North side NIMBYs at it again

Just in time for Halloween, the old ladies of Chicago’s Near North Side are at it again.

Back in the 60’s and 70’s they bought their plush homes in the sky on streets like Delaware, Chestnut, and Clark.  Now that a new generation wants a taste of that life, it’s all hands on deck for a fight against change.
The latest target of their elderly invective is the proposed residential tower at 111 West Chestnut Street.  A recent article in the Chicago Journal outlined the typical bogus grievances about congestion and neighborhood character and oh… a new one — sewer capacity.
It’s the usual crowd of people who already have their high-rise lifestyles trying to keep anyone else from having it; or worse — marginalizing their view!  
It’s hard to argue that a building with just 59 residences will have much of an impact on traffic, but the geriatric gentrifiers have dragged that old saw out of the complaint toolshed.  They’re also claiming that the building’s residents will clog the buses and subways, too.
But most of the complaints are about “neighborhood character.”  The old ladies are afraid that if anyone else is let in things might change.  Because, you know, the neighborhood has never changed before.  And it’s exactly the same today as it was before all those old ladies got their dee-lux apartments in the sky-high-high.  
So what are they trying to preserve?
A quick look at 111 West Chestnut’s current state reveals… plastic Walgreen’s bags.  A brick.  Sand.  Dirt.  McDonald’s cups.  And what maybe an adult diaper.
If that’s the neighborhood character they’re so desperate to cling to, I say bring on the cranes and bulldozers.  We’re a movin’ on up!

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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