets thrown around by real estate agents as a selling point, and by displaced people as a pejorative term.</p><p>&ldquo;Gentrification is sort of an imprecise term that takes in a lot of different phenomena,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;But broadly speaking, it&rsquo;s a bunch of related processes by which a wealthier, typically whiter, group of people start to move into an urban neighborhood that has historically been a working-class neighborhood or a neighborhood of color in many cases. Prices start to go up, and it&rsquo;s a process that has a lot of different actors and a lot of different forces shaping it, but we give the term gentrification to that process.&rdquo;</p><p>Grant says that it&rsquo;s important to separate the idea of gentrification from the idea of displacement. The latter, he argues, is the inherent problem facing changing urban communities.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not intrinsically the case that the benefits of investment that come to urban neighborhoods exclude the residents that live there,&rdquo; Grant says. &ldquo;I think in some cases, and with some types of investments, that&rsquo;s true. For example, a high-end restaurant or an exclusive condo built in one of these neighborhoods is certainly not something that&rsquo;s going to be available to the lower-income people that have historically lived there.&rdquo;</p><p>However, Grant says new waves of investment in urban neighborhoods can bring improvements to public safety, to public parks and area schools &mdash; features that benefit a community more broadly. But beyond investment, he argues government can play a role.</p><p>&ldquo;There are a lot of different layers where policy can act,&rdquo; Grant says. &ldquo;Probably the most immediate actor in that space are city planning and economic development departments &mdash; city governments control zoning, regulations about inclusionary housing, and the ability to provide affordable housing that&rsquo;s financed by market rate housing as a way to leverage some of that investment to benefit a broader swath of people.&rdquo;</p><p>In addition to city governments, Grant says regional, state, and federal governments can fight displacement through tax credit financing for affordable housing, and directing expenditures for large infrastructure projects so public money can flow to areas that benefit large swaths of people.</p><p>Still, newcomers to urban areas &mdash; people dubbed &ldquo;yuppies&rdquo; or &ldquo;evil hipsters&rdquo; &mdash; are often accused of ignoring&nbsp;broader communities in favor of their own interests.</p><p>&ldquo;I think that narrative and that set of terms is unfortunate,&rdquo; Grant says. &ldquo;The gentrification process that we see in many cities around the country, it&rsquo;s not something that one group of people is doing to another group of people &mdash; it is a process that is emerging from thousands of individual decisions.&rdquo;</p><p>Grant adds that the narrative of &ldquo;heroes&rdquo; and &ldquo;villains&rdquo; can distort the larger problems facing urban communities around the country.</p><p>&ldquo;We need to understand that in many cities we have a serious housing crisis &mdash; a shortage that is a result of us not providing adequate housing, particularly in the kind of urban, walkable, amenity-rich neighborhoods that people increasingly want to live in,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s important to note that this broader process is a side effect of a very positive change in American cities where, after 85 years of abandoning our cities, people want to live in cities again.&rdquo;</p><p>According the the US&nbsp;Census Bureau, more Americans are living in cities &mdash; almost 200 million in 2013, a 14 percent increase over 2000 &mdash; something Grant considers a positive trend.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s good news for the planet, that&rsquo;s good news for our democracy, I believe, in terms of public space and people living together instead of in isolated houses behind two car garages,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;There are a lot of positive aspects to the American desire to live in cities again. But there are also very real consequences for people that stuck it out or were stuck during the period when we abandoned our cities and let them decline. We need to keep in perspective that this is somewhat a creature of a big picture urban and economic phenomena in this country.&rdquo;</p><p><em>&mdash;<a href="http://www.thetakeaway.org/story/it-gentrification-or-revitalization/" target="_blank">The Takeaway</a></em></p></p> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 10:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/takeaway/2015-08-26/dont-blame-evil-hipsters-broader-forces-caused-gentrification-112727 Rents may be going up, but residents say they're not going anywhere http://www.wbez.org/news/rents-may-be-going-residents-say-theyre-not-going-anywhere-111269 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Land-trust-2.png" style="height: 240px; width: 320px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: left;" title="(from right) Arturo Chavez and his roommate, Jorge Herrera, share an apartment for $700 a month in Albany Park. A new building owner is evicting them to convert the units into upscale rentals." />There&rsquo;s a fight brewing in Albany Park over who gets to live there.</p><p>Arturo Chavez would like to stay in the North Side neighborhood, where he&rsquo;s lived for roughly three years &mdash; but that seems increasingly unlikely.</p><p>&ldquo;I go around in a car, looking for places,&rdquo; he says, speaking in Spanish. &ldquo;I see ads, and I call the numbers. Some places were being remodeled. I was told they were going to rent it, but later they told me they had already leased it to family members.&rdquo;</p><p>Chavez is one of the few remaining tenants of 3001 W Lawrence Avenue, a courtyard apartment building with 32 units. In August, new owners bought the building and notified its tenants that they were all to be evicted. The plan is to gut rehab the units and turn them into upscale rentals.</p><p>Inside, ceiling pipes have started to leak and parts of the walls are falling off. Chavez, a car mechanic who has been fighting for workers compensation since he was injured last year on the job, knows he&rsquo;ll have to leave soon. But he says he hasn&rsquo;t been able to find another place nearby that comes close to the $700 monthly rent he pays now.</p><p>&ldquo;The rents are too high and that means people are being separated and they&rsquo;re moving to areas farther away,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Antonio Gutierrez, an organizer with the community group Centro Autonomo in Albany Park, says scores of low-income Albany Park residents have been pushed out in recent years. Just like Chavez, they&rsquo;ve been unable to keep up with the rising rents and property values in some areas.</p><p>&ldquo;I would say about 40 percent of them, they ended up having to leave Albany Park and having to move outside the city to suburbs,&rdquo; said Gutierrez.</p><p>Between 2011 and 2013, the median home price in Albany Park rose almost 40 percent. Gutierrez says after the recession, speculators flocked back to the neighborhood, buying foreclosed homes and driving up property values.</p><p>So last year, Centro Autonomo decided to try a creative idea to bolster affordable properties in the neighborhood: it created a &ldquo;community land trust&rdquo; called Casas del Pueblo. The land trust is a non-profit entity that will acquire properties in the neighborhood, then rent them out.