River Line Development will shake up demographics of the South Loop

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Artist’s recreation of what the completion of the riverfront project will look like upon completion. Photo Courtesy of Perkins + Will

By David Villegas, Contributing Reporter

On Sept. 13, officials from the City of Chicago as well as business leaders from CMK Companies and Lend Lease broke ground on the start of construction of the new river line project. The region where the renovations will be taking place is bound by Harrison St. through Roosevelt St. and Wells St. to the south branch of the Chicago River.

The renovations will consist of multiple high-rise apartment buildings that will be built in a period of eight to ten years. The development companies also plan to contribute $8.7 million to the city’s affordable housing fund to construct affordable units within this project, according to dnainfo.

While taking into account there is still a homeless population found throughout the South Loop area that will not benefit directly from this project.

Professors of the Sociology Department at Roosevelt discussed the what effects the residential project would have on these people.

Heather Dalmage, a professor in the Sociology Department as well as the director of the Mansfield Institute of Social Justice at Roosevelt, described how this project is in simple terms gentrification by the City of Chicago.

Dalmage said this project is just a step in the process of gentrification that happens when any area changes from being a slum area into a wealthy one.

“They will definitely be forced out. All folks living along in tents along the river will lose their space. The question will be are developers considering where these folks can go or will they just jettison them?” Dalmage said.

Stephanie Farmer, an Associate Professor in the Sociology Department at Roosevelt, expresses how the South Loop area has already been redeveloped.

According to Farmer this project is just “expanding to a space that have been occupied by homeless people who have been made homeless because of low-wage jobs, lack of services directed to them, unaffordable housing, as well as drug abuse.”

Farmer also noted how there is a focus by the city government to provide housing for the affluent yet provide minimal services for the homeless people.

Dalmage pointed out that the working class people should be able to stay within city limits. If the city is going to function, then it needs people able and willing to work in a variety of capacities and across a variety of class situations.

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