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Logan Square and West Town leading city in demolition permits for 2017

Developers are knocking down older buildings faster in these two neighborhoods than any others in Chicago

Curbed Chicago Flickr pool/Nitram242

As the discussion about gentrification in neighborhoods like Logan Square and Pilsen hits fever pitch, new data helps to illustrate just how much change is going on in quickly developing neighborhoods. According to numbers pulled by Chicago Cityscape, a local development and construction data portal, two neighborhoods have stood out this year for the demolition activity happening in them. Logan Square and West Town are currently leading the city in demolition activity for 2017, with 30 and 27 permits issued respectively.

The numbers may not seem staggering initially, but the demolition activity happening in these neighborhoods has been adding up over the years. West Town has been one of the leading neighborhoods for teardowns for at least the last few years, meanwhile demolition activity in neighborhoods like Lakeview, Lincoln Park, and North Center also continues at a high level. Thousands of homes have been demolished around the city in the last decade.

This Italianate at 231 W. Scott will likely be demolished.
John Morris/Chicago Patterns

The data seems to illustrate that builders have begun to shift their focus from neighborhoods like Lincoln Park and Lakeview to areas like Logan Square and West Town. “My belief is that North Center and Lincoln Park are running out of houses to demolish,” Steven Vance, the urban planner and blogger behind Chicago Cityscape suggests. “The houses in Lincoln Park you’d want to demolish are too expensive tear down, so you’d either renovate it or buy somewhere else.”

Some developers don’t appear to be deterred by the cost, age, or architectural significance when tearing down houses in Lincoln Park. It’s not uncommon to see developers piece together multiple lots to market unbuilt mansions with steep asking prices. The practice not only has a visible effect on the character of these older, historic areas, but it leads to question of how demolition activity affects density and population decline in North Side neighborhoods.

Chicago Cityscape

According to Vance’s figures, the city issued 1,212 demolition permits in 2015 and 1,319 in 2016. And with the construction boom continuing well into another year, 2017 is on track to witnessing similar figures as prior years when it comes to demolition activity. So far, 344 demolition permits have been issued this year.