</p><p>&ldquo;(The rent) would just be the taxes for the property, the insurance for the property and a maintenance fee,&rdquo; Gutierrez explained. &ldquo;And they can stay there for as long as they want.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Albany-Park-Median-Home-Sales-Price-Median-Sales-Price_chartbuilder.png" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p>The concept of community land trusts is not new to the Chicago area. Gutierrez&rsquo;s variety is a slight twist on something that&rsquo;s been tried before, just a few miles south, in West Humboldt Park.</p><p>There, three, red brick single family homes sit on a residential street next to the noisy Union Pacific rail line.</p><p>&ldquo;The homeowners say the walls were built in a way it&rsquo;s not really bothersome,&rdquo; said William Howard, former Executive Director of the West Humboldt Park Development Council.</p><p>Under Howard, the Council created the First Community Land Trust of Chicago, also a non-profit, in 2003. He said residents at that time were worried their neighborhood might become unaffordable. With the alderman&rsquo;s support, the land trust bought city property for $1 and built the 3-bedroom homes.</p><p>&ldquo;Were it not for these spots, the gentrification would have just swamped everybody,&rdquo; said Howard. &ldquo;A lot of people would have moved out.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Land-trust.png" title="William Howard led the establishment of the first community land trust in Chicago in 2003. It built three, single-family homes that remain affordable, though the recession halted its expansion. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" /></div><p>Howard&rsquo;s land trust follows a more conventional model than the one in Albany Park.</p><p>Instead of renting the homes, it offered them for sale.</p><p>&ldquo;The land trust owns this land in perpetuity,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;And then we get the homeowners, and the homeowners own the house.&rdquo;</p><p>Howard said three things keep land trust homes affordable. First, homeowners don&rsquo;t buy the land; they only buy the house itself. That means the house sells for much less than its market value.</p><p>Second, homeowners have to agree to resale restrictions.</p><p>&ldquo;Even if the homeowners decides later on they want to sell the home, they must sell it to someone of a like economic profile,&rdquo; said Howard. &ldquo;Otherwise the land trust goes bust.&rdquo;</p><p>In other words, homeowners have to sell the home to someone that qualifies as low-income. That keeps the resale price of the house low.</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="320" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/gentrification/widget/14/" style="float: right; clear: right;" width="400"></iframe></p><p>Finally, homeowners only pay property taxes on the value of the house, not including the land.</p><p>Howard originally wanted to build ten homes, but the timing didn&rsquo;t work out.</p><p>&ldquo;We only got three up,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think anyone at that point had any idea that the recession would last as long as it did or be as deep as it was.&rdquo;</p><p>During the recession concerns about gentrification in West Humboldt Park fizzled out.</p><p>The First Community Land Trust of Chicago still exists, but only to collect the nominal monthly ground lease from the three homeowners in those homes. Property values in the neighborhood dropped so much after the housing bubble burst that it doesn&rsquo;t make sense for the land trust to build additional homes.</p><p>But there is another Chicago-area land trust that&rsquo;s flourishing. It&rsquo;s north of the city, in Highland Park. Luisa Espinosa-Lara and her family once struggled just to rent in this wealthy suburb.</p><p>&ldquo;We thought OK, one day (when) we are able to buy a house, it&rsquo;s not going to be here,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Houses here are so expensive.&rdquo;</p><p>But thanks to Community Partners for Affordable Housing, Illinois&rsquo;s oldest and largest community land trust, Espinosa-Lara and her husband were able to buy a three-bedroom house in Highland Park. They paid $175,000 for it, roughly half of its market value.</p><p>&ldquo;It was like when you feel that you win the lottery, but like you get millions,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;because you don&rsquo;t have to go. And I think it&rsquo;s so painful when you have to leave.&rdquo;</p><p>In Highland Park, the community land trust isn&rsquo;t really about gentrification. Instead, it&rsquo;s about creating inclusive, mixed-income neighborhoods.</p><p>That&rsquo;s what Antonio Gutierrez hopes to do back in Chicago&rsquo;s Albany Park neighborhood. But he&rsquo;s taking on a big challenge. Community land trusts typically need hundreds of thousands of dollars in startup costs, to buy, renovate or build homes. Most of them rely on a mix of public grants and private donations.</p><p>Casas del Pueblo doesn&rsquo;t have that kind of money, so Gutierrez hopes to persuade banks to donate foreclosed homes to the community land trust. So far, this strategy has yet to bear fruit.</p><p>&ldquo;Every single time I get to a meeting with a bank, the first thing they ask is how many houses do you have now? How many houses are you managing? And when we say zero, they close the door,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Still, Gutierrez remains undeterred.</p><p>He believes once they have a couple of homes, others will look to his community land trust as a model for how gentrification can benefit even those it would normally displace.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef"><em>@oyousef</em></a><em> and </em><a href="https://twitter.com/wbezoutloud"><em>@WBEZoutloud</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 08:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/rents-may-be-going-residents-say-theyre-not-going-anywhere-111269 'Uber-gentrification' a force in Chicago's West Loop http://www.wbez.org/news/uber-gentrification-force-chicagos-west-loop-111257 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/uber-gentrification1.jpg" style="height: 240px; width: 320px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: right;" title="Meatpacking trucks in the shadows of the new Google Chicago headquarters on West Fulton Market. (WBEZ/Natalie Moore)" />Chicago&rsquo;s West Loop used to be called Skid Row &mdash; a dark stretch of emptiness and foreboding industrial buildings. Then in 1990, a local talk show host moved her Harpo Studios into a former cold storage warehouse on west Washington Street.</p><p>Call it the Oprah Effect.</p><p>The neighborhood underwent a massive transformation that hasn&rsquo;t really slowed down since. Oprah Winfrey is long gone. But blocks away another new occupant in a former cold storage warehouse is now the one making waves.</p><p>Call it the Google Effect.</p><p>Google won&rsquo;t move into its new Chicago headquarters on West Fulton Street until next year. But it&rsquo;s already turbocharging more development, a phenomenon some researchers call &ldquo;uber-gentrification.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;If you think of uber relative to what &mdash; so now it&rsquo;s not residential, it&rsquo;s uber relative to the kind of commercial space or the kind of manufacturing that was there,&rdquo; said Janet Smith, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago who compiled the gentrification index.</p><p>Smith says while people aren&rsquo;t really being displaced, the same can&rsquo;t be said for businesses.