Dozens of South Shore residents convened at the Bryn Mawr Community Church yesterday evening to discuss a plan to downzone much of the 71st Street commercial corridor in the neighborhood, a measure which would prevent many new businesses from opening in the area. The plan, which would reclassify the zoning along a 15-block stretch of 71st Street to allow only for the construction of new single family homes, was unveiled by 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston earlier this month. However, after a public discussion, Alderman Hairston has decided to revisit the plan and make changes, DNAinfo reports.
The plan to downzone the stretch would prevent certain businesses from opening and is specifically targeted at uses such as nail salons, beauty supply stores, and convenience stores. However, at last night’s meeting, property owners voiced concerns about the potential loss of value on their buildings and inability to receive loans or new investment from banks, DNAinfo reports.
In addition, the plan to reclassify the stretch as residential would mean that potential small business owners would have to go through the process of getting a variance as the buildings along the nearly mile-long corridor would be non-conforming properties. Beth Kregor, a University of Chicago law school professor, tells DNAinfo that the extra hurdles and expenses required to open a new business could lead some potential business owners to look elsewhere.