Monday, September 16, 2013

A Random Walk Down Clark Street, Pt. 3

[This is an article I wrote in 2009, during the Great Recession.]

When I moved into the Andersonville area more than 10 years ago, it was a great place to be if you were a small business, considering the relatively cheap rents, and more and more customers as Chicagoans migrated out of the Lincoln Park/Lakeview area in seach of less expensive places to live and rehab projects.

Over the last few years the less-well-off folks who gave Andersonville its funky urban flavor have mostly moved on. They can't afford to live around here anymore. Taking a walk down the tree-lined streets, one is more likely to run into a stroller or dog walker than an edgy bohemian artist.

Now the newly built or rebuilt properties sit empty or half-filled, and some businesses in the heart of the 'hoods commercial district have closed shop. It feels like the neighborhood could go either way this year - either it will weather the storm and maintain an inclusive, independent, reasonably-priced atmosphere, or it will start to look like Rogers Park, the neighborhood to the north that's a textbook example of what happens when local government officials don't give a shit about developing their community's businesses.

Here are some more pics I took last weekend on my "empty lot survey" walk down Clark Street.

This used to be a convenience store. It closed up more than a year ago and it doesn't look like any one's interested in doing anything with it.
Another shop on the northern end of Clark that's gone out of business.

This used to be a large coin-operated laundry/dry cleaner. It was well trafficked, although with the gradual increase in property taxes as the neighborhood got more popular, I hesitate to say the business was profitable. There was a sign up briefly that said the place was being rehabbed as a restaurant, but I assume that deal has fallen through.

Another empty storefront, tucked in between two independent businesses that are still going. This would have been prime real estate as little as a year ago.

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