Sunday, February 27, 2011

Welcome to 2011: The Year of the Parking Pinch

Forget the Year of the Rabbit.

In Wicker Park, it's more like the Year of the Parking Space, or Lack Thereof.

Or, it could also be called The Year of the Displaced Historic Banks [thanks, Scott Trotter, for shedding light on the fact that everything but banks are moving into bank buildings these days]

Either way, now that the Election is over, it's safe to say that there's lots of Real Estate Development surfacing in the neighborhood's proverbial "pipeline," and where one stands on the matter is directly related to your WIFM ["what's in it for me?"]

Are you a restaurant who will benefit from the increased foot traffic and addition of a few hundred extra people to the neighborhood?

Are you a dry cleaner or doctor or pawn shop that would welcome foot traffic?

Are you a cabbie eager for a new drop off point?

Are you a resident who already has a difficult time trying to park your car?

Are you an existing local business whose clientele and bottom line could be directly affected by the erecting of a competitor within less than a block away?

Are you an existing business who has just lost your lease on a parking lot that your customers have been using for many years, so that a new development can be moved into the place where your customers used to park?

Are you a longtime renter afraid that the area's continued redevelopment will continue to raise your landlord's property taxes and eventually price you out of your own home, and the neighborhood you've been pretending to "cover" these past two years?

Are you a broker who will receive millions from the sealing of a new deal?

Are you a yuppie who wants more chain stores, and less unique places in Wicker Park you can't find anywhere else?

Are you a corporation from out-of-state eying Wicker Park's "demographics" and eager to put your brand in front of this market segment?

I guess it's all relative.

Change is part of life. But it doesn't always mean that we have to take it gracefully, especially when we're not sure about the forces that propel change forward. Transparency in government is important. On a local level, a lot of gunk can get in the way of reporting on the stories with the broadest scope and greatest ramifications for the neighborhood. Or, shall I say 'Rahm'ifications?

Let's begin with the Bloomingdale Trail.

We all agree it would be awesome. But is it necessary? Can we as a city afford to be spending millions of dollars on something that is not necessary in the midst of an economic crisis? Teachers and policemen are necessary. Trails are extraneous. And don't get me wrong, I love trails, and in particular I love the Bloomingdale Trail. Here is a shot of it at sunset, and an anonymous woman just playing around.

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