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Seeking development without displacement

Logan Square is in some ways unique among NCP neighborhoods. It was not devastated by racial turnover and disinvestment in the post-World War II years and did not suffer huge losses of population and housing.

In this historic mid-North Side haven of the middle class, urban change has taken a different form: Rapid in-migration of Hispanic-American families during the 80s and early 90s, followed now by a wave of upscale redevelopment that is moving west from Lincoln Park. That wave is displacing hundreds of low- and moderate-income families, as the median sale price of housing rose from $235,000 in early 2001 to $325,000 by late 2004.

The current pace of displacement is not reflected by the 2005 Census estimates, which showed 71 percent Hispanics, up from 65 percent in 2000, of the neighborhood’s overall population of 84,466.

But there’s evidence in the windshield. East of California Avenue, tidy brick two-flats and ma-and-pa storefronts are yielding to townhouse complexes and condo mini-towers boasting Jacuzzi baths and terrazzo kitchens.

Here public school enrollment has plummeted, as Anglo singles and childless couples replace larger Hispanic families, many of whom are moving west, to Kedzie Avenue and beyond, in search of affordability.

Apartments still outnumbered owner-occupied units by 2 to 1 in 2000, but given the escalation of median home values, the future of rental is uncertain. Many will convert to condo, or more typically, sell to developers who will. Considerably more households had incomes above $35,000 (52 percent) in 2005 than below $15,000 (19 percent).

The NCP quality of life plan rolled out in 2005, titled "Logan Square: A Place to Stay, a Place to Grow," envisions a community with decent and affordable housing, quality schools and pre-schools, meaningful work and livable wages, and a balance between ethnic and cultural heritage, and a welcoming attitude toward the energy and diversity of newcomers.

"Logan Square is on the move," the plan reads. "But for many working families of this historic North Side neighborhood, the nagging question is whether they, too, must inevitably move. Or might it be possible to harness the mighty-but-mindless market forces moving west from the lakefront's condo belt, and use those forces to weave a new type of community?"

Please click to see John McCarron's in-depth neighborhood profile from Re:New newsletter, posted in May 2004.

To download the full quality of life plan, click here, or for a summary, click here .

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