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Uptown Battles Over Wilson Yard

By vouchey in News on Aug 23, 2004 12:28PM

8-23-04-wilson-yard.gifUptown, traditionally defined by Foster Avenue, Irving Park Road, Lake Michigan and Clark Street, has gone through a great deal of change over the past ten years. Once one of Chicago's seedier neighborhoods, it has long been primarily a home for tattoo parlors, dive bars, and single room occupancy hotels. But as Lincoln Park, Lakeview and then Andersonville and Rogers Park began to pick up, Uptown's proximity to the Red Line and Lake Michigan became irresistable to developers.

Slowly development began to come to the area with a new Borders on Lawrence and Broadway, and then the Buena Pointe condos on Wilson and Broadway. But these are just projects around the edges. The real apple of developers' eye is the five acre Wilson Yard area, a former CTA train yard running along Broadway, and bordering Truman College.

Ten years ago, when planning for Wilson Yard began, Uptown was a bit poorer and affordable housing was something most residents could easily agree on. But today, after a few people have bought into $335,000 condos at Buena Park, and property values have gone up generally, a planned 90-unit low-income apartment building doesn't seem to be top priority.

Many of the new residents, organized into the Uptown Neighborhood Council have signed an on-line petition against the housing development, and a loud, angry public hearing almost seems guaranteed. Watch for the old 'hood residents to come charging at the new in weeks to come.