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