April 11 2013

Hyde Park and Bronzeville: Gentrification on Chicago’s South Side

With last fall’s announcement that the low-cost supermarket Village Foods would be closing in favor of a new upscale Whole Foods location, a long-running debate about gentrification on Chicago’s South Side was re-ignited. The Hyde Park storefront is adjacent to the University of Chicago, and is part of a larger development project slated to bring 110,000 square feet of retail and 182 apartments to the northern edge of the neighborhood.

Village Foods

Low-cost grocer Village Foods has closed to make way for Whole Foods as part of a mixed-use luxury development

While the developer, Antheus Capital, did take pains to garner community input in the years since acquiring the property in 2005, some are still disappointed to see a low-cost grocery store that had served the neighborhood for nearly thirty years replaced with an upscale national chain. The Coalition for Equitable Community Development (CECD) has supported the City Hyde Park development project, yet CECD President George Rumsey did have some misgivings about the uprooting of Village Foods:

“Many of us in the community feel the closing of Village Foods is a loss, particularly the people who liked to find a bargain.” – George Rumsey

Bronzeville map

While one might expect this kind of economic development next to a university with deep pockets and political capital, perhaps more unexpected is the gentrification occurring in Bronzeville, just to the north of Hyde Park. Bronzeville, the historic home of Chicago’s jazz and blues scenes, is uniquely developing with non-white gentrification, as middle-class blacks return to the neighborhood. Emily Badger, writing in The Atlantic Cities, compares difficulties in “cultural marketing,” comparing Bronzeville to another gentrifying neighborhood, the predominantly Latino area of Pilsen:

“It’s as if gentrification can’t happen without an influx of white residents, and so it must not be happening there. How can the neighborhood’s prospects have really changed if its demographics haven’t? Bronzeville’s historic “blackness” – to borrow a term from the academics – appears to overwhelm any sense of its identity as a neighborhood on the way up.” -Emily Badger

These two neighborhoods serve as interesting case studies for urban planners contending with the contemporary demographic challenges of growth.

What tools can planners employ to ensure development works for all?

Credits: Data and images linked to sources.

Andrew Kinaci

After graduating from Princeton University with an A.B. in Architecture and a Certificate in Urban Studies, Andrew Kinaci set out to the Midwest to break out of the insular world of academia, and into the direct service of non-profit work. After a year working on Chicago’s West Side with a social enterprise specializing in re-entry employment training for ex-felons, Andrew now works for an organization conducting energy audits of multi-family affordable housing buildings. He will be blogging about the many ways Chicago is seeking a more sustainable and equitable urban future.

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 11th, 2013 at 9:02 am and is filed under Government/Politics, Land Use, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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