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'F**K Yr Coffee': Vandals Tag Little Village Cafe Amid Gentrification Anxieties

By Stephen Gossett in News on Oct 2, 2017 9:59PM

A storefront in Little Village that is being made into a cafe was tagged with graffiti over the weekend. The vandalism—which read "F**K YR COFFEE G.T.F.O.L.V.," presumably meaning "Get the F**k Out of Little Village"—was scrawled as anxieties over gentrification continue to remain an issue in the neighborhood.

The vandalism was spotted over the weekend at 2909 W. Cermak Rd. A corner storefront features signage for Sip 22, though the coffee shop has yet to debut. Photos of the tagging were also circulated on social media. A user who posted about it on Reddit said the graffiti was reported to Streets and Sanitation at around 11 a.m. on Sunday.

Via Facebook

Aside from the retail storefront, the building also includes residential units. Justin Tate lives above Sip 22 and said the coffee shop will "hands down" be an accelerant of gentrification in the historically Mexican enclave and criticized how the property manager, Paul Tsakiris, president of First Western Properties, has interacted with community members. "I'm sure he will face a lot more resistance when he opens for business and the people will have had a chance to interact with him," Tate told Chicagoist.

Elissa Marcus, who said she served as building manager until Sept. 30, said she was not surprised that the cafe-to-be was the target of vandalism. There is already a significant anti-gentrification sentiment in the neighborhood, and Tsakiris should use the incident as an opportunity to more directly engage those who live in the area, Marcus told Chicagoist.

Tsakiris however insisted that he had not encountered any negative criticism or tension ahead of this weekend's graffiti. "We’ve got nothing but positive feedback," he told Chicagoist, describing the incident as "a one-off."

Tsakiris said that there's already work going on with the community, including attending CAPS meetings and engaging local artists and said that the "nice, neutral use" provided by a cafe is an amenity lacking in the immediate area.

In 2015, the now-shuttered Bow Truss coffee shop in nearby Pilsen—a neighborhood that has undergone rapid redevelopment in recent years—was targeted by anti-gentrification vandals.

Further north, the historically Puerto Rican neighborhood Humboldt Park saw similar episodes carried out against the now-closed Grandma J's that same year.

Sip 22 will likely open in November or December, Tsakiris said.

Via Facebook