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Saturday, October 18, 2008

What's Happening at the Corner of Main & Chicago in Evanston, Illinois

In a word, nothing. The developers that got the plan approved to knock down The Main building have been unable to get enough condo pre-sales to secure construction financing for the building. With the housing industry meltdown in full swing, it is unlikely that the construction will begin any time soon. I wrote about this piece of property back in December 2007 (here is a link). So now all of us who live in the area get to see an ugly chin link fence that encloses a nasty dirt lot. It make me miss the old building even more.

The neighbors got a little press coverage at the end of September when they staged a "protest." Here is the article from the Chicago Tribune:

Guerrilla gardeners attack!

Protesters wage environmental strike on muddy vacant lot in Evanston
Barbara Mahany and freelance reporter Brian Cox
September 29, 2008

In the end, they ditched the guy-in-the-gorilla-suit concept. Same with the cloak of darkness. Instead, armed with a slingshot, souped-up lacrosse sticks, a plastic whiffle-ball thrower and six baskets brimming with 724 seed bombs—yes, seed bombs—the motley mob of guerrilla gardeners attacked in broad daylight Saturday, brazenly circling the cyclone fence that wraps a big dirt lot at Chicago Avenue and Main Street in Evanston. "Bombs away!" cried guerrilla-gardener-in-chief Carla Hayden as the sky filled with a mix of clay, compost and wildflower seeds in what looked like a storm of flying falafel balls. Along with the meadow-making armament, the botanic bombardiers unleashed their vitriol for the developer who had dug a giant hole last year, left it to ooze mud and dust and then, last week, called in bulldozers to fill it after funding for a condominium tower dried up. "We need to take it back," said Charlotte Briggs, co-conspirator of Trowels on the Prowl, the ad hoc group that organized the attack and is plotting more seed-sowing operations. "It's just an ugly hole, with an ugly fence. "You have to think: How can you make change by doing what might not be in other people's plans but you can get away with?"Attempts to reap the developer's reaction were fruitless. But none of the gardeners seemed worried about stirring the constable's wrath."If we do," said Hayden, "I'm going to handcuff myself to a wildflower."

Well, at least the lot will be covered with wildflowers next spring. Wouldn't it be nice if the developer turned it into a park while waiting for the market to turn around? It will never happen....

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