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Controversy and Community Reaction

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This redevelopment plan has stirred major controversy among current community residents, neighborhood social service providers, and sympathetic outsiders for several reasons:

  • The process. For several years, the developer secretly purchased properties in the community. No residents or resident body was consulted about their ideas or input for redevelopment of the community, therefore the plan may or may not reflect the ideals of current residents. As communicated by the residents, trust is non-existent between the developer and the residents.
  • The design. The current design is a mix of both an urban and a suburban "look". Some residents believe that the historic nature of the community will be lost with this new "look" and should be completely retained.
  • The funding. The developer plans to request a large sum of public money. Some residents and outsiders contend that a large amount of public funding should not be used to support a project by a for-profit real estate developer.
  • The intended recipients. After redevelopment, many of the current residents may not be able to afford to live in the community. Although the developer has promised housing for all income levels, residents and advocates are skeptical that this idea will be realized.
  • The plan. As part of the redevelopment, the plan calls for the destruction of many buildings, including current community institutions, such as an old ice cream store, and public spaces, including several run-down parks. Some residents lament that these spaces that are part of their history will be gone.
  • Trust of the developer. Since the time that the developer has purchased properties, many have continued to deteriorate. Some residents do not understand the reasons that prevent a wealthy developer from maintaining his properties, and are angry that he is allowing the community to deteriorate further.
    • Some feel that it does not make good business sense to invest money in upkeep on structures that will be destroyed.
    • In addition, the race and socioeconomic differences between the developer and the majority of the residents are a factor in their ability to trust the developer.
    • Lastly, the residents are fearful that unless the developer has the capacity and resources to truly implement the redevelopment plan, the community may be left with a half-developed community and lack of resources to complete the work.

Community Reaction to the Plan

Various community groups differ in their reaction to the plan.

  • Several houses of worship and nonprofit organizations have begun to dialogue internally and with one another about their positions on the redevelopment plan.
  • Some ministers and their houses of worship support the redevelopment plan, because they see hope for the community.
  • Labor unions support the plan because the redevelopment will bring union-wage jobs and other promised jobs to the community.
  • Some residents support the plan because they are tired of the city's disinvestment, but the neighborhood association overall is against it.
  • One group (Brickville Community Benefits Alliance) has formed to oppose the redevelopment.
  • One group (Vision Brickville) has formed to support the redevelopment plan.
  • Elected public officials are mixed in their reactions to the plan. Some politicians are supportive because they see that the city has not been able to prevent or remediate the deterioration that has occurred in the Brickville area, and appreciate that a for-profit real estate developer has a plan. Others are skeptical and unsupportive, some of which because they were not consulted on the plans, although the proposed changes impact areas they represent.

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