</p><p>&ldquo;And now you&rsquo;re finding art galleries, you&rsquo;re finding bougie restaurants. So what&rsquo;s replacing it is both a different clientele and different land use and probably contributing differently to the tax base,&rdquo; Smith said.</p><p>A flood of new techworkers is expected to fuel even more exclusive retail in the area.&nbsp; Already this year the Soho House opened a private club with a rooftop pool. It joined swanky cocktail venues and other seen-and-be-seen hotspots on Randolph and Fulton.</p><p>On a recent Friday evening before the sun set, customers crowded Green Street Smoked Meats. As a line of people stretched near the door, the inside sounded more like a nightclub than a rib joint.</p><p>Even during the economic downturn, this corridor proved to be recession proof with celebrity chefs setting up shop along restaurant row.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/insert-images/westloop-small_0.gif" title="It's easy to see the redevelopment of West Fulton from 2007 to 2014 in Google Streetview images." /></div><p>&ldquo;If private sector decisions move the community to where we might have more higher-end retailers, where we might have higher-end restaurants, then let it be,&rdquo; said Roger Romanelli, executive director of the Randolph Fulton Market Association, a nonprofit economic and community development group.</p><p>It&rsquo;s not just the private sector. Investment has been deliberate here. Two decades ago the city created a tax increment financing, or TIF, district to spur economic development.</p><p>The city has also given a slew of incentives to the tech industry, and the number of building permits has remained steady.</p><p>But this part of the West Loop isn&rsquo;t all shiny new offices and high-end restaurants. The area is eclectic and gritty. Remnants of the old meatpacking district are still on full display.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/uber-gentrification2.jpg" style="height: 240px; width: 320px; float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="A meat warehouse on West Fulton Market (WBEZ/Natalie Moore)" />There&rsquo;s the rumble of trucks, the scent of animal carcasses, and on a chilly afternoon, workers washing a sidewalk in front of El Cubano Wholesale Meats.</p><p>Rolando Casimiro is one of the owners. He said he&rsquo;s not fazed by all the new development.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve always embraced the new businesses, the new restaurants, the new nightclubs. We&rsquo;ve had our issues, we&rsquo;ve resolved them as neighbors. We have a great relationship standing with them. The issues that arise, we deal with them as neighbors. We don&rsquo;t need the government to come in,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Businesses want uneven sidewalks fixed and more stoplights, but less city interference in landmarking historic buildings. Now that the area&rsquo;s a hip destination, they worry landmark restrictions could ultimately hurt their property&rsquo;s resale value.</p><p>Roger Romanelli says he hears that concern a lot. But overall, he thinks &ldquo;uber-gentrification&rdquo; is working out just fine here.</p><p>&ldquo;People are evolving together. People are working together. There&rsquo;s no winners and losers. There are winners and winners and more winners and we&rsquo;re all working it out together &mdash; residents, businesses and property owners,&rdquo; Romanelli said.</p><p>But UIC&rsquo;s Janet Smith said there are losers when it comes to who rents.</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="320" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/gentrification/widget/28/" style="float: right; clear: right;" width="400"></iframe></p><p>&ldquo;If people think the next best thing is I can rent this out to a high-end gallery rather than to a low-end gallery, they&rsquo;re going to go with the high-end gallery. Well, the low-end gallery is showing the up-and-coming artist, not the established,&rdquo; Smith said.</p><p>As the business boom continues, a sort of exclusivity sets in &mdash; for better or worse.</p><p>&ldquo;We have to think about what are we doing five years from now that we are either going to regret or we missed an opportunity to keep that diversity that everyone wants,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Back when Fulton and Randolph were sleepy, industrial strips, the homeless and unemployed in the area used to hustle for warehouse work.</p><p>People like Clifford Smiley, who Romanelli and I encountered on the street during our interview.</p><p>&ldquo;They moving a lot of homeless people out of here and we don&rsquo;t have no place to go, and place to get honest money. These restaurants are coming along but what about us? I&rsquo;ll wash a window for a dollar,&rdquo; Smiley said.</p><p>Romanelli then turned to Smiley and discussed an employment training program. After talking for a moment, Smiley quietly asked Romanelli if he&rsquo;d buy him a sandwich.</p><p>Romanelli said he could get him something to eat at the nearby Starbucks.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a>.&nbsp;Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 07:52:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/uber-gentrification-force-chicagos-west-loop-111257 In 'up-and-coming' area, what's the tipping point for gentrification? http://www.wbez.org/news/and-coming-area-whats-tipping-point-gentrification-111236 <p><p>On a recent weekday, Reid Mackin of the Belmont Central Chamber of Commerce shows off one of the main commercial strips in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood on the Northwest Side.</p><p>There&rsquo;s a Cricket wireless store on the corner, A&amp;G Fresh Market down the street and a Polish restaurant that nods to the area&rsquo;s past.</p><p>&ldquo;We used to have a lot of franchise foods, but because of the independent restaurants, the franchise food places couldn&rsquo;t compete with those folks,&rdquo; Mackin said.</p><p>But these aren&rsquo;t the restaurants you&rsquo;d find in a destination neighborhood like Logan Square. Over the years, that neighborhood has obviously gentrified. The rent&rsquo;s gone up and the white population has increased. The median home price for 2013 was $360,000, above its previous peak.</p><p>Belmont Cragin isn&rsquo;t experiencing anything like Logan Square&rsquo;s turbo-charged economy. But as it comes back from the housing crisis, some wonder: is this healthy redevelopment or the beginnings of gentrification?</p><p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t tell you how many clients that have started in Logan Square or they&rsquo;ve started in Humboldt Park and they end up looking in Belmont Cragin,&rdquo; said <a href="https://www.redfin.com/real-estate-agents/clayton-jirak">Clayton Jirak, Redfin realtor</a>.</p><p>Jirak says new buyers are attracted to the neighborhood&rsquo;s bungalow belt. They like the solid housing stock and prices ranging from around $150,000 to $300,000.</p><p>&ldquo;The other big factor in Belmont Cragin has been the redevelopment and the renovation that&rsquo;s been going on with a lot of distressed properties that were left over from the real estate recession,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Belmont Cragin hasn&rsquo;t fully recovered, but in 2013 its median home price was up nearly 24 percent from its lowest point after the housing crash. At the high end of the market, a newly flipped home was recently listed at $435,000.</p><p>Those types of sales worry Julio Rodriguez. He&rsquo;s the director of financial education for the Northwest Side Housing Center.</p><p>He says some longtime residents are getting priced out because of those investors.