Posts tagged with "Pilsen":

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New development in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood aims to staunch gentrification

While Chicago has not faced the same levels of displacement due to gentrification as cities like New York and San Francisco, a number of its neighborhoods are experiencing rapid shifts in population and demographics. In particular, neighborhoods like Pilsen on the city’s near South Side, historically home to a large Mexican population, are being eyed by developers as the next hot neighborhood, worrying long-time residents. In at least one case, though, the developers are listening to local concerns and attempting to mitigate any tensions that may arise in the vulnerable neighborhood.

ParkWorks, a proposed 7.85-acre development in the heart of Pilsen, is taking special care—architecturally and administratively—to work with the neighborhood. On the developer’s side, Property Markets Group (PMG) organized a number of community meetings to hear from the people who will be most affected by the new multibuilding mixed-use complex. Rather than the typical presentation followed by a question-and-answer session, the meetings could better be described as public critiques. Presentation boards and texts were displayed, with developers and architects on hand to discuss the issues on a more personal level with area’s residents. Yet the community involvement is planned to extend past these initial meetings.

When complete, the project, which will include hundreds of new residential units, will provide a higher percentage of affordable housing than any other private development in Chicago, according to PMG. The development also plans to employ local residents: Two-thirds of the development’s staff will be hired from within the neighborhood, and businesses moving into any of the 10,000 square feet of retail space in the development will be given a 20 percent discount on rent if they hire one-third or more of their staff from the surrounding community. During construction, an employment center is set to be opened on the project’s site to help enable more local employment. Recognizing the area’s demographics, much of the proposal’s communications have also been bilingual, in English and Spanish.

While the developers managed local relations, the project’s architects and planners, Chicago-based Cordogan, Clark & Associates, have worked to provide for the existing community through design. Notably, 50 percent of the development has been set aside for open green space. This includes courtyards and transverse walkways through the site. The heart of the buildings’ campus will also include an “arts walk” along South Peoria Avenue, which bisects the site. The property is also immediately adjacent to the future Paseo Trail, an urban linear park being developed on a former rail line.

Density is often an indicating factor in gentrification, with either swift drops or increases signifying drastic uncontrolled change. In the case of ParkWorks, the project is filling two large, completely empty tracts of land. Thanks to the large amount of open space in the plan, its density will be slightly lower than the surrounding neighborhood. While this will be a net gain for the neighborhood’s density, it is as if the site were filled with the typical two-flats that populate most of the neighborhood.

There is no question that Pilsen, and many neighborhoods like it, are changing. While as a whole Chicago’s population is declining, white millennials are flocking to the city, affecting the demographics and density of particular areas. Many new city dwellers are the adult children of a generation that fled the city to the suburbs starting in the 1960s, making room for the communities that now define Chicago. So, when any development is built, it will undoubtedly attract residents from outside the existing community—it is an experiment in social integration. For the good of the city, and its many diverse communities, one can only hope that experiments like ParkWorks are successful.

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Five gathering spaces announced for Chicago’s lakefront

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago Park District ,and the Field Museum of Natural History have revealed five designs that will be implemented along a stretch of South Side lakefront as part of the Field Museum’s “Roots and Routes” initiative. The five “gathering spaces” were the result of an RFP issued by the Park District and the Field Museum to artist and community organizations. Located in the 100-acre ribbon of The Burnham Wildlife Corridor (BWC), the spaces will be integrated into a series of paths which will connect neighboring communities to Lake Michigan through the largest stretch of natural landscape along Chicago’s lakefront. “These gathering spaces along the south lakefront are part of our effort to give children and residents in every neighborhood the opportunity to learn about nature and to enjoy and experience nature right in their own backyard,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “These unique gathering spaces will add to the vibrancy of Chicago’s south lakefront while helping to inspire the next generation to preserve and protect Chicago’s natural wonders.” The BWC extends from the McCormick Bird Sanctuary, just south of the McCormick Place convention center to the Burnham Sanctuary near 49th Street. “The objective of the Burnham Wildlife Corridor is to create healthy, vibrant and native habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife; and to meaningfully connect visitors, especially those from neighboring communities, to a revitalized public green space in ways that inspire exploration, enjoyment, and stewardship of the area,” said Chicago Park District Superintendent and CEO Mike Kelly. “We are pleased to partner with these organizations to create spaces where community members can gather and take advantage of nature in this bustling city.” The teams involved with the projects include local artists and community organizations, with ties to the Bronzeville, Chinatown, and Pilsen neighborhoods. The organizations include the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago, Bronzeville Community Development Partnership, the South Side Community Art Center, and Pilsen-based Contratiempo and Casa Michoacán. The gathering spaces are also one part of the Mayor’s "Building on Burnham" initiative, a comprehensive plan to invest in the Lakefront, the Chicago River, and recreational areas in neighborhoods throughout city.
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Long-vacant grain silos in Chicago up for auction, future uncertain

