City okays movie studio despite concerns it could lead to more displacement of Hispanic residents in Logan Square; Olson Rug waterfall once there
by BRIAN NADIG
The Chicago Plan Commission at its Feb. 18 meeting approved proposals to build movie studio sound stages at the former Marshall Field’s warehouse site at 4000 W. Diversey Ave. and to repurpose the former Magenta plastics plat at 3800 N. Milwaukee Ave. for a variety of uses.
Both projects were later approved by the City Council on Feb. 26.
The six-level Fields complex already includes apartments and a Cermak Fresh Market grocery store which the City Council approved several years ago. Prior to Marshall Field