Gentrification today

Mary Schmich in “the Tribune”:,1,3865394.column?coll=chi-business-hed points out that gentrification’s ghosts leave behind a fuzzy, indeterminate context:

There are other ghosts, too, old people I used to see ambling on the sidewalks. Occasionally the ghost of one will appear for no apparent reason except to say, “Hey, you hadn’t even noticed I was gone.” They’re right. Walking past the palazzos I can’t always remember what was there before, or who.

John Greenfield once pointed this out: when a building or store disappears, even if it was something you saw every day for years, its memory fades alarmingly rapidly. Obviously, grandmother’s house or the daily bakery are exceptions, but I’ve noticed it countless times.

In Pilsen, the “latest flare in the gentrification battles”:,1,2295748.story?coll=chi-business-hed appears to be a loft conversion by Steve Lipe. Lipe has done quite a bit of groundwork (negotiating early on with a local CDC, not advertising the project outside the community, hiring Latino sales staff, and rehabbing an abandoned building so as not to displace any residents in densely populated Pilsen) but he nonetheless provides an easy target for easily confused, angry activists.

bq. Balderas, a project opponent, acknowledged that many residents would view the project more favorably if the newcomers were of Mexican descent, but just because the potential homebuyers are Hispanics who made good doesn’t mean that they should take precedence over longtime residents, she said. “We’re the ones who did all the hard work to make Pilsen a better place. But we’re not going to benefit from it. They are,” Balderas said.

bq. Chantico Lofts has caused a split among advocates of affordable housing. Some say Pilsen residents should fight developers tooth-and-nail while others want to become partners to create mixed-income projects.