One of Chicago's most visible rust-belt remnants is up for sale, just in time for its cameo in the Transformers 4 movie. The derelict Santa Fe grain elevator has been a favorite hangout for squatters, graffiti artists and ruin-porn enthusiasts since 1977, when a fire and explosion ended 70 years of industrial history there. Crain's reports the state of Illinois is going to sell the riverside collection of concrete silos at 2900 South Damen Avenue in an online auction beginning November 2. Seven years after a previous attempt to sell the abandoned property for $17.3 million, Rick Levin & Associates (acting on behalf of the state Department of Central Management Services) has dropped the minimum ask to $3.8 million. The long-defunct monolith has become one of Chicago's unsung landmarks—a particularly visible beacon of industrial grit in an area of the southwest side with no shortage of such relics. Lynn Becker has a thoughtful analysis of the property's significance on Architecture Chicago Plus, and in 2010 David Witter wrote a modern history of Chicago's grain elevator for NewCity. As anyone who has read William Cronon's Nature's Metropolis knows, Chicago's explosive growth in the late 19th century is due as much to its grain elevators as to its famous railroads and stockyards. It's likely this particular link to Chicago's industrial heyday will be razed if it finds a new buyer, but given residential and retail development has picked up in the nearby neighborhoods of Bridgeport and Pilsen, it's possible other uses could be considered. Its position along the Sanitary and Ship Canal, which connects to the Chicago River, may prove a valuable selling point—and not just as a means to convey grain in and municipal waste out.
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Power Stations, Polish Church, West Side SRO Make Preservation Chicago’s “Most Threatened” Buildings List

Preservation Chicago released its annual “Most Threatened” historic buildings list, which includes two early 20th-century power stations that were part of the city's now-defunct coal plant corridor on the southwest side. The Fisk and Crawford power stations date from 1903 and 1926, when steam engine turbines as large as the ones in use in Chicago were a rare feat of engineering. The Madison/Wabash “El” stop, a lumbering box of metal housing a busy downtown transit stop, could indeed use some attention. Nearby Loop gems like the Carson Pirie Scott building down the street have received as much. Here’s the full list, also available on the preservation group’s website:
  1. St. Adalbert Catholic Church
  2. Crawford, Fisk Power Houses
  3. Guyon Hotel
  4. Francis Scott Key Public School
  5. Madison/Wabash Station House
St. Adalbert Roman Catholic Church, a renaissance revival house of worship in Pilsen, also made the list. The 185-foot twin towers of St. Adalbert are the highest structures in Pilsen. Now predominantly Latino, the neighborhood was settled by immigrants from Eastern Europe—mass at St. Adalbert is offered in English, Spanish, and Polish.
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Video>Scaling A Smoke Stack

Two dirty coal powered electric plants in central Chicago are coming under increasing scrutiny from neighbors, environmental activists, and architects and designers. Earlier this week Greenpeace activists scaled the stacks of the Pilsen plant operated by Midwest Generation, and painted a large sign calling for their closure. The plants were also the subject of a recent design competition, the results of which will be on display on June 10 at the Pilsen/Chicago Arts District and on June 13-15 at the Merchandise Mart during NeoCon.
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Design Deeply But Maybe Don′t Breathe Deeply

Chicago may boast one of the country's largest urban solar installations, but it's also home to two polluting coal-fired power plants, the Fisk Generating Station in Pilsen and the Crawford Generating Station in Little Village both operated by Midwest Generation. The two plants emit toxins and advocates say they contribute to elevated asthma rates in those neighborhoods. A new competition ask designers propose solutions to the problem, which could be anything from educational campaigns to remediation strategies. Sponsored by Design Makes Change, the ideas competition calls for "hyperlocal" strategies and asks designers to select specific sites within the neighborhoods, such as an individual school or a healthcare facility. The winner will receive $2000 of seed money toward implementing their proposal. For more listings, head over to our competitions page.