Monday, March 30, 2015

Controversial Crain's article on Lincoln Park population debunked?

Crain's published a much debated article on "population loss" in Lincoln Park this week. 

Looks good to me! Views from the Lincoln Park Conservatory of Lincoln Park West's mini skyline. All photos Eric Rojas, Broker, Kale Realty
Many Crain's reader comments lament the population woes throwing the Alderman, pensions, zoning procedures, NIMBY's.  In short, most people's gut reaction was gloom and doom for the "dead zone" that is Lincoln Park.  There is clearly room for better process in zoning and development in Chicago overall. However, the "pile on" to the article is surprising.

Why do so many reader comments on the Crain's story feel the city is doomed based on Lincoln Park (and other affluent north side neighborhoods of the city) population?

Read a measured counter point from
Crain's deeply misleading article on Lincoln Park's population loss

Lincoln Park 2550, the 218 unit luxury building at 2550 N Lakeview, Chicago IL 60614 was completed (on the site of a former parking garage) well after the 2010 census.
The Crain's author makes a lot of assumptions, and in my opinion, is unrealistic in terms of accessibility of real estate in general.  It is unrealistic for anyone to be able to afford any community they desire at any given time. This goes for tony suburbs and vacation spots as well. The author also assumes Lincoln Park to be more desirable to most people than other parts of the city (or suburbs I guess).  It also assumes that a large population that wants to live there is priced out.

Here's where the author's observation that the Lincoln park population is declining morphs into his larger argument:

"The fact that Chicago's affluent North Side communities have lost so many people and aren't gaining them back is a huge problem for many local businesses, current residents of moderate means and anyone who would like to move there but can't afford to.

But even if none of that describes you, it's also a problem for those of us who'd like to see City Hall have more resources to invest in other parts of the city, from policing, to schools, to transit, to road repair. It's a problem for those of us who'd like to see more jobs created within commuting distance of Chicago communities where unemployment is endemic. It's a problem, in other words, for all of us."

Webster Square rental apartments has added 75 units alone after the 2010 census.  100 more units are coming with the construction of an adjacent condo building.

The Children's Memorial site re-development will add more than 700 units to Lincoln Park. My guess is we may see a population increase in Lincoln Park from 2010 to 2020 with the likely addition of at least 1,500 new units. All photos Eric Rojas, Broker, Kale Realty

 There are no statistics cited correlating Lincoln Parks population "decline" (again, it's actually increased from 1980-2010 by 12% and has lost only 206 people from 2000-2010 according to with a decline of tax base or sapping resources for the entire city.  There are no statistics cited that suggest Lincoln Park was better off when it's population was around 100,000 in 1950 rather than with today's steady 64,000. From YoChicago: 

Anyone who’s familiar with the history of Lincoln Park knows that large parts of the neighborhood had fallen into slum conditions by the 1950s and 1960s. Many of its properties were overcrowded, in part due to illegal conversions, in part due to an almost complete lack of new construction from the beginning of the depression-era to the years immediately after World War II. The City used urban renewal funds to clear some of the worst areas, including what is now Oz Park and the large townhome developments north of North Ave. 

Is there a problem in Chicago where you have impoverished neighborhoods with less economic development and resources? Yes and it's as serious and alarming as at any time.  However, I don't think the population trend of Lincoln Park (and other "affluent" neighborhoods) is the deterrent to development throughout the city. 

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