Saturday, February 11, 2012

Tribune reports on Antheus in Hyde Park

posted by chicago pop

A decent little piece in the Tribune's business section today more or less covers the range of local opinions (including ours) on the Antheus-financed MAC-vasion of Hyde Park Kenwood. George Rumsey gets in a tart little zing, someone complains that Hyde Park risks losing its 'small town' feel, and someone else worries about the neighborhood no longer being a bastion of low-income housing. I had a number of more positive things to say in addition to the comment quoted, but they didn't make it into this short piece. Which is a sort of too bad, because - probably unintentionally - the piece comes off as Antheus/MAC vs. Everybody. 

A choice excerpt: 

This month, a small group of residents gathered at the Hyde Park Art Center to see Gang's designs.

While several praised the scale and beauty of Gang's work, some residents said they were worried that the project might alter Hyde Park's quirky, small-town feel. And others were concerned about Antheus' plans to ask the city for $10 million in financial assistance — money the company initially said it wouldn't seek. Funding would come from the 53rd Street tax increment financing (TIF) district.

"You are using TIF money for huge projects that are forcing independent business owners who have been in Hyde Park for generations in some cases to close," said resident S. Beth Thomas. "You want to make Hyde Park look like a world-class neighborhood, but my concern is the people who are being displaced," she said.
And Rumsey's little splash of NIMBY hot sauce on Eli Ungar's business lunch:

"MAC has a history of making really dumb decisions when they acquire new properties and having to back down when it's a public relations disaster," said George Rumsey, an affordable housing advocate and former president of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference.
Ungar, 44, often plays "good cop" and flies in to rescue MAC, using his affable personality to calm residents' ire. "He knows how to feel your pain," Rumsey said. "He'll say, 'Let me look at it' and calls and takes people to lunch."
Meanwhile, the Del Prado and East Park building look better and better every day, the Shoreland is kept from demolition, and the sidewalks down each side of Hyde Park Boulevard are shoveled within hours of every snow storm - not something a good number of local property managers were managing to accomplish prior to Antheus's MAC-vasion.


HP Disabilities Task Force said...

Don't miss the piece on Harper Court as well. (And hasn't Eli invited you to lunch yet?)

Anonymous said...

Do people get some kind of pleasure from saying the sky is green when it's clearly blue?

The last time I was inside the Del Prado (4-5 years ago) it was a run down, poorly maintained dump. Antheus is lovingly restoring it to its former glory. The Shoreland was a white elephant nobody wanted. Antheus rescued it at significant expense to themselves (having to add parking to placate the entitled neighbors) and are restoring it to its former glory. How about the Sutherland, a badly-neglected roach infested dive? Last I heard they were trying to get it listed on the National Register of Historic Places and... restoring it.

All these accurate restorations, parking accommodations and historical preservation should make local "preservationists" happy. After all, aren't they the ones always demanding period-accurate historical preservation?

Maybe the reality is that "preservation" is just a red herring... a stick used to prevent any and all change for purely selfish and subjective reasons? Makes me wonder if the Point renovation would have been done even if they city agreed to rebuild it using only limestone block and original materials?

tayiah said...

We can't hold the nabe back for a minority of people. This area should be the goldcoast of the south side by now. There are other areas where low income people can live, it isn't like we are abolishing them from the city. We will always have some low income people here through the section 8 program.

chicago pop said...

I'm not sure I'd go that far, tayiah. It always strikes me as hyperbolic when people hyperventilate about Hyde Park becoming Lincoln Park (as if that were possible); invoking the Gold Coast is strikes me as even more so. We want balanced growth that preserves a balanced community. But folks should recognize that Hyde Park, Kenwood, the South Shore, and much of the adjacent areas were not historically poor neighborhoods (far from it). The things people have gotten used to in the last generation or so do not necessarily define the neighborhood over the long-term. The irony of considering Hyde Park to be a bastion of affordable housing - when the housing stock was initially some of the most luxurious on the south side - is pronounced. The only reason much of it is affordable and not condemned is that it was so well-built that it could go decades with low maintenance costs. That won't last forever. At some point, every building in Hyde Park Kenwood, affordable or not, needs significant reconstruction, and that costs money. Right now, MAC is providing a lot of the financing to do that.

Richard Gill said...

I’m glad that the big climbing crane is up at the Harper Court redevelopment site. It means that steel will begin rising and that a resurgent Hyde Park commercial district is on the make. I have no doubt that the neighborhood will retain its unconventional character, so long as it’s full of unconventional characters. New shopping, eateries and other amenities need not turn them away. As for the “small town feel,” Hyde Park hasn’t had that since it was a small town, and that was in the 19th Century.

The kind of big-box commercial development that hurts small businesses the most isn’t in Hyde Park, nor is it proposed for the neighborhood. Those who object to the big stores will find them on Roosevelt Road or the North Side. If anyone goes down there to tilt at those windmills, and say hi to all the Hyde Parkers who shop there.

Mitchell Brown said...

Yes. It is all well and good that Antheus is buying up old properties and refurbishing them - after a fashion. However, what they do with the properties after they own them is quite another thing. I have lived in the Windermere for 22 year and have witnessed a precipitous decline in the quality of the building since Antheus took it over. Mouse infestations, elevators that break down every other week, heat that is erratic at best, scaffolding that has been up for five years because of a tuckpointing job that never begins, poorly maintained common areas, etc. What was once a premiere building has become more comparable to lower income housing.

Cosmetic improvements were done cheaply and are already falling apart

Yes. They are buying stuff and have glitzy plans, but the follow-through is poor. I expect the same thing to happen to Del Prado, Regents and Shoreland if and when it ever gets completed.

They may not be the Devil incarnate as some Hyde Parkers would have it, but neither are the saviors of the neighborhood. They are just a very ambitious and unfortunately very ineffective property manager

rdb66 said...

I like George Rumsey personally, but I couldn't disagree more strongly about keeping Hyde Park a "small town." Hyde Park fronts Lake Michigan and 5 miles from the center of a global city. Hyde Park SHOULD be a vital, city neighborhood with numerous and diverse retail options and good public transportation. It has a LONG way to go, especially for those of us on the West Side of the neighborhoods.