I want to save a historic Chicago home. I’m up against developers who would rather raze it

“Developers say replacing single-family homes with condos creates more housing,” writes Betsy Mikel. “Housing for whom? As the character of a neighborhood changes, more people get pushed out.” | Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Chicago is losing its historic homes at an alarming rate. The city places few restrictions on developers with bulldozers and deep pockets.

When I pulled the creaky front door shut, the bungalow’s weathered door knob popped off in my hand. I ran my fingers over its grooves. It felt heavy in my palm as I weighed the fate of this historic home in Avondale.

The old house needed significant work, but it was within my budget. The one-story brick bungalow was structurally sound with many original features intact. With time and care, I could bring it back to life. I envisioned sipping my morning coffee as light danced through the leaded stained glass windows.

That is, if someone didn’t outbid me who would tear it down. Someone who saw more value in the land than in preserving the home’s built-ins, beautiful millwork and hardwood floors.

Chicago is losing its historic homes at an alarming rate. People like me are losing the chance to preserve them. Only landmark buildings and Chicago Landmark Districts are protected from demolition. The city places few restrictions on developers with bulldozers and deep pockets. Those of us who want to invest our time and money into saving old homes can’t compete.

Developers say replacing single-family homes with condos creates more housing. Housing for whom? Students, early-career professionals and working class families can’t afford luxury condos. Those developers are after profit, not serving the people in the community. New construction means premium real estate prices. It ultimately leads to higher property taxes that can become untenable for long-time residents. As the character of the …read more

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Source:: Chicago Sun Times

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