</p><p>&ldquo;Our goal is to have it community owned and have community residents involved. But it&rsquo;s kind of hard to accomplish that when we have so many developers coming in buying, flipping it and renting out for a couple of years and selling it once home prices go up,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>The organization&rsquo;s executive director James Rudyk points to Logan Square where a small number of investors own a lot of property.</p><p>&ldquo;What may have started off as a good idea &mdash; let&rsquo;s get some new apartments, let&rsquo;s create loft space, or lets put in new retail or a coffee shop. Great, great, great. But when that happens then all of a sudden folks who have been renting for $800 and now have to pay $1200 or have to leave their home or lose their home, it&rsquo;s not affordable,&rdquo; Rudyk said.</p><p>He finds himself asking where the line is between redevelopment and gentrification.</p><p>&ldquo;How many new condos are too many? How many Starbucks are too many? So I think there&rsquo;s a tipping point a neighborhood has to reach. What it is? I don&rsquo;t know,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>But not everyone in this neighborhood thinks that tipping point is imminent.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BC%20gentrification%201.jpg" title="Peggy Mejias stands outside her Belmont Cragin home. Her family was the second Latino household on the block. Although more whites are moving in, she doesn’t think the neighborhood is gentrifying. “These are just average families,” she says. (WBEZ/Susie An)" /></div><p>Peggy Mejias has been living in this house in Belmont Cragin since the 1980s, when home prices were near $50,000. Back then her household was the second Latino family on the block. Over the years she&rsquo;s seen the neighborhood shift from mostly white to mostly brown.</p><p>&ldquo;Now it&rsquo;s more Mexican. But now I&rsquo;m starting to see more Anglos in the area,&rdquo; Mejias said.</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="320" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/gentrification/widget/19/" style="float: left; clear: left;" width="400"></iframe></p><p>Mejias says there are more businesses opening up, like a busy laundrymat that she calls &ldquo;nice and expensive&rdquo; and a Dunkin Donuts that&rsquo;s packed in the mornings.</p><p>Then there&rsquo;s the vacant bar near her house. It&rsquo;s been converted into a trendy-looking hot dog eatery that&rsquo;s set to open next month.</p><p>&ldquo;I caught one of the construction guys and he said the person who purchased it, he&rsquo;s been working for him for a long time. He&rsquo;s an investor and he goes into neighborhoods that he sees are up-and-coming. And I walked home thinking, &lsquo;Oh yeah, up-and-coming. Here we go,&rsquo;&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Mejias doubts this shop will be wildly successful. She knows values in the neighborhood are going up, but she considers that normal redevelopment rather than the early signs of gentrification.</p><p>&ldquo;Gentrification is kind of bringing in a completely different class of people. The artistic. Like you see in, West Town, Bucktown when you saw all of that, it was the hipsters. It was all of that. These are just average families,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>That kind of stable growth is the same thing the Northwest Side Housing Center is seeking. It offers things like foreclosure prevention and financial education programs to keep the neighborhood affordable.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BC%20gentrification%202.jpg" title="Gloria Valencia cooks dinner in her Belmont Cragin home. With the help of the Northwest Side Housing Center, she was able to buy her home last year. (WBEZ/Susie An)" /></div><p>Gloria Valencia took advantage of some of those services by taking a free homeownership class. She then applied for a loan from the Federal Housing Administration that allowed her to buy a four-bedroom house in the neighborhood last year.</p><p>The Northwest Side Housing Center even helped her start a block club.</p><p>&ldquo;We talk about what&rsquo;s going on with our block, our neighborhood and the whole city of Chicago. It could be small things like, &lsquo;I&rsquo;m missing a blue recycling bin&rsquo; to other things that are a little more important to our neighborhood and our block, such as gang violence,&rdquo; Valencia said.</p><p>James Rudyk says affordability doesn&rsquo;t mean housing values have to remain stagnant or that certain people or businesses should stay out.</p><p>&ldquo;If residents on Diversey and Laramie really do want a Starbucks, then let&rsquo;s put in a Starbucks. If they really do want a Trader Joes, then let&rsquo;s put in a Trader Joes. If they&rsquo;re really fine with the fruit market, let&rsquo;s leave the fruit market. So the question is, who makes that decision?,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Rudyk hopes it&rsquo;s the people who live here, and not outside investors. He says that may determine whether Belmont Cragin redevelops or gentrifies.</p><p><em>Susie An is WBEZ&rsquo;s business reporter. Follow her</em><a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda"> <em><u>@soosieon</u></em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 07:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/and-coming-area-whats-tipping-point-gentrification-111236 Morning Shift: The changing demographics of Chicago's neighborhoods http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2014-12-15/morning-shift-changing-demographics-chicagos-neighborhoods-111233 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/BartShore.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We get an weekend update on Chicago sports. And, learn how accurate paternal test really are. Plus, we kick off our new series, &quot;There Goes the Neighborhood&quot; where we explore Chicago&#39;s most gentrified areas and we take your calls.</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-118/embed?header=false&border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-118.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-118" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: The changing demographics of Chicago's neighborhoods " on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 12:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2014-12-15/morning-shift-changing-demographics-chicagos-neighborhoods-111233 Real-estate developer in hot area sees bright future — and displacement http://www.wbez.org/news/real-estate-developer-hot-area-sees-bright-future-%E2%80%94-and-displacement-111231 <p><p><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Rob%20Buono%20meeting%203%20CROPSCALE%20fix.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 258px; width: 350px;" title="At a community meeting, Robert Buono presents architectural renderings of the dual-tower complex he wants to build near a Chicago Transit Authority stop in the Logan Square neighborhood. The project is among a half-dozen residential developments that could hasten the area’s transformation to an upscale enclave. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />About 150 people packed into a Latin American restaurant a few weeks ago to hear about a proposal for an apartment complex in Logan Square, a fast-changing neighborhood on Chicago&rsquo;s Northwest Side.</p><p>At the invitation of the local alderman, real-estate developer Robert Buono got to make his case for a zoning change that would allow the project on a vacant parcel designated for something else.</p><p>Buono projected architectural renderings of the complex onto a screen facing the audience. They showed two glass towers &mdash; one 11 stories, the other 15 &mdash; that together would hold 254 residential units. He said tenants in two-bedroom apartments would pay as much as $2,700 a month.