North Side Removal
Last night, I attended the latest NorthSide Regeneration, LLC, community meeting, along with Policy Pulse reporter Audrey Spalding (be sure to read her excellent article.) I was impressed with the presentation; the NorthSide development team has obviously spent a lot of time working on the logistics of the more than 4,000 parcels of land involved in their proposal. (You can read more about those plans on Policy Pulse.) However, aside from the generalities, many questions were left unanswered about how the development might affect the future of current area residents.
Meeting organizers requested that nobody record the proceedings, and had a few confrontations with some zealous bloggers. Arguments became heated a number of times, as community members questioned how their own properties fit into the proposed plans. Some people had seen the areas in which their houses and businesses currently stand designated as “green space” on the projected plans. Although the developer and city officials responded to some questions, others were left unanswered. The portions of the plans that are publicly available are still vague and general enough that a standard answer was that no one yet knows what will happen to a specific house or business in question, because the plans are not yet finalized.
A PowerPoint presentation provided some revealing before-and-after statistics about college education. Currently, only 3.4 percent of north side residents have a college education, compared to 15.5 percent nationally. According to NorthSide Regeneration’s presentation, they envision that 75 percent of area residents will have a college education. Not included alongside that 75-percent figure was the likelihood that such a drastic increase in college attendance figures will result not from a greater number of existing north side residents attaining higher education, but from a largely new population of better-educated residents populating the area and displacing many current residents.
Parts of the north side area are undeniably blighted, and do need work. The plans as presented showed the possibility of an attractive new community that might work well for upper-middle class residents who are looking for new parks, transit, and grocery stores within walking distance. However, although the presentation seemed designed to reassure area residents about their community’s bright future, it skirted the fact that many of the people who live there now have the most to lose from the new development, and will likely not be able to afford to continue living there if the plans proceed.