Yesterday morning dozens of community residents and members of the Autonomous Tenants Union, Somos Logan Square, and Grassroots Illinois Action joined tenants of the 2340 N. California building in Logan Square as they announced their plans to fight their impending eviction.
Current landlord Francisco Macias plans to sell the two-story, mixed-use structure, located a few hundred feet north of the California Blue Line station, to Savoy Development so that it can be bulldozed to make room for an upscale, 138-unit transit-oriented development. At the press event, protesters brandished signs with messages like “We are still here and we’re not leaving” and “I am the face of eviction.”
Macias has served the tenants, who were on month-to-month leases, with 30-day eviction notices. First Ward alderman Joe Moreno approve a zoning change for the TOD, and City Council approved Savoy’s proposal in June. Savoy owner Enrico Plati hopes to break ground by the end of the year, once he receives a demolition permit from the city. However, the current residents’ plans to contest the eviction may significantly delay construction.
At the press conference, residents talked about how the evictions will negatively impact their lives. Adelina Silva, a senior, was noticeably shaken as she spoke. “We haven’t been able to find a place to go and I just got my foot operated on,” she said in Spanish. “I don’t know where we’ll go.”
The as-yet-unnamed high-rise is part of a wave of transit-friendly construction along the Milwaukee Avenue corridor that was largely spurred by the city’s transit-oriented development ordinance, which was originally passed in 2013 and was strengthened last year. The legislation eliminates parking minimums and allows for higher density at locations near rapid transit stops, which helps decrease car-dependency for the residents of the new buildings.
For example, under the old zoning rules, the Savoy development would have needed to provide 138 off-street parking spaces – one for each unit. Under the TOD ordinance Plati is opting to only build 44 parking spots, which significantly reduces construction costs. It also means fewer cars will be brought to the neighborhood, reducing congestion and pollution.
However, the vast majority of the new TODs are upscale buildings with high rents, and anti-gentrification activists say they are fueling the displacement of low-income and working-class residents from Logan Square by raising property values, property taxes, and rents. On the other hand, groups such as the Metropolitan Planning Council have argued that building more market-rate housing in gentrifying neighborhoods takes pressure off the rental market and helps prevent existing apartment buildings from being replaced by single-family homes.
Last April Somos Logan Square and Lifted Voices held a protest against two TOD projects located southeast on Milwaukee from the 2340 N. California building. The 216-unit “MiCa” development, also called the Twin Towers, with 56 parking spaces, is about to start moving in residents. Rents start at around $1,595 for a studio and go as high as $3,350 for a three-bedroom. The nearby “L” apartment building, with 120 units and 60 parking spots, has rental prices ranging from $1,575 for a studio to $3,900 for the most expensive three-bedrooms.