Friday, June 5, 2009

Forbes: "The End of Gentrification?"

Forbes Magazine recently held a round table discussion about gentrification, and the moderator lives right here in Uptown.

Urban gentrification has been a fact of life for two decades. But can it last, and if so where? Our real estate experts have the answers.

[Stephane Fitch]: Let's do a little full disclosure. Where do each of you live? Speaking for myself, I live in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood. Still, lots of gentrification needed in Uptown, I think it's fair to say. It's the classic gentrification play. But none of my neighbors thinks the gentrification will continue where I live. Not with the nicer neighborhood just to my south, called Lakeview, looking more nearly affordable for modestly well-off professionals.

Read the entire discussion here.

Update: Read another article in reaction to the Forbes piece here, in the Chicago77 real estate blog.


  1. Gentrification created the buildings we are living in now...

  2. "Of course, the major prevailing issue that could undermine that is if crime goes up in those areas, then that could slow down that demand."

    Don't think for a second that good old Helen has not known this for 15 years. If she interferes with law enforcement just enough mostly under the radar, she may be able to slow down gentrification so she can grab some of the land through varies means and put in more "affordable housing." This is where TIFS, and some of the local SS agencies have come in. Thank God for UU because it is much more difficult for her to do this now. But Forbes could do a study here just comparing N,S and E of her ward to the surrounding wards to prove this point.

  3. Helen has managed to scortch a lot of earth in Uptown, and it will take years to overcome. That is why Uptown has been "up and coming for over 20 years." It just quite never gets there. The blame can be placed squarely in her lap for parts of the ward still being a dump.

    I fear our retail corridors will never fully develop until we get her out of office. "If" Target comes, I think it might spur a little more development on Broadway, but that will remain to be seen.

    And looking towards the 2011 election, I had an interesting conversation with a friend last night. She lives in Lakeview and gandered up here to admire the Uptown Broadway Building. She noted how great that immediate area is but how south of Leland is a dump. She had NO clue that north of Leland (on Bdwy) belonged to Mary Ann Smith.

    I fear that a lot of new Uptown residents or 46th Ward Lakeview residents (if they ever come up here) think the sections that have gentrified in Smith's ward, are actually in Helen's ward and due her efforts. If they think that, why wouldn't they vote for her? They probably figure she's "working" on making the rest of the ward just as nice. Its all about educating the masses, and thankfully UU is helping in that effort.

    Wish we could post signs at Leland saying "Entering Helen's Cesspool" going south and "Entering Mary Ann's Developing Ward" to the north...

  4. not only did gentrification CREATE some of the buildings in which we are living now, it is PAYING for the schiller slum known as wilson yard.

    if only she could acknowledge/realize/understand that the money brought into the community by the tax paying, gentrifying demographic pays for these community projects and look out for the interests of everyone equally - wait a minute... what the f*** am i thinking!? she will NEVER realize that.

  5. I hate the word "gentrification." It is a meaningless term that fails to describe any precise process, condition or situation. In terms of clarity, it is a little bit like "pornography" which even a Supreme Court justice had to define as "I know it when I see it."

    Instead, I think it would be more fruitful for people to start talking about and thinking about what a socio-economically diverse community should aim for. All the talk these days is about "sustainable" this or that but we hardly ever try to think about what is sustainable and balanced in terms of our communities.

    Most people seem to value having diverse communities in the abstract but then have no idea how to achieve them. In theory, mixed communities should benefit all but in order for something sustainable to develop, everyone needs to have a fair seat at the table in an open and democratic way.

    IMHO, Uptown's power structure claims to represent the best interests of the people but how can it? There are absolutely no activities taking place to suggest that people are sharing ideas and collaborating across differences. In most cases, we're all "speaking to the choir." This MUST change in order for something sustainable to be created.

  6. With this building across the street how am I ever going to sell my place? Although I wonder if they included that this place was a public urinal before the rehab in the brocher?

  7. I live on the edge of of the Uptown. I am lucky yet the garbage can did not overflow yet around the Marine Drive area & Montrose but its a coming. I Think once we dump Helen and her staff our we can once agin work together to make our Uptown a safe and healthy area to live.....

  8. I'm giving up on Uptown. It may get there someday, but I'm not waiting around for it to happen. When the bus stop across from your building gets shot out in a drive by by gang members in the early evening hours, it's time to move.

  9. By gentrification, people really mean social cleansing, whereby people of a lower social class are driven from the area where they had been living so the new better off residents don't have to see poor people and how they live in order to survive. Not much different than ethnic cleansing, though no violence is used.

  10. Sean, what books or magazine articles would you recommend to people on the topic of gentrification? What informs your opinion?

    I agree that economic displacement is real. However, I don't think this is a new process (gentrification is a relatively new term) and at least in Uptown I think the wrong people are "blamed." Did you see that other thread about Shiller helping the condo developer despite the community's wishes?

    When you're talking about gentrification, you're talking about city/regional/global causes that get played out here. If there is something to get angry about, I think it should be about people who don't care to know this area's history or its struggles and just want to benefit from changes geared towards them. However, I think there is lots of room on UU (and in general in Uptown) to discuss those kinds of things. I don't remember ever having been shot down here or any place else raising those issues. The key is to be willing to vet any dogmatic thinking of your own and to expect resistance with some grace...not because people are selfish and evil but because what you are saying doesn't fall squarely in line with how they are thinking about the world & how it works. It doesn't mean people can't come around to your points, it just means you are starting the conversation from very different places. Thus, more care and effort needs to go into trying to overcome that obstacle.

  11. NPR had a series about the high percentage of school drop outs and there were plenty of interviews of kids who dropped out. They all lived in high poverty areas and all had little social and family support.

    One kid who was at high risk for dropping out spent one day at Whitney Young which has a 2% drop out rate. This same kid who acted like a big bully was now calmly interacting with other kids at this other school. He was stunned at being in a math class where students wanted to learn.

    I don't think kids in poverty are bad kids, but I do believe there's a culture of poverty that throws up road blocks for them, and God knows they have plenty of roadblocks.

    Call it gentrification or call it revitalization, but we're doing the poor no favors by having their kids attend schools with extremely high rates of poverty. Yes, there are some schools with high poverty rates that do well, but they are much more the exception than the rule.

    So Sean, go on and try to create a class war and divide the community, but you're not fooling me into thinking that you are some advocate for the poor.