Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Changing Face of Chicago neighborhoods

Since I talked yesterday about the Burling Street controversy I thought I continue down that same vein today. I can't say I don't like to fuel the fire, but even I sometimes have very mixed feelings about some of the changes many of the Chicago neighborhoods are undergoing. The Chicago Tribune recently had two side-by-side stories, one on the loss of single family homes to condos and the other on the new high-rise meca known as Lakeshore East. They really express the dichotomy that exists. Not everyone wants or needs a single family nor can they necessarily afford the single family, so condos are the alternative. In particular neighborhoods, like West Town and Bucktown, there are many workman cottages or bungalows. They're small and often well kept homes, but their biggest drawback is they are small and expansion is limited. Many long time residents also feel that with the loss of these structures that the sense of community is disappearing with them. Then on the other side of the spectrum you have Lakeshore East, a 28 acre parcel located between the Loop and the Lake. It is expected to house a staggering 15,000 residents when it's complete. There has been an effort to create an neighborhood among the pedways, triple deck streets, and the six acre park at it's center. For some it will certainly not fit their definition of a neighborhood, but for an area that was formally occupied by railroad tracks it's certainly an improvement. The common threads through both these stories are that whether it's the city or the aldermans, I think many feel that there is not enough foresight by either group into the long-term results of these changes. There are many residents out there that don't like the change, don't want to see their neighbors that they've know for half their life leaving, and who came blame them. Ultimately, I know that it's all about the lifestyle you desire and I believe that this is what fuels and will continue to fuel the controversy over Chicago's real estate.