Dear Alderman La Spata, Build Homes Now!

Alderman La Spata,

Please reconsider your move to downzone the 1628 W Division Street development. I ask that you let this project move forward and do not obstruct the construction of any affordable housing in the 1st Ward.

In the past you have supported the construction of affordable housing; an example of this would be the Emmett Street development in Logan Square. That is a great project that will add 100 affordable units to Logan Square.  I find it odd that you would support that project, but oppose adding 20+ affordable units to Wicker Park. This is an equally valid project that will only add to an already vibrant Wicker Park.

I fear that you have placed too much weight on the opinions of a homeowner community group that opposes new construction and affordable housing. You have taken them at their word that they are arguing in good faith, but they are not speaking for the entire community. Community groups of this kind were used since the 1910s as a way to segregate cities all across the United States. Although their language has been toned down, their goals are the same. Consider this recent podcast, Segregation Then and Now, or the book The Color of Law by Rothstein. 

Instead of listening to homeowners’ misguided fears, I ask that you seek out and gather input from some of the 20 people who received an affordable home in the recent construction right next door at 1640 W Division. Or, reach out to the 5000+ people on the city waitlist to get a piece of the American Dream.

Beyond the 20+ affordable units this project would provide, it would also provide ~140 units of market rate housing. This is new housing built on a parking lot. This would slow or prevent displacement across Wicker Park. New wealthy residents could opt to live in these units instead of pushing out families that live in the surrounding communities. 

There is also a massive environmental benefit for this type of dense building. These large buildings use less energy than single family homes or three flats. This is an incredibly transit rich area that allows access to jobs across the city via the Division Blue Line stop, Ashland bus line, Division bus line, and access to the loop via bike or bus on Milwaukee. Furthermore, the solution to overcrowding on the blue line is to directly fix the transit issue by making better transit alternatives. One potential solution is an express bus on Milwaukee. 

The height of this building is a non issue. The building itself is set back very far from any street. There are other buildings nearby of similar height, and the Noble Square CoOp is almost double the height at 28 stories. 

Once again, we ask that you do not downzone this project. There are too many Chicagoans who have been on the waitlist too long to delay building these affordable units.  Do not let your first use of alderman prerogative be to stop affordable development!

-Mark Fruin

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