</p><p>&ldquo;Everything is privately financed,&rdquo; said Buono, 51, who became a developer after working for a Lincoln Park alderman in the 1980s, when that North Side neighborhood was transforming into a wealthy enclave. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re asking for no support from the city.&rdquo;</p><p>Buono said his towers would be part of a trend, known as &ldquo;transit-oriented development,&rdquo; in which homes are built within walking distance of train stations, making it more convenient for residents to live without a car. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re going to have higher density, lower parking and taller buildings,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>The dual-tower complex is among a half-dozen upscale residential developments proposed along Logan Square&rsquo;s stretch of the Chicago Transit Authority&rsquo;s Blue Line. That train line connects O&rsquo;Hare International Airport with the city&rsquo;s downtown, known as the Loop.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/WHEELER-KEARNS-MKE-978x1024.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 314px;" title="The towers would stand at 2293 N. Milwaukee Ave. within a few hundred feet of the California stop of the CTA’s Blue Line. (Rendering courtesy of Wheeler Kearns Architects)" />Audience members questioned Buono about everything from the shadows the towers would cast to the effect of the complex&rsquo;s rainwater runoff on the sewers to whether the residents would bring more cars to the neighborhood than he was predicting.</p><p>And another question kept coming up. How would such steep rents affect a neighborhood that still had many working-class residents, including tens of thousands of Latinos?</p><p>Buono said he had agreed to a condition, imposed by the alderman, that 10 percent of the units be reserved for affordable housing.</p><p>That led to more questions. A young man who grew up in Logan Square drew applause when he asked, &ldquo;What is the amount of profit that you are going to make if this goes exactly to plan?&rdquo;</p><p>Buono estimated that the $60 million project could net roughly $10 million or, he added quickly, it could lose that much. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s the risk that we take,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>A follow-up question was how much profit there would be if the entire building were devoted to affordable units. Buono answered.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s not a lender on the face of the earth that would loan me money to build the project,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t build it inexpensively enough for the rents to support the costs of construction. It&rsquo;s just not possible.&rdquo;</p><p>Buono is not out to solve Chicago&rsquo;s affordable-housing crisis on his own. But he said the project would help attract young professionals that would uplift Logan Square and the rest of the city. The people he has in mind would use the train to get to their jobs in the Loop. Or, Buono said, they would be &ldquo;consultants that work out of town.&rdquo;<br />&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 22px;">&lsquo;</span><span style="font-size:22px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">I don&rsquo;t want to move from here&rsquo;</span></span></p><p>Not everyone in Logan Square likes the idea of bringing in those sorts of newcomers.</p><p>A few blocks from the proposed apartment complex, Andre Vásquez pulled up to his 10-year-old daughter&rsquo;s school and slipped open the big door of his family&rsquo;s car &mdash; an old Dodge Caravan. She climbed in and told him about a field trip her class took that day.</p><p>Vásquez, 41, makes his living as a DJ for parties and business events. His wife is a part-time nanny. They&rsquo;re raising two kids in a two-bedroom Logan Square apartment about three blocks from the proposed towers.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bakery%20CROPSCALE.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 397px; width: 300px;" title="A Mexican bakery stands near a Logan Square elevated-train station that real-estate interests are eyeing for ‘transit-oriented development.’ Despite years of gentrification, Logan Square still has tens of thousands of Latinos. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />&ldquo;I pay $950 a month, which is fairly cheap for this neighborhood,&rdquo; Vásquez said. &ldquo;And I was just informed by my landlord that she&rsquo;s going to have to raise the rents at least another $400 or $500 because the taxes in the area have gone up.&rdquo;</p><p>The neighborhood&rsquo;s rents have gone up because property values have increased as wealthier people have arrived. From 2011 to 2013, median sales prices of Logan Square homes jumped almost a third.</p><p>Vásquez said he had been displaced before &mdash; from a nearby neighborhood called West Town, where he grew up. &ldquo;They built their condominiums and only people with money, and lots of money, move into them,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s no way people like myself or my parents or grandparents could ever afford it.&rdquo;</p><p>Vásquez looked at his daughter in the van&rsquo;s back seat and said he did not want her to go through the same thing. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t want to move from here,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;This is all she knows.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="320" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/gentrification/widget/22/" style="float: right; clear: right;" width="400"></iframe></p><p>This is textbook gentrification. And Buono, the real-estate developer, defends it.</p><p>Interviewed in his office, Buono said the towers would serve a basic need: &ldquo;Developing communities that are going to be attractive to the future of the city of Chicago &mdash; so that the demographic that we&rsquo;re addressing, the 18-to-35-year-olds &mdash; so that they want to move to Chicago, that they want to work in Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>Buono called the lack of development so close to the Blue Line station a missed opportunity for the city to boost its revenue. &ldquo;We look at a property like that today that pays $29,000 in real-estate taxes because it&rsquo;s vacant,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;A new development there would produce $350,000-$400,000 a year.&rdquo;</p><p>Buono said his project will benefit the entire Logan Square neighborhood. &ldquo;Bringing 300-400 people to an area, that really is depopulated, starts to support a whole bunch of activities,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Those people living in those buildings support the businesses in the neighborhood.&rdquo;<br />&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">&lsquo;Natural and inevitable&rsquo;</span></span></p><p>This reasoning is familiar to Marisa Novara, who directs the housing and community-development program of the Metropolitan Planning Council, a nonprofit advocacy group.</p><p>&ldquo;Anyone in a neighborhood that has a lack of amenities &mdash; places to shop locally, strong schools &mdash; wants things to get better,&rdquo; Novara said. &ldquo;What they don&rsquo;t want is to not be able to live there anymore once they do get better. Housing that is near transit should be available to everyone, not only the highest bidder.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Marisa%20Novara%201%20CROPSCALE.