“A City Council committee on December 1, 2020 shot down a controversial plan to create one of the city’s largest landmark districts in the Pilsen neighborhood, after the local alderman and many people in the neighborhood expressed fears the proposal would exacerbate gentrification and force low-income families out of their homes.
“The proposed Pilsen Landmark District would have given landmark status to more than 900 Baroque-style buildings constructed between 1875 and 1910. The plan was first introduced in November 2018, and would have automatically gone into effect in January if it didn’t receive a formal City Council vote before then. The Zoning Committee voted 18-0 on Tuesday against the landmark district, meaning the landmark protections won’t go into place.
“Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) said 95% of the people in his ward opposed the landmark district, fearing it would increase their property tax bills, saddle them with extra costs to repair or renovate their buildings, and make it more difficult to sell their properties.
“‘This is a pivotal moment for communities like Pilsen. This is a community, as you all well know, that has been hurt for decades for the lack of accountability, the corruption, but more importantly than anything else, the lack of inclusion in the decision-making process that affects many immigrant families,’ the alderman said. Several residents of Pilsen spoke out against the landmark district at Tuesday’s virtual Zoning Committee meeting.
“Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago, said the proposed landmark district was designed to protect the fabric of the community, as well as longtime business owners, homeowners, and tenants.
“‘We believe in our heart of hearts is the best and most lawful tried and true and reasonable path to protecting one of Chicago’s most vulnerable and historically significant communities from destruction, displacement, and upheaval,’ he said.
“‘The historic buildings of Pilsen are unique in their architecture and design, and offering affordable dwellings and homes for many residents. Without some type of solid, tried and true protections, we believe from our experience in working in Chicago neighborhoods for many years, that Pilsen will no longer be the same community in a short time. It will most likely be pulverized by new market-rate developments, as witnessed recently, and will force its long-term residents and stakeholders out of the community,’ he said.
“Sigcho-Lopez has said he favors a six-month moratorium on demolitions on a larger area of Pilsen while officials work on a longer-term plan to address gentrification, similar to a plan along the Bloomingdale Trail earlier this year.
“However, the Lightfoot administration raised concerns that the alderman’s proposed demolition moratorium would be impossible to manage, because it would be much more sweeping than the one put in place along the Bloomingdale Trail. Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11th) also pointed out the moratorium would include part of his ward, but Sigcho-Lopez had not yet consulted him.
“The Zoning Committee rejected Sigcho-Lopez’s demolition moratorium on a 7-11 vote, but the alderman said he was committed to working with the Lightfoot administration on a compromise, and vowed to carve out the 11th Ward from his proposal.”
Pilsen Landmark District voted down in committee; The Pilsen district would’ve given landmark status to over 900 buildings, primarily on 18th Street between South Leavitt and South Sangamon streets making it the city’s largest landmark district. But no aldermen voted for it, Manny Ramos, Chicago Sun-Times, 12/1/20