Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Deeeeeluxe Playset In The Sky

It's Urban Planning Gone Wild! We really thought Ald. Shiller was just being flip when she said "The kids can play on the roof" when someone asked where the children in the Wilson Yard low-income family housing would play. But a reader sent in this photo. Only in Uptown and on bad Photoshopping websites do things like this appear...

"The picture is the new 'playset' in Wilson Yard, about three to four stories off the ground between the senior and low income buildings. Ald. Shiller wasn't kidding when she said the kids can play on the roof. You will now have, most likely, unsupervised kids playing on a playset (not playground), three to four stories up from ground level. Wow, that seems really safe.

Who will keep the area clean? Good question.

Some might view this as a tax paid playground. Will the other kids in the area be able to play on a slide that their parents paid for? Good question.

Will the elders like screaming kids all day long right outside the windows? Good question."


  1. Holsten better be carrying a massive liability insurance policy on these buildings...

  2. Why would he? The city has released him from any liability. It's the city that will be sued.

  3. I am f'ing speechless. SAD - and when that first kid falls off - and it will happen - remember you'll be paying for that lawsuit as well.

  4. What could possibly go wrong?!

  5. Hm.

    I do like how it's away from traffic, and away from external influences ala Bronco Billy.

    I would assume some sort of fencing would be going up on the first internal wall as an added barrier between that wall, the external wall and the space inbetween.

    From this vantage, it doesn't look like too bad of an idea, all things considered.

    Again, like anything in this city, it ain't the "what", it's the "how".

    And in the case of WY, it's the "how much" and "at what expense".

    Of all the complain-worthy things related to WY, I see this one as small taters and fairly low on the totem pole.

    Until, of course - some kid either falls, jumps, or is thrown from it.

  6. And this from a GREEN ward. Hee!. "We've got no room for playgrounds, so let's put the kids up in the middle of high rises to play, surrounded by concrete, concrete and more concrete, because we're GREEN, y'see, and all our money goes into fish farms."

  7. As long as they make it safe (a really tall fence or some sort of barrier to protect kids from falling) I actually think this is a great idea. Keeping kids away from the thugs that gather in parks like Bronco Billy just might be a first step in steering them clear of turning into thugs themselves.

    In a worst case scenario the playground would become like Bronco Billy. If that happens at least the crime will be high in the sky away from those of us who like to walk down the street without getting shot.

    And as for our taxes paying for a play ground? C'mon people. You're really going to complain that the low income kids get a playset?

    "Will the kids of the tax paying parents get to play on that playset?" Those Eddie Bauer wearing kids wouldn't want to play on that low income playset anyway...

  8. Totally stupid! It’s like an episode of the Simpsons!

  9. I see no reason to attack the idea of a rooftop playground. We regularly put swimming pools, barbecues, parking, and playsets on top of buildings in Chicago. It's a good use of space. If upon completion there is nothing to protect the children from injury, then there will be something to complain about.

    By the way, "Deeeeeluxe Playset in The Sky" is really offensive. It only reinforces the stereotype that Uptown Update is hateful.

  10. How soon before the first gang lookout with binoculars is spotted standing there at night, watching his gang's turf?

  11. Having once been a child many many many decades ago I recommend a complete barrier over the playground.

    That means wrought iron fencing even above the structure there.

    Kids being kids will find a method of getting past anything else. It's just a challenge.........

    As for the individual who thinks the "deeeeeeeeeeluse playset in the sky" comment is racist lighten up, Francis. UU is constantly making puns and allusions to old cultural icons.

    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  12. Yes. I have fond, fond memories of growing up, playing with my friends on a concrete platform surrounded by fencing, bricks and more concrete, high above the city, where I could look through the chain links to see actual grass, dirt and trees on the ground far below.

    Seriously, this is ridiculous. I remember the neighborhood strongly backing the true mixed-income housing model Holsten and Shiller originally sold to us. Where people could eventually own their homes. Where children from different backgrounds and economic statuses could meet and play, be neighbors and learn from each other. Where no one would know which units were low-income, CPAN-style, or regular-market prices.

    Instead, we've got a 100% no- to low-income project where the children who live there get to play in a concrete and fence box, with no green space, and will have no opportunity to meet anyone unlike themselves.

    And that's the BEST case scenario. I'm sure there's NOTHING that bad elements would like more than a secluded place to do their deeds and conduct their business, far from the prying eyes of passers-by and the police.

    I'd love to be proven wrong, but 20-plus years in Uptown have knocked the mindless optimism right out of me. So has the entire pack of lies we were fed by the lying liars who are Holsten and Shiller.

  13. only a matter some time before that place is going to be used as a lookout point.