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 242px; width: 320px;" title="Marisa Novara of the Metropolitan Planning Council, a nonprofit group, says Chicago must try to ‘harness’ the private sector due to a lack of federal affordable-housing funds. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />Novara said the city has interests beyond attracting young professionals and collecting more property taxes. When gentrification fuels economic segregation, she said, everyone loses.</p><p>&ldquo;There is a cost to concentrated poverty &mdash; education outcomes, health outcomes, crime, economic productivity,&rdquo; Novara said.</p><p>Without a massive increase in federal funds for affordable housing, Novara said, cities such as Chicago must harness the private sector. That means setting up carrots and sticks so developers in hot neighborhoods include affordable units in their projects, she said.</p><p>For his Logan Square towers, Buono has already agreed to include the 10 percent. If his project is not scaled back, that would amount to 25 units. That leaves the other 225 to be rented for whatever the market will bear.</p><p>&ldquo;If we achieve the rents that we&rsquo;re suggesting that we can &mdash; and the landlord down the street in the two-flat decides to raise his rent as a result, primarily because the market says he can &mdash; could it cause a displacement of some people?&rdquo; Buono&nbsp;asked. &ldquo;The answer to that is yes.&rdquo;</p><p>And if Buono&rsquo;s project and the other Logan Square proposals&nbsp;materialized, he acknowledged, they would &ldquo;alter the character&rdquo; of the neighborhood. &ldquo;This is a natural, inevitable trend that has happened in many neighborhoods in Chicago,&rdquo; he said.</p><p><br /><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 05:50:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/real-estate-developer-hot-area-sees-bright-future-%E2%80%94-and-displacement-111231 SRO tenants gain protections http://www.wbez.org/news/sro-tenants-gain-protections-111093 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/RS7102_IMG_2085 (outside 2)-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Low-income tenants of Chicago&rsquo;s disappearing single-room occupancy hotels have new protections under an ordinance city council approved Wednesday. The &ldquo;Chicago for All&rdquo; ordinance, as it has come to be known, passed 47-2, with only Aldermen Carrie Austin (34th) and Mary O&rsquo;Connor (41st) opposing. Supporters of the measure hope it will slow the trend of affordable SRO units falling into the hands of for-profit developers who displace low-income tenants.</p><p>&ldquo;This is all a piece of an overall fabric,&rdquo; said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose office helped broker the compromise between affordable housing advocates and SRO owners. &ldquo;The housing strategy particularly is part of a five-year plan: 41,000 units of affordable housing in the City of Chicago.&quot;</p><p>Emanuel&rsquo;s office worked closely with sponsors Alderman Walter Burnett (27th), Ameya Pawar (47th), and a coalition of organizations including ONE Northside, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, and many more.</p><p>The ordinance regulates the sale of SRO buildings such that owners are encouraged to negotiate first with buyers who intend to preserve the building as affordable housing. If an owner opts not to do so, he may sell to for-profit developers and pay into a city SRO preservation fund at the rate of $20,000 per unit in the building. The preservation fund, in turn, could be used to provide forgivable loans to SRO owners who wish to make building improvements, to subsidize building purchases by preservation buyers, and to build new SRO buildings in Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;In places like the Fourth Ward, we believe that we are doing our fair share when it comes to affordable housing and public housing,&rdquo; said Alderman William Burns (4th).&nbsp; &ldquo;And when we look at other places in the city, we ask what&rsquo;s being done to create affordable housing on the north lakefront? On the North Side of Chicago? So that there&rsquo;s equal opportunity for people to have affordable housing throughout the city&mdash;and particularly in communities where there&rsquo;s access to good schools, jobs, grocery stores, and an opportunity to break down racial segregation in this city?&rdquo;</p><p>Burns and other aldermen praised the ordinance for addressing, in part, the city&rsquo;s shortage of affordable housing. In particular, they cited it as a key way to combat the problem of homeless veterans. Housing advocates estimate about one-quarter of SRO residents are war veterans who might otherwise be homeless. Mayor Emanuel has declared one of his goals in the 2015 budget will be to end veteran homelessness in Chicago.</p><p>Additionally, the ordinance would provide additional financial assistance for SRO residents who are displaced. It would require building owners to pay between $2,000 and $10,600, depending on the circumstances. It would also forbid SRO owners from retaliating against residents who complain to the city or the news media about conditions in their buildings.</p><p>Negotiations between the city, advocates and SRO owners were challenging. Initially, many SRO owners hoped the city would shy away from regulations, and instead offer more financial incentives for them to keep their buildings affordable. But concerns early on that the regulations may be enough to prompt a lawsuit against the city have largely dissipated.</p><p>&ldquo;We were disappointed that the ordinance fell a bit short. We, and so many other stakeholders over about six months had been working very diligently,&rdquo; said Eric Rubenstein, Executive Director of the Single Room Housing Assistance Corporation. &ldquo;We will, as operators, do our very best to work with the plan, with the ordinance, as it was presented.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-6cd3f03c-a623-4dee-4055-9af79ec2a054"><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 12 Nov 2014 16:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/sro-tenants-gain-protections-111093 Morning Shift: Changing hands but no change of heart http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-10-09/morning-shift-changing-hands-no-change-heart-108875 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/WCF Flickr Strannik45.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Pioneering booksellers Ann Christopherson and Linda Bubon talk about the history and future of Women and Children First in Andersonville. Plus, a look at some Chicago neighborhoods with changing demographics.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-changing-hands-but-no-change-of-hear/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-changing-hands-but-no-change-of-hear.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-changing-hands-but-no-change-of-hear" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Changing hands but no change of heart" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 09 Oct 2013 08:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-10-09/morning-shift-changing-hands-no-change-heart-108875 Logan Square, Pilsen and Avondale: Is gentrification always a 'bad' thing? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-10/logan-square-pilsen-and-avondale-gentrification-always-bad-thing-108874 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2960672182_a048495950_z.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="(Flickr/Heather Phillips)" /></div><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">It all started with fried chicken.