Today’s Headlines for Monday, April 25

  • Hinz’s Idea to Save the Lucas Museum Is So Crazy, It Just Might Work (Crain’s)
  • Pawar: Lincoln Square Needs to Get More Urban to Keep Small-Town Feel (DNA)
  • Oboi Reed Discusses Slow Roll Chicago’s Bike Equity Strategy (Next City)
  • Orseno: Metra Is Taking Steps to Prevent Suicides on Tracks (Sun-Times)
  • Driver Who Killed Man in Portage Park in July Charged With Homicide (DNA)
  • CTA Suspends Bus Driver Charged With Attacking Woman With Bat (Tribune)
  • Two-Week Closure of Montrose ‘L’ Stop for Rehab Starts Tuesday (DNA)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

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  • Chicagoan

    Alderman Pawar is spot on, as always. Neighborhoods like Lincoln Square are starting to have more families move into the area, which is great. But, what’s not great is as these families move in, density goes down. If we’re to continue down this road of two-flats conversion (or knockdowns, ugh), we need to find a way to increase density some place else. Building more apartments along the city’s large thoroughfares is a great place to start.

    A lot of homeowners don’t like rental construction, but people need to understand these units help keep neighborhoods vibrant and are crucial to supporting small businesses.

    If you don’t want your neighborhood to go the way of the Southport Corridor, where small businesses are leaving and Noodles & Company-type places are coming in, support density.

    Now, how we get density is a different thing. Old Town is set to get more density at the sake of the neighborhood’s historical charm (They’re knocking down old buildings for new construction apartments/condos/hotels). As a result, Old Town quite honestly isn’t worthy of the word “Old” right now.

  • Old Town is expanding with 69 more units in a 7-story building on the site of a former parking lot!
    http://www.chicagocityscape.com/permits.php?pid=100644997

  • “A lot of homeowners don’t like rental construction, but people need to understand these units help keep neighborhoods vibrant and are crucial to supporting small businesses.”

    I generally agree, especially based on the news reports of the battle of rhetoric between Alder Burnett and people who attended proposed rental development meetings in the West Loop.

    The reality of the number of renters and owners in a neighborhood seem to be misunderstood. For example, in the Census tract that would contain the proposed multi-unit adaptive reuse development on Lawrence referenced in the article, the number of renter-occupied units and owner-occupied units is about the same: 624 and 657, respectively.

    In the Census tract across the street, south of Lawrence, and including the semi-pedestrianized block of Lincoln Ave, there are 775 renter-occupied units and 454 owner-occupied units.

  • Chicagoan

    They’re also knocking down an old two-story building, though.

  • Chicagoan

    Regarding Alderman Burnett’s plight, it’s a typical ordeal that we’re seeing in cities everywhere. People move into a neighborhood, sometimes before the place has “made it” and then they are pretty keen on tripping up progress afterwards. People “get theirs” and decide that the neighborhood is good as it is. You see it everywhere, people fighting the construction of apartments on a surface parking lot, people opposing new construction because it’ll block views.

    It’s nice to hear that Alderman Pawar is aware of the criticism that new, urban construction receives in this city, often by local homeowners. Specifically, he’s shown that he won’t let them dissuade his thinking.

  • I’ve been in neighborhoods where the widespread belief among the single-family-home owners was “Renters are all destructive and scatterbrained, probably poor, probably criminal, and only want to shit on our neighborhood and then move on in a year or two.”

    Then they would cite individual problem tenants as representative of the entire class, ignoring any of the (known to me) interested, long-term rental residents who maintained their building’s yards, picked up trash all along the block, mentored neighborhood kids, and so on.

    If rental units aren’t all studios and tiny places for college students and recent grads who work in startups, people wouldn’t have to move when their family size changed.

  • Anne A

    When I lived in Rogers Park, there were some renters who fit the stereotype and weren’t good neighbors. Most renters were outside the stereotype. Many lived in the neighborhood for 10 years or more, got involved in community organizations, picked up trash, maintained gardens where they lived or elsewhere in the neighborhood. Some had young children or were seniors.

    If there is enough variety in the size and configuration or rental properties, a healthier mix of renters can be attracted and maintained.

  • But that can’t be built if the NIMBY misconceptions are shouted loud enough at aldermen.

  • When the characters leave the neighborhood the neighborhood loses its character.

    We used to have a goodly number of characters living and walking the neighborhood. It was one of the charms of living here. But as the renters were exchanged for condo owners, who tended more towards driving and less walking the neighborhood in any case, so it seems that too that we exchanged potentially eccentric characters for bland folks without names or histories.

  • Been there, done that.
    Confessions of a NIMBY:
    http://edgewaterobserver.blogspot.com/2014/04/confessions-of-nimby.html

  • Anne A

    That’s one of the things I appreciated in Rogers Park – some great old characters who had lived in the neighborhood for decades.

    Having existing buildings converted into condos was a mixed blessing. Decrepit buildings got fixed up and problems were moved out, but good people got displaced in the process. Some condo owners didn’t necessarily understand or respect the vibe of the neighborhood and were more likely to be NIMBYs once they’d been there a year or two.

  • ardecila

    Does Streetsblog have any mechanism to reward decent behavior among the city’s alder-critters? I’m not sure what ethical rules you have, but maybe there could be some kind of seal of approval for the handful of folks like Pawar that get it. I’m cautiously optimistic about Hopkins as well.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Yes, when they do good stuff we write about it, and vice-versa.