  14. Irish is exactly right. They'll see a fence and the first thing that comes to their minds "how do I get over it?"

    @Sunny - I'll bet my life they'll be more kids unsupervised playing on that rooftop than there are swimming on my rooftop pool.

  15. This could explain where some of the ward's regular operating budget went...

  16. I personally think this is a great idea. The safety concerns of a playground 4 stories up are fewer, and easier to address, than some of the threats that present themselves at ground level. And I'm tired of our society's litigiousness getting in the way of enjoyment. If this is done right, the chances of something bad happening are much much smaller than the chances of the building residents getting many years of enjoyment out of the playground. I am worried about how Wilson Yard will develop, too, but some people on this blog seem to be so enraged by what has already happened that they are ready to reflexively criticize every aspect of the project.

  17. @uptown rising - come talk to me in 5 years when those buildings are destroyed and in shambles.

  18. this is like something out of a seventies-eighties movie in the bronx.

    My sister used to live across from alberteintstein hospital in the bronx in a megalith building from hell and there was this type of crap there on the tenth or so floor, it was cool in a bad way, not cool in a cool way.

    concrete jungle baby.

    this stuff doesnt age well.

  19. so it appears that in some ways uptown is the bronx of chicago
    or atleast of the northside in some ways......


    This whole super concentration of low income housing is just not a good idea.

    Hmmm. This neighborhood is kinda rough, lets add more rough stuff.....

  20. Oh man. I give this playground about ohhhh, 2 weeks before it becomes a drug and prostitution infested crap hole. Why not just add some arrow slits and day beds while we're at it.

  21. i'm mixed on this.

    in concept, i can see where it seemed like a good idea. But the reality of the situation is it will be like a prison yard.

    Its not exactly apples to apples in comparison to a roof pool or barbeque. Tenants pay for those things in assessments or rent. They have a vested interest in keeping them nice.

    This all boils down to what the #1 problem of the whole WY thing is - at this point at least - management.

    We can't undo the changes in tenant specifications or architectural design. What's gonna keep this place from becoming a hell hole is proper building management and security from day one.

    There are public housing buildings in the city that are not crime factories.

    Do we know what kind of plan is in place for management? Who will be doing it? What the restrictions are?

    Over policing can cause just as many problems by taking the responsibility off of the residents and creating a prison atmosphere. But I haven't heard anything about how these are to be managed.

    This is a place where we can actually have impact BEFORE it goes wrong

  22. d - Holsten will be managing both of the buildings. He has experience with managing low income buildings - although not with senior buildings (to my knowledge). His success rating? Not sure - I do know he operates the Bell Shore on Bryn Mawr and it seems to be a good neighbor. His website has other properties that seem well managed. WY? Time will tell.

    The real question is, will he be able to apply the same management standards he does in other wards, or will the same old low standards of the 46th ward superseed?

    He's going to have his hands full.

  23. thanks Miss Kitty. Very helpful. We'll just have to keep an eye on him.

  24. Oh man. I give this playground about ohhhh, 2 weeks before it becomes a drug and prostitution infested crap hole. Why not just add some arrow slits and day beds while we're at it.

    Sort of agree. Not to paint all the potential tenants with a broad stroke, but what better place for drug dealers to set up shop than a high rooftop where they can not only spot the cops before they even get out of their car, but scatter like roaches to their respective apartments before the cops huff and puff their way up the stairs or while they're waiting for the elevator to get up there? All it takes is a few undesireable tenants to start hanging out there before the respectible ones decide it's not worth the trouble to take their kids up there and give the entire area over to the dealers. It happens on the ground so why won't it happen there? I know they think they're utilizing valuable space, but the roof should be strictly no access for a number of reasons. If they wanted a place for the kids to play, they should have designed a restricted access playground on the ground in the initial plans instead of trying to shoehorn on in at the last minute. It's kinda tacky if you ask me.

  25. Forgot to even address the psychological aspect of having to play in a fenced-in area high above the ground with apparently no greenery. I assume that moat-like area is where the fencing is going to go.

  26. what i'm concerned about is not necessarily the residents but their "visiting" grandsons. In general the people the residents let in.

    strict security - heck, the basic security found in any high rise - is needed.

  27. I doubt anyone will fall off. Thrown off is more like it. Then it will look so much better once it has an 8 foot chain link fence has been installed around it with razor wire on the top, and the whole roof is tagged and sprayed. Feel sorry for my friends next door in their 300k condo looking down on this eyesore.

  28. Steve, they'll be looking at 450,000 dollar condos though.... maybe they shouldnt have been so cheap buying a 300,000 dollar one.