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">And $10 cocktails and doughnuts, too. Well, it is not just about the food and drinks, but often times, the things that drive us to certain neighborhoods now are not just the cost of living or its safety, but whether or not a new scene exists within it.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">Two years ago, I once asked a friend why he was moving to Logan Square and he simply said, &ldquo;Well, everyone else is moving there.&rdquo; His favorite neighborhood was Ukrainian Village, but it felt necessary for him to move to Logan Square because the energy (the young and middle class and creative energy) was moving there as well. Simply put, &ldquo;everything&rdquo; someone within that small yet culturally-prevalent population could want was happening in one place.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">Unlike Wicker Park before it, unlike many now established neighborhoods before it (like Old Town and Lakeview and Boystown), Logan Square&rsquo;s rise was seemingly quick and calculated. Those who have lived within the neighborhood since the beginning of its latest &ldquo;change&rdquo; from working class Latino neighborhood to its hybrid identity (part youth-built, part culinary-rich, part artistic-led, and part working class) would say the change was as slow as others, but from the outside, it appears swift.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">Most gentrification is a multi-step process involving artists, creatives, those attracted to the pursuits of artists and creatives, and finally young, urban professionals. In <em>The Urbanist Chronicle</em>, DePaul University professor Dr. John Joe Schlichtman&nbsp;<a href="http://www.urbanistchronicle.com/index.php?option=com_k2&amp;view=item&amp;id=2:schlichtman-response-to-confessions-of-a-harlem-gentrifier&amp;Itemid=148" target="_blank">describes</a> it as, &ldquo;</span>pulls of geographic centrality and the proximity of amenities, pulls of a social fabric in which one knows &ldquo;the friendly faces at the deli,&rdquo; pulls of the potential of extra square footage, and, yes, pulls of the romantic history-steeped &lsquo;authenticity&rsquo;.&rdquo; But in the case of Logan Square (and in smaller doses, neighborhoods like Avondale and Pilsen) more concerted efforts are underway to transform large swaths of the area in one fell swoop.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">Jason Patch and Neil Brenner <a href="http://www.blackwellreference.com/public/uid=3/tocnode?id=g9781405124331_yr2012_chunk_g978140512433113_ss1-35" target="_blank">call</a></span>&nbsp;gentrification, &ldquo;the reinvestment of real estate capital into declining, inner-city neighborhoods to create a new residential infrastructure for middle and high-income inhabitants&rdquo; in the <em>Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology</em>. &nbsp;For Logan Square, that especially entails the South and East sections of the neighborhood surrounding the two major CTA Blue Line stops along Milwaukee Avenue.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">In a report of rapid changes to the area &ndash; and the 2300 block of North Milwaukee in particular &ndash; Eater Chicago editor Daniel Gerzina <a href="http://chicago.eater.com/archives/2013/05/14/six-hospitality-projects-to-remake-logan-square-block.php" target="_blank">noted</a></span>&nbsp;that it would be &ldquo;unrecognizable within months, changing the course of a street and a neighborhood in one swoop.&rdquo; At least six hospitality projects are already <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/logan-square-new-bars-analogue-robert-haynes-henry-prendergast/Content?oid=10746020" target="_blank">in the works</a>&nbsp;and will be open within the next year.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1520842241_9f409508dd_z.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 310px; float: left;" title="(Flickr/BWChicago)" />In Avondale, Honey Butter Fried Chicken joins an established array of decadent and delicious food options like Hot Doug&rsquo;s and Kuma&rsquo;s Corner. In Pilsen, Dusek&rsquo;s Board and Beer and Punch House both recently opened within the transformed historical Thalia Hall.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">Each burgeoning new venture is unique, but in my head, I begin to check off visual and sensual similarities one can expect within the spaces: concept-driven cocktails, upscale small bites, and moody lighting. The crowd will probably look similar too upon first glance. It becomes difficult to distinguish one place from the next as each venue attempts to find the sort of success that has put certain neighborhood institutions on the map (Longman &amp; Eagle, The Whistler, Fat Rice).</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">However, gentrification should not solely be considered a &ldquo;bad&rdquo; thing. That sort of energy, prosperity, liveability, and inherent possibility should be viable and available for any neighborhood. </span></p><p>Many forgotten or derided places are desperate for the sort of vitality that is bringing a second (or third) life to neighborhoods previously mentioned. The Logan Square many know now is not the Logan Square of a decade ago. Certainly the same can be said for Pilsen or Avondale, too. It does not mean that these neighborhoods were &ldquo;bad,&rdquo; merely undiscovered and more representative of the racial, social, environmental, and economical diversity that make cities so unique and so complex.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">When my mother talks about the Austin neighborhood of her youth, she is talking about a place that was filled with shops lining major streets and boulevards. She is talking about the ability to walk up and down the street without fear of violence. For myself growing up in the neighborhood, I never truly experienced that version of Austin. But I too dream of that neighborhood returned to its fullest glory. Its beauty feels most times like a secret that can only be articulated in person.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">Gentrification is both complicated and welcomed. To only present one side of the matter ignores the very real desire of many to diminish and eventually eradicate problems of many city neighborhoods. According to Schlictman, these are, &ldquo;</span>precisely what grassroots community organizers are fighting for in neighborhoods with deteriorating real estate, high crime rates, and disheartened residents.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">I am a middle class urbanite living in a gentrified neighborhood. I recognize my place in the system, how my choice of living, regardless of what I choose, will only reinforce the culture I am seeking to escape or join.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">But this is not about deciding which side is correct. In the end, both are correct. But only one can outlive the other.&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">These bars and restaurants are success-driven ventures that seek to mimic the popularity of another place. And why shouldn&rsquo;t they?</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-42e0ee21-9c06-9a57-fac0-48a57d31ecb8">Perhaps because change of this nature comes too quickly. Displacement (of bodies, of cultural identity) is not gradual, but forceful. It is a concerted effort to make something entirely &ldquo;new.&rdquo; It is an identity change that feels less like wearing a new top and more like a series of tattoos. Once they arrive, the change is nearly permanent. Their presence will forever alter the landscape of where they now exist. And as the buildings themselves change so too can the people moving within them. They are hinting at the desires of the neighborhoods current residents and establishing themselves as the &ldquo;right&rdquo; venue for its anticipated future residents. They are not waiting for the change. They are the change.