Friday, May 17, 2013

Online Petition Against BJB & Flatts (Sic)

             This petition was apparently started by students at Loyola. We are flattered that they decided to use our photograph of Astor House. The petition states that there is a campaign of gentrification ongoing in the neighborhoods of Rogers Park, Edgewater and Uptown. If the petition writers were studying real estate trends and shifting demographics over the past few decades they would've realized that the market and reality have finally caught up with the large apartment buildings of these communities. Many neighbors who have stuck it out through the hard times in these neighborhoods applaud efforts like this to improve these grand old apartment buildings.

Please continue reading for more pictures and words

UPDATE 5/18/13 - 3:30 pm

Today is BBQ for friends and family of Astor House @ Pratt beach
 please continue reading to see the flyer

            If apartment buildings like this are to survive another century they need a lot of work and in order to pay for that higher rents will need to be collected. The city sure could use the additional tax revenue higher rents will bring. The petition also states that this "destroys the fabric of the neighborhood". It sure will change the neighborhood, but destroy it? Does this building look like "affordable" or low income housing? Does affordable housing mean low income housing? What if the caption on the petition said "Stop Reinvesting In The City Of Chicago" and "Stop Restoring Our Beautiful Old Apartment Buildings"?

            BJB should do the right thing with the residents of Astor House as James Pritzker did with the former residents of the Farcroft and help them find new homes. As BJB is not as rich as an eccentric billionaire it is more cost effective to just drive out tenants by any means necessary rather than do it in slow steady humane manner that doesn't grab headlines or cause picketing and marching. It is true that the owners are waiting for the old tenants to move out before fixing up the building, which is no different than what happened with the Farcroft. For major renovations and repairs the building must be emptied before significant improvements can be made, its safer and more cost effective.

             There are currently 93 signatures on this petition and the last time it was signed was 21 days ago. The site Occupy Our Homes mainly has petitions to keep specific families in their homes which are currently undergoing foreclosure. Most petitions don't get more than a hundred votes, a few get thousands.

Chevanston Original Unaltered File Photo Of Astor House

Stavroula H.  about a month ago
BJB, FLATS, and all the other real estate developers around have one goal: PROFIT. They will pursue this goal without any concern for the well-being of residents or communities. It is OUR job, as community members, to fight against these sociopathic corporations and the gentrification policies of their pals in our government. -Uptown resident

(It is true that real estate developers do want a profit. But are there gentrification policies? Or is this a demographic historic shift just as there was white flight in the fifties and sixties? Are these corporations sociopathic? Can buildings' fortunes change with the times?)

               The Loyola Community is distressed to discover the unjust methods your companies have been using to profit from rent-hiking. Reports from community members indicate the mass eviction of tenants from multiple BJB and FLATS properties slated to become renovated and marketed as luxury housing. As a Jesuit University that values social justice, we condemn these actions.
               We the undersigned understand these actions to be part of a campaign of gentrification happening in Rogers Park, Edgewater, Uptown, and across Chicago. The upgrading and remarketing of formerly affordable housing destroys the fabric of the neighborhood the University is a part of. In solidarity with our community members, the students, faculty and community members refuse to rent from your companies unless current tenants are allowed to stay and you negotiate with them to make the building livable and affordable.

Why is this important?
                In the case of 1246 W Pratt, owned by a subsidiary of BJB, we understand that the new owners have filed at least 27 new eviction cases since acquiring the building in November. The property manager has announced plans to increase rent up to 57 percent.  Tenants face extreme difficulty finding affordable housing, and in some cases find themselves homeless. Meanwhile, tenants have told us about what is happening in their buildings: management’s unwillingness to address significant health and safety concerns in the building including lack of fire safety equipment, repeatedly broken elevators, the shutting off of water and heat to apartments, bedbugs, cockroaches and mice. Tenants believe the poor maintenance is being used as a tactic to encourage tenants to leave.

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