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Logan Square's Higher Rents Making Neighborhood Less Diverse, Report Says

By Darryl Holliday | January 27, 2015 9:29am | Updated on January 27, 2015 10:01am
 "Guidelines" for the Logan Square Blue Line station set affordable housing and green space as goals.
Logan Square Corridor Meeting
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LOGAN SQUARE — A report on the future of Logan Square and Avondale calls for more affordable housing, retail and community space while warning that low-income and minority residents could increasingly be pushed aside as the area redevelops.

The report is the result of three Logan Square and Avondale-specific meetings held in September to help frame the future of both neighborhoods. Released by the Metropolitan Planning Council earlier this month, it contains a set of seven general recommendations based on research, structural models and community input from meetings held at the Hairpin Arts Center, 2801 N. Milwaukee Ave.

The seven recommendations in the MPC’s final report:

• The station plaza and parking lot should be developed, but should not rise higher than six stories.

 The report lists seven recommendations for the Logan Square area based on community meetings in September.
The report lists seven recommendations for the Logan Square area based on community meetings in September.
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Metropolitan Planning Council

• The preferred use of the sites is a combination of affordable housing, green space and a community space that supports an indoor farmers market.

• Parking should be reduced significantly, while retaining a minimal amount for any future development and public use.

• The station plaza should contain pedestrian-oriented green space.

• The site facing Milwaukee Avenue should contain a mix of development types, including small-scale retail and community space.

• The Emmett Street parking lot should be redeveloped into mixed-income housing.

• At least 50 percent of new residential units should be affordable.

The report also warns that Logan Square’s population is listed at 73,487 people, an 11.2 percent drop since 2000 — many of those low-income neighbors.

“The share of renter households that are housing-cost burdened — meaning they spend more than 30 percent of their incomes on housing — increased from around 36 percent in 2000 to 47 percent in 2010. These trends threaten the diversity of the area and may result in displacement of long-time residents,” the report states.

Median monthly gross rent is up 15.3 percent in both Logan Square and neighboring Avondale, costing an average of $949 and $885 per month, respectively.

Meanwhile, the share of "cost-burdened" homes is also up in both neighborhoods since 2000 — 30 percent for Logan Square and 35 percent in Avondale, the report states. That left roughly half of each neighborhood cost burdened, according to the report.

Many of those same residents facing displacement in Logan Square and Avondale were also disproportionately under-represented at all three MPC meetings — most notably the area’s Latino and black populations, who make up 51 and 7 percent of Logan Square, respectively, but made up around 20 and 2 percent of the meetings at best, according to the report.

The first meeting, on Sept. 9, focused on existing conditions and goals of the two-neighborhood region. The second meeting, on Sept. 16, featured a hands-on block building exercise. Meeting number 3, on Sept. 30, brought resident input and the hand-built models before developers and real estate experts for a discussion of pros and cons of each proposal.

The first meeting identified diversity, affordable housing and parks/open space, transportation, accessibility and businesses as key elements of a Logan Square redesign, based on attendee feedback.

That meeting was followed by the hands-on building exercise where residents constructed models of Logan Square’s central district. Of those 28 proposals, 93 percent included buildings on the Emmett Street, 79 percent included building on the Logan Square station plaza, 63 percent supported the inclusion of affordable housing and 41 percent included an indoor farmer’s market.

A full review of four community-submitted scenarios can be found in the final report.

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