Residents perturbed about Logan Square developments


Courtesy of Wheeler Kearns Architects

A Twin Towers project, located at 2211 N. Milwaukee Ave., is shooting for completion by the end of 2016.

By Metro Reporter

Construction of new developments on the 2200 block of Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square is raising concerns among residents regarding affordable housing availability and gentrification in the neighborhood, according to the office of Alderman Proco Joe Moreno (1st Ward) and Logan Square residents.

One development, a dual-towered rental complex located at 2293 N. Milwaukee Ave. broke ground in November and will include two 11- and 12-story buildings featuring more than 200 apartments, said Raymond Valadez, chief of staff to Moreno.

A second development, the “L” building, began construction in April near the towers at 2211 N. Milwaukee Ave. It is going to feature 120 new luxury units with monthly rent starting at $1,500 for two bedrooms, while rents at the dual-towers will start at $1,250 for a studio apartment and $2,500 for two bedrooms.

The “L” project is scheduled to be completed by Summer 2016 while the dual towers project is set to be finished at the end of 2016.

While Logan Square residents have expressed concerns that the developments will further gentrify the neighborhood, Moreno’s office claims the developments will foster more diversity.

“We think these new developments along Milwaukee Avenue are going to be an overall positive for the community,” Valadez said.

Valadez said the developments would be constructed on lots that have been vacant since the 2008 financial collapse, and the neighborhood has received many proposals for developments on Milwaukee Avenue since 2013.

“It’s going to help repopulate the community,” Valadez said. “It’s going to bring in new people and new energy, especially to those commercial streets that have been underdeveloped and vacant for many years.”

Andrew Schneider, president of Logan Square Preservation, a nonprofit organization that has opposed almost  all projects proposed for Logan Square that reduce the number of residential units, said he aims to ensure the projects can complement the existing community by bringing in a diverse group.

Schneider said Milwaukee Avenue houses many vintage buildings that feature affordable housing. The new developments not only clash with the historic architecture, but also threaten their survival, he said.

Schneider said the lots for the developments were deliberately kept vacant to encourage dense upzonings, the practice of changing an area usually from a residential use to a commercial one.

“The owners of property sometimes tear down a building and they just wait,” Schneider said. “They allow it to become light of the property tax bill [that] goes down until the community’s sick of it.”

Scott Wilson, a graduate student instructor for Columbia’s Writing and Rhetoric classes who has lived in Logan Square since 2011, said he thinks the problem is that developers build huge, expensive buildings. They tend to drive up the rent for the area around it, which has no rent control.

“What’s going to happen is the same thing that happened to Wicker Park. As soon as these luxury buildings came in, the rent just went up for the whole area and it completely pushed out everybody who couldn’t afford it,” Wilson said.