[dropcap]O[/dropcap]n June 4, the Pilsen Alliance held a meeting at the Rudy Lozano Public Library, where residents from Pilsen and areas all over Chicago took part in a discussion regarding plans for a new 500-unit luxury apartment complex. The property is owned by the Jesuits and is located between 16th and 18th streets and Newberry Avenue and Peoria Street.
The rental project was proposed by Property Markets Group (PMG), a New York City-based real estate acquisition and development firm that currently has 500 rental units in the Logan Square neighborhood, according to its website.
The development may bring about new jobs, resources and housing but Pilsen’s community members are worried that these luxury apartments may also mean higher property taxes and a hike in rent, which will push many lower income residents out of the neighborhood.
There was a mix of people present at the open meeting. Most were older Latinos who grew up in the neighborhood and are still present in Pilsen, as well as those who used to live in the area and moved out but continue to care about what happens to the community. There were also new non-Latinos just coming into the area who were preoccupied with what this new development could bring to the community.
Long term resident Lucy Gutierrez was visibly upset about the possibility of these apartments and the changes it could bring. She also spoke about the fact that very few details about the proposed project have been brought to light by the Jesuits and Ald. Danny Solis, who is also a chairman of the Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards.
“My question to these developers is: how much of this housing are you going to give to the people in the community? How many to the senior citizens? All these things have to be brought to the table.”
An academic presentation took place at the beginning of the meeting with DePaul University Professor Euan Hague who presented a study on the community. The presentation showed how property prices have risen in the area due to real estate developments and demographic changes.
Byron Sigcho, board member of the Pilsen Alliance, said one of the things they’re trying to do is create a dialogue. “The [Jesuits] have a lot to say about this so we ask everybody to participate and find a way to have a dialogue that’s going to help us. They cannot keep telling us to go talk to the developers,” he said.
Gutierrez stated that she gets several letters a week offering her money for her building. “We worked hard to buy that building. I’m not giving it up. Your community is only as strong as you want it to be. If you don’t want [the luxury units], you tell them no,” she said.
The meeting ended in uncertain terms, with many questions remaining unanswered. There will be a meeting regarding the Pilsen Housing preservation on June 16 in Little Village.
This post is also available in: Spanish