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The 'Burbs: Revenge of the Tear-Down

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You can blame economic recovery for the growing scourge of tear-downs across North Shore communities, says a Special Report in Tuesday's Trib Local. The kind of tear-down that local preservationists are registering more and more of is the make-way-for-McMansion type, long a threat to neighborhood character. It's nothing new for the collection of affluent 'burbs, but demolition permits had come down precipitously over the last decade. In Winnetka, for instance, single-family demolition permits peaked at 60 in 2002. Last year the village issued just 28, but through the first three months of 2012 10 permit applications had been received. It's still early to say how much of a resurgence we'll really see with the tear-down trend. The mess began in the late 90s, when, for the first time, it became less expensive to tear-down and rebuild than to renovate. Now, with developers eying eligible tear-downs, a "spooky" atmosphere if not an all-out crisis has set in. Preservationists are worried enough to be speaking out, and old battle lines are forming again. A lot of history has already been lost, and more is certain to. There's an unfortunate reality to all this— many buyers simply prefer new construction to historic rehab. [Trib Local]