Two aldermen are proposing a moratorium on building new homes in a zone around the popular 606 Trail, a move that builders say might result in increasing gentrification pressure elsewhere.
Demand for new homes in the city “is like a balloon; If you push down part of it, it (swells) somewhere else,” said Michael Yeagle, a developer and Compass real estate agent whose firm, Studio Realty, sold a newly built house on Moffatt Street a block from the 606 for more than $1.3 million in December.
Will pausing new homes in the 606 zone push gentrification elsewhere?
A proposal to temporarily stop new construction in a zone around the western end of the popular trail could just mean more development elsewhere.
The five-bedroom, 3,700-square foot house, which replaced a 128-year-old, 980-square-foot home, is inside the four square mile zone where Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) and Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) want to halt new construction—except for affordable housing—and zoning changes for a year.
“We want to slow down market-rate development to give some time to stop the rampant gentrification we’ve been experiencing in this area,” Maldonado said. “We have a sense of urgency because people who look like me are being displaced.”
The Aldermen propose to create a no-build zone that spans a half mile north and south of the trail between Western and Kostner Avenues, an area that Maldonado said is “going crazy” with higher-priced new construction. (See map at the bottom of this article.) The stretch of the trail east of Western Avenue was already dense with luxury homes before the trail opened in 2015.
In the moratorium zone, more than 75 new construction houses, condos or townhouses have sold in the past 12 months, according to Crain’s analysis of listings in the Midwest Real Estate Data system. They haven’t all replaced lower-priced homes; some replaced former industrial property, such as the old Phoenix Fasteners factory site that now contains 50 new townhouses, all sold.
Maldonado expects to get it on the agenda of the City Council’s Committee on Housing and Real Estate later this month. The ordinance temporarily prohibits demolition permits that are tied to a subsequent constriction permit, except in cases where affordable housing will be built or the existing building is dangerous to inhabit, Maldonado said. If approved, the moratorium would be in place for a year.