&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Britt Julious is the co-host of&nbsp;<a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbezs-changing-channels" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Changing Channels</a>, a podcast about the future of television. She also writes about race and culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 09 Oct 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-10/logan-square-pilsen-and-avondale-gentrification-always-bad-thing-108874 There is 'home' there http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-10/there-home-there-108810 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/4110857626_80c28d7bac_z.jpg" style="height: 415px; width: 620px;" title="(Flickr/spylaw01)" /></div><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">I tell people where I live and they say little to nothing. I tell people where I came from, where I started, and they show an understanding that I live where I currently do for a reason.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">For a large part of my childhood, I straddled the line between city girl and suburban girl. My grandparents, currently living in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago, like to say that they raised me during the first years of my life. I have vague memories of my immediate family&rsquo;s time in this neighborhood, but I will always remember my grandparents&rsquo; home &ndash; truly, my second home &ndash; in a quiet enclave of the area.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">The blocks were long, very long, seemingly neverending. The houses were never small and usually fit somewhere between just right and too much. Later, while living in Oak Park, my friends would never believe that you could stand in the middle of one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city and confuse it for the simplicity of the suburbs.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">&ldquo;The houses are just as big,&rdquo; I used to begin. Thinking about our cramped apartment off Lake street and later, our stucco bungalow, I would add, &ldquo;Even bigger.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">When you are young, it is difficult to understand one&rsquo;s hood as anything other than home. I had no concept of Austin&rsquo;s violence. I remember New Year&rsquo;s Eve and the wave of gunshots that would go off in celebration. It was a frightening, if not expected reminder that other people existed when the streets get quickly quiet and the sky gets quickly dark at night. In winter, we were kept indoors, kept away from any perceived dangers.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">&ldquo;Do you remember how their used to be shops all up and down Madison?&rdquo; my mother asked my aunt. We were all gathered around the dining room table at my parents&rsquo; home in Oak Park for a final, gluttonous, post-birthday meal.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">I looked up. My mother turned toward me.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">&ldquo;It was like we had our own downtown,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;But then the riots happened.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/3597296136_45320e21c3_z.jpg" style="height: 207px; width: 310px; float: left;" title="(Flickr/Laurie Chipps)" />When talking about the neighborhood her family finally settled in after moving around the city after their migration from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, my mother has a tendency to end her statements with, &ldquo;But then the riots happened.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">Nothing else needs to be said. For her, for many people, there was the &ldquo;before&rdquo; and the &ldquo;after.&rdquo; The West Side of Chicago, like many black-dominated neighborhoods across the country, never truly recovered from the riots after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.&rsquo;s assassination. An older generation is in mourning of what they once knew. A younger generation is in mourning of what could have been. An even younger generation knows no difference at all.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">Why do some neighborhoods thrive while others find constant suffering? It is not for lack of effort. The blocks around my grandparents&rsquo; home are largely calm and friendly. Just like in my childhood, I still see women setting up snow cone stands in front of their homes. Kids still play with each other, running up and down the block until the weight of the sun and the weight of the day has worn them out. Neighbors still know and speak to each other.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">This is more than I can say about where I currently live. I am friends with the women in my three-flat apartment building, but I know no one else on my block. A couple that lives in a condo building next door only pause in my presence to stop their dog from mauling my arm as it has tried to do since I first moved into my building two years ago.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">There is community where I grew up, where my family is from, where my grandparents still live. But sometimes community is not enough. A cul-de-sac was built at the end of my grandparents&rsquo; block to deter loitering on the corner after a shooting.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">&ldquo;I was on the couch and had to jump to the floor,&rdquo; my grandmother once said to me about the incident. This was a comical image in my head at the time, but she gave me this look. This was not the first time it happened, she seemed to be saying. It was the first time she was telling me about it.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">The <em>New York Times</em> recently <a href="http://6thfloor.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/26/can-you-tell-an-up-and-coming-neighborhood-by-its-emergent-energy/?src=recg" target="_blank">asked</a> if we can tell which neighborhoods are &ldquo;next&rdquo; based on their &ldquo;emergent energy.&rdquo; I would say yes, this is possible, but also coupled with more practical factors. How close is it to public transportation? What is its proximity to other &ldquo;good neighborhoods?&rdquo; Is it safe, or rather, can it be safe? Is its identity too strong to be overtaken by the forces of gentrification? (Because in the end, isn&rsquo;t a &ldquo;next&rdquo; neighborhood almost always about stripping bare its essence?)</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">Even living in it, one can never know a place truly. There are more pockets of my neighborhood I do not know than ones I do. To write off any one neighborhood is to discredit and discount the people living in it, trying to make it something other than what most see. I can feel that energy in parts of Austin, that spark needed to turn a place around, but sometimes a spark is not enough. If a weak and battered foundation exists, one spark can destroy everything in its path. It is easier to destroy than to build.&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Britt Julious is the co-host of&nbsp;<a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbezs-changing-channels" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Changing Channels</a>, a podcast about the future of television. She also writes about race and culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 01 Oct 2013 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-10/there-home-there-108810