LOSS: The Demolition of Unprotected Pilsen Buildings Resumes

“The owners of a trio of vintage buildings on 18th Street in Pilsen are the first to take out demolition permits under the city’s new anti-gentrification plan that tacks $15,000 onto the existing cost of taking out a permit.

“The Chicago City Council in late March approved the surcharge for demolitions in most of Pilsen and along the western reaches of the 606 Trail as a way to slow gentrification that displaces long-term residents.

“The fees—totaling $45,000 for this row of three buildings—will go to the Chicago Community Land Trust to help create long-term owner-occupied affordable housing in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.

“The $45,000 ‘will bring benefits to our community that this development wouldn’t have brought in’ prior to the new rules, said Pilsen-area Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez, 25th.

“The $15,000-per-building fee will act as a disincentive to demolition in some cases, Sigcho-Lopez said, but ‘these developers saw it would still be profitable for them, with the fees.’

“The three buildings contain a total of 17 apartments, according to the Cook County Assessor. Built between 1894 and 1914, they are on a block of mostly the same vintage. A new replacement building would be the first on the block since the middle of the 20th century, from the look of the neighboring structures. In a four-block stretch of 18th Street, there are only three or four structures built in the 21st century.

“It’s the second attempt at demolition for these three buildings. In 2019, Fox executives withdrew a plan to raze the buildings, according to Block Club Chicago, and said they would rehab the structures instead.

“At the time, the city was considering landmarking a swath of Pilsen containing hundreds of buildings in an attempt to slow gentrification. If the owners of these three buildings had pursued demolition, city officials would have been forced to make a quick decision on the landmark district proposal.

“Now that Fox has switched its plan back to demolition, Sigcho-Lopez said he is disappointed but ‘not surprised’ and reiterated that he believes the $45,000 contribution toward affordable housing “does something that is needed in the community.”

“Fox bought the three buildings in June 2016 for $950,000, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. They appear to have been vacant since 2019, when the Sun-Times reported a gift shop that had been in the center building for 19 years was closing so the buildings could be demolished.” (Rodkin, Crain’s Chicago Business, 5/10/21)

Read the full story at Crain’s Chicago Business

Pilsen demolitions resume with anti-gentrification fees attached; The owners of a trio of buildings on 18th Street are the first to pay the $15,000-per-building surcharge, with the money going toward affordable housing, Dennis Rodkin, Crain’s Chicago Business, 5/10/21

Death of a Pilsen gift shop, Carlos Ballesteros, Chicago Sun-Times, 3/3/19

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