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Development In The Downtown Area: A Problem Or A Blessing?

It’s not a secret for Chicago residents that the city is under construction for most of the year. But for some residents of the Loop, the situation is getting overwhelming.

Everyday, construction workers can be found in this tourist center and neighborhood of the city, which constitutes part of the 42nd Ward. Whether they’re fixing the “L” tracks or working on a new building, you can find it all in the Loop.

More residential condos are being built, and in the last 10 years more than seven buildings have been constructed in the New East Side, according to Richard Ward, a retired pilot who lives in the area. And just like this neighborhood, the Streeterville area has also seen a lot of construction.

English: Streeterville map

“Building in our neighborhood hasn’t stopped like it has in other neighborhoods,” said Brian Hopkins, former president of the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents, SOAR.

Hopkins said they have tried to come to agreements with developers to build responsibly and be considerate to the people who live in the area, but it hasn’t been an easy thing to do. Many noise complaints have been filed, according to Hopkins, “We actually encourage our residents to be vigilant and to complain, you know, that’s the way we find out if the rules are not being adhered to,” Hopkins said.

He explained that this is the only way for construction workers to respect the city’s ordinances about noise. Hopkins said that the City of Chicago ordinances don’t allow construction to start before 8 a.m. in the area.

At the same time he said people who live in the neighborhood are aware of this, because that’s the cost of living in the city.

When it comes to this and the other issues the neighborhood faces, Hopkins said they work very closely with the alderman to address them. These include: bike lanes, bikers’ safety, construction and traffic.

But for the New East Side neighborhood, the situation is quite different. This large neighborhood, which used to be a golf course, has changed a lot since the year 2000.

“It’s been a New East Side since 1990 roughly,” Ward said.

The neighborhood has seen a lot of construction in the last 20 years, and this is due to a developmental project that was approved for the construction of 16 buildings in the New East Side. But only eight of them have been built, and the other eight remaining are under construction planning. You can view our slideshow of the buildings in progress below.

Regarding the noise problem, Ward explained that the organization hasn’t received many complains because developers try to maintain the neighborhood as clean and free of noise as possible.

“As they walk people around the neighborhood, they want them to feel like they’ll be moving into a neighborhood rather than a messy construction site,” Ward said.

Ward, who considers himself an advocate for the neighborhood, said the developers have been environmentally sensitive.

Apart from the many residential buildings in the neighborhood, there are many other projects developing around the New East Side and Streeterville with money from the Recovery Act, like the metropolitan YMCA center.

“We just accept the fact that, you know, we live in an area desirable for developers,” Hopkins said.

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