  • planetshwoop

    I very much doubt homeowners in Chicago are against density or renters. They can be when it happens next door or very close by for s rational reason: it lowers the price of their house or quality of life. And it’s totally rational to feel that way.

    My neighbor converted his bungalow into a probably illegal 3-flat… So it’s good for density, but completely irritating that I live next to an apartment building. To make it not illegal, he built dormers, so it has more space, but the extra weight caused shifting of the houses around and eliminated sunlight for the neighbors.

    I expect the problem is homeowners hope the density happens elsewhere, which is why it’s frequently a problem.

  • Maybe not in your neighborhood, but most of the places I’ve lived (not, thankfully, my current one) people are actively hostile to the thought that a single block could contain more than one kind of dwelling.

    Mixed-density blocks are safer, more vibrant, and more economically integrated (meaning the kids that grow up there have a range of role models of many income levels). It’s a win/win/win, even for homeowners, unless the homeowners think that a single four-flat or six-flat eight houses down from them is going to tank their assessment. Or even next door. Why do you think renters are automatically more annoying than condo owners, or owners of a single house?

    Obsessive focus on your house’s theoretical price is the creator of much evil, in city planning. It harms both the homeowner themselves and entire neighborhoods. Especially when the city treats some fictive version of that number (based on what COULD be built there, theoretically, if you knocked down the current building and evicted everyone who lives there) as gospel and taxes you accordingly.

  • I absolutely detest the moved-here-two-years-ago NIMBYs.

    I grew up at North and Clybourn, and when the mall anchored by Treasure Island was built it was a game-changer: suddenly we could walk to retail!

    But then a bunch of yuppie condos went up behind it and suddenly the alderman meetings and beat meetings were full of entitled DINKs with professional-level jobs complaining that they had to drive across the (soft-crossinged — with rubber) railroad tracks from Finkl every time they went into or out of their little cul-de-sac neighborhood.

    Cry me a river, seriously. What the hell. You knew it was there when you bought the house.

  • planetshwoop

    “Obsessive focus on your house’s theoretical price is the creator of much evil, in city planning.”

    I very much agree with this. I think the obsession with “my house is my greatest asset” creates significant distortions, not least of which is an over investment in SFH. And the fact that while it is a savings vehicle, it’s often a terrible one where people lose money.

  • Homeowners and the City are both complicit, because for the City’s coffers it’s critical to keep real estate values high – this is how they disguise the levy and justify the property taxes. So people love the idea that on paper they’re becoming rich, not realizing that your property value only matters if you sell/borrow against it. The property taxes otoh, are very real, and over time have contributed to higher rents. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you rent pricing is all about supply and demand but not upkeep, that’s just economically illiterate. Out of pocket costs to maintain rental property (and owner occupied two- and three-flats) of course translate into rental pricing.

    If like thousands of other Chicagoans you work in the government, non-profit, or service sectors, or are retired, chances are very low you receive cost of living increases that are even remotely on par with property tax increases. Remember the “7% solution”? Who gets a 7% raise every year?

  • Obsessive focus on ever-higher theoretical house prices destroyed the entire neighborhood I grew up in. People who owned their houses outright — who sometimes HAD owned them outright for generations — couldn’t afford to pay the property tax now being assessed against them because of “comparable” properties two blocks away with luxury gut-rehabs and marble fittings in all the washrooms.

  • planetshwoop

    Forgot to mention that we live in the same neighborhood. I live a stone’s throw from Volta.

  • I grew up at North and Clybourn, but yeah, I’m in Haugan’s district now (though my kid happens to go elsewhere; still CPS).

  • Do you think the construction is legal or illegal? You can look up the address on my other website, http://chicagocityscape.com, to see if they got a permit.

    You didn’t explain why it’s irritating to live next to an apartment building, except that there’s less sunlight.

  • planetshwoop

    Re: Construction, there was something amiss as they were subsequently required to add an egress to the top floor. Additionally, they had to cover their back porch, making a previously transparent structure (stairs) opaque and extending 10ish feet beyond the end of the existing property line and thus eliminate a lot of sunlight.

    This turned the single family home turned basically into a 3-flat. At various times there have been over 20 people living there, typically there are around 15. There are 10 as I write this.

    So what kinds of issues does this create?
    – There are typically 5-8 cars for the single family home. I do not have a right to the space in front of my house on the street and it’s not a hardship to walk extra distance if they park there. But it dramatically increases the noise from things like unrepaired mufflers, kids blasting techno, and car alarms which malfunction and go off every 20 minutes. (All of which has happened.) I signed up to live in the city and expect some of this, but the frequency increases significantly when the density goes up and it becomes an irritant.

    – I believe (but can’t prove) that some of the infrastructure isn’t designed for more people. So this includes sewer, water, cable service.

    I do literally have an apartment building adjacent to my backyard, so I try not to think that I’m a NIMBY about this issue.

    I appreciate that this types of things should happen to promote affordability but my point is that a) homeowners are rational that they can feel frustrated by being resistant to change and b) that many people are OK with density as long as it isn’t next door to them.

    brian

  • It would be unbelievable if anyone claimed that there was a “renter” stereotype that diminished the quality of Rogers Park. A vast majority of the households in RP are renter-occupied! And RP is a pretty nice neighborhood.

  • You might not believe the stuff I hear asserted about RP, and renters therein, from people who now own $750K+ houses in Albany Park and used own starter condos in RP.

    I don’t believe half of it, and my knowledge of the neighborhood is significantly older and from the sketchy end.