As of January 1, 2016, Gapers Block is on indefinite hiatus. The site will remain up in archive form while we evaluate our options, which may include a redesign or sale.
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Tuesday, May 31
Chicago Historic Resources Survey: Not included [?]
Permit Description: Wreck and remove masonry brick 2 story brick residence.
Status: Demolition permit issued 1/26/2012
The building's demolition demonstrates some of the tradeoffs made when assembling new parkland in the city. Here, Openlands, an organization that "protects natural and open spaces in northeastern Illinois," is demolishing a cluster of residential buildings on the South Side. In addition to the planned leveling of this building, the organization already demolished its northern neighbor in May 2011. Both buildings were inhabitable when purchased from the previous owners for $105,000 and $176,000, respectively.
Openlands wouldn't comment on the demolitions, but Peter Strazzabosco from the city's Department of Housing and Economic Development clarified that Openlands is working with the city to develop a large park and urban farm [pdf - See page 18] surrounding the landmark Raber House. That building was on the 2007-2008 Landmarks Illinois Watch List and is still threatened. While the city plans to incorporate the Raber House into the park, at least two other residences (and as many as five) will be demolished. 5744 S. Lafayette Ave. and the other threatened buildings are not listed in the CHRS, but three other buildings are listed from the 5600 and 5700 blocks of Lafayette: 5621-5623, 5740 and 5760. Of the three, only 5760 -- the Raber House -- remains.
Strazzabosco additionally clarified that Openlands is using its own money to purchase and demolish the properties, but the organization will be ultimately reimbursed by the city. The arrangement raises an additional question about such demolitions: How much city money is lost by organizations not protecting buildings before demolishing them? At least in this case, materials worth thousands of dollars were stolen from the building, materials which could have been sold to recoup a portion of the investment.
Over the course of 2012 David Schalliol produced a photographic portrait of 100 of the hundreds of buildings threatened with demolition in the city of Chicago. Nearly all of the buildings have since been demolished. Visit the background information section for more information about the project, including definitions and links to other building resources.
The series is supported by a generous grant from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.