Chicago businesses safe for now, but still fighting

Yesterday, the Committee on Housing and Real Estate passed a substitute ordinance authorizing the acquisition of property in Lincoln Square in Chicago’s 47th ward. The original ordinance would have allowed the city to seize many successfuNancy Smarinsky SLS.jpgl businesses, including Chicago Soccer and The Dental Corner, in order to give the property to a private developer. The businesses joined together to form Save Lincoln Square, and over 250 community members attended their first meeting – which was followed by a spontaneous march on Alderman Gene Schulter’s ward office.

Responding to this massive citizen opposition, Schulter introduced a substitute that removed most of the properties from the “involuntary acquisition list” – but not all. Maintaining the authority to condemn any of the businesses sets a dangerous precedent for the rest of Lincoln Square.

Schulter insists that he’s trying to “protect” Lincoln Square from big box developers, but the businesses clearly don’t want to sell – to a developer or to the city. The city is just trying to protect its own tax-hungry interests by keeping thriving stores like Chicago Soccer on an “acquisition list,” albeit voluntary (for now). The community sees right through the rhetoric.

The city has taken an important first step – but it’s only a first step. Eminent domain should not be authorized against any property. The ordinance will go before the full City Council at their January 9th meeting.