  29. That playground is about two stories above the ground. If you travel east on Montrose you can see it as you approach Broadway.

    It's right at the edge of the family building where that building almost meets the senior building.

    Essentially the extreme SW corner of the family building.

    So the height is not as bad as I imagined.

    It will be interesting to see what kind of fence our TIF dollars pay for to keep the kids from falling,jumping, being thrown off.

  30. none of the scheamatic of WY that I can find are from this perspective. All from Broadway. Anyone have plans from Montrose?

    I agree with IP, after getting a better idea of how high it is, it really isn't that bad. The "moat" around the perimeter very likely will be filled with grasses and plants.

    So I believe it will be more aesthetically pleasing than a lot of people, including myself, feared. But that does make it easier to access for non residents.

    Also, looking at how this is, it might not be the best look out spot after all. View is blocked on three sides by the apartment buildings and Target.


    You can see here where the playlot is. In the pie between the buildings.

  32. The mix of retail, restaurants, housing, and parking elements was developed through a long process of community participation organized by the Alderman and the City of Chicago.

  33. Maybe they'll plant orange trees in the "moat"

    Clean Smell Encourages Good Behavior

    Want people to act more trust-worthy, more altruistic? Try squirting a little citrus scented cleaner in the air.

  34. "This exciting community blends residential, retail and commercial space complimenting the architectural heritage of Uptown."

    Yes... this DEFINITELY compliments Uptown's architectual heritage - WTF?!?

  35. “Only in Uptown…?” Not even close. Rooftop playgrounds, basketball courts, gardens, tennis courts, etc. are quite common, especially in dense urban areas. But the allusion to the Jefferson’s theme song? Sunny on the Side is spot on about this, too. It’s over the top.

  36. You're absolutely right Suzanne...
    The Jeffersons were an upwardly mobile entrepeneurial family nothing at all like what Peter's moving into his taxpayer funded (in perpetuity)"development". It's insulting to working people everywhere.

  37. Is it possible to converse or even disagree on this blog without resorting to contemptuous sarcasm? As for the future tenants of Wilson Yards, Bradley, your assertion is preposterous. We know nothing yet of the families that will live there. And while I can understand why you may not share my or Sunny on the Side’s concern about a tasteless joke (the implication here being more racist than cultural referent), I don’t understand the consistent need to degrade others’ views.

  38. We know nothing yet of the families that will live there

    The fact that the people in the ward don't know is problematic, and is the source of much of the feelings of helplessness and frustration, which (via human nature) is what leads to this sarcasm.

    Anger and distrust fester in an informational void.

    The powers that be foster this void hoping to generate the types of knee-jerk, reactionary responses which can then be utilized to obfuscate truth and allow those powers to side-step accountability (see: Helen's response to being called a liar in front of the press).

    This is a very effective tactic and has been enacted to aggravate the under-pining social tensions which exist in any community with the hopes of generating the types of responses which can be categorized as "racist", or "classist" or .. whatever.

    Short version: we're being played.

    Everyone is entitled to express their point of view as they see fit; however, I would caution folks to consider the long-term ramifications of their statements within the context of the larger game at hand.

    A lot of us have fallen prey to this, and ... well, time to reconsider.

  39. there is a potential of self fulfilling proficy here.

    I'm not Pollyanna, but there are more shades than perfect and hell hole. let's not let this place go bad because we assume "of course it will"

    High expectations and vigilant attention will do much more to keep things as they should be than bitching and chicken littling.

    I understand that this is not a typical project in size and disclosure, but there are many (more so than not) public housing buildings that serve their intended purpose and are viable additions to the community.

  40. Sorry...I just couldn't really lobbed a softball there. In fact, we do know, unequivocally, that these $400K+ units, built at taxpayer expense in an area where the median home value is $279K, will be going to extremely-low, very-low, and low-income people. (Typically not upwardly mobile entrepeneurs.) Anecdotally, I hear several "generations" living in subsidized housing for every transitional situation. I'm sure there are real socialogical studies out there. Would anyone care to enlighten us on the situation? What's the turn-over at public housing? What caused the turn-over? Job? Natural death? Overdose/violent death? What's the mean duration of housing assistance? I've read recently of the displaced, (Robert Taylor or Cabrini?) who've lived there their entire lives and their parents lived there their entire lives.

    What Peter's got here is a property paid for by the taxpayers (remember he TIF? $54mm city money, no liability for the $100mm debt) with a guaranteed revenue stream. I do hope he and Helen will be holding an open house so we can see what we've bought.

  41. I think everyone just needs to lighten up a bit. Of course perhaps some of you may consider that to be a racial comment.

    Sometimes in times of strife you just gotta go Bonzo.