Gazette Chicago 12 04 2015 E Edition Page 1

An independent community newspaper since 1983. Near West/Tri-Taylor University Village West Loop South Loop West Haven Bridgeport/Armour Square Chinatown Bronzeville East Pilsen Heart of Chicago December 4, 2015 FREE Vol. 33, No. 8 UIC Flames basketball teams poised to create excitement. See page 12. Other highlights: De La Salle to change to co-educational learning. See page 3. Gazette holiday wish list for community, country, world. See page 24. Local Joffrey youngsters perform in 'The Nutcracker.' See page 50. INSIDE Spirit of Giving helps us remember to share with others. See page 39. By Miriam Y. Cintrn As new condominium develop- ments crop up around Pilsen, longtime residents worry that an influx of new, higher income res- idents along with rising rents in existing buildings will force them out of their homes. Many factors have contributed to rising rents in the area for lon- ger term residents. Byron Sigcho of the Pilsen Alliance pointed to the "aggressive entrance of devel- opers" as well as the increase in singles with higher incomes mov- ing into the area, driving the aver- age income in Pilsen from about $20,000 five years ago to $80,000 to $90,000 today. "Gentrification is a major con- cern in the community," Lauren Nolan, economic development planner at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Nath- alie P. Voorhees Center for Neigh- borhood and Community Im- provement, said. "Since 2000, median gross rents for the Lower West Side (which is comprised mostly of the Pilsen neighbor- hood) have increased roughly 20% when adjusting for infla- tion, which outpaces city-wide increases." Nolan went on to explain that "the area has also seen a decrease in its proportion of Latino resi- dents, which peaked at 89% in 2000 and has since decreased to 82%. Shifting racial and ethnic composition is also an indicator of neighborhood change, and loss of minority residents is a symptom of gentrification." The Rev. Julio Loza of St. Matthew Lutheran Church, 2108 W. 21st St., has heard from many parishioners just how difficult life has become due to rising rents. "It's causing financial problems for low-income families, many who are undocumented," Rev. Loza said. "Rising rents are caus- ing a lot of pain." While most residents in the area are renters, homeowners also have felt the pressure. Rosemary Sierra, who has lived in the area for 57 years, is a renter but notes that her 88-year-old mother is a homeowner who often receives letters from realtors to gauge her interest in selling her property on Bishop Street between 18th Street and Blue Island Avenue. 'They just want the land' "Developers don't want the house," Sierra said. "They've never asked to come inside. They just want the land." Five years ago, St. Matthew Lutheran Church faced expen- sive fines and repairs stemming from more than 20 City citations for building code violations. The church has since resolved the issues, but Rev. Loza said he sus- pected the parish was being tar- geted for its land. Pilsen businesses also could feel the effects of change. "While I can't speak to the specific expe- riences of Pilsen business own- ers, increases in commercial rents often go hand in hand with increases to residential rents," Nolan explained. "It is common for gentrifying neighborhoods to not only struggle with residential displacement but commercial dis- placement as commercial rents increase rapidly. It's the 'mom and pop' type establishments that tend Longtime Pilsen residents worry about rising rents, gentrification, and future Continued on page 16 Personal Creations brightens holidays for Lurie children. See page 21. By Patrick Butler "Let's just say I have a good feel- ing about this; I'm cautiously optimistic the news is going to be very good," Alderman Patrick D. Thompson of the 11th Ward told the Gazette shortly before the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) board announced on Nov. 18 its decision to reinstate 31st Street bus service on an "experimental" basis. Thompson said he had been having "conversations" with CTA Continued on page 8 Community wins round one for 31st Street bus CHRISTMAS IN CHICAGO-The Gazette's Christmas in Chicago guide offers fun events, such as Christmas Around the World at the Museum of Science and Industry. See page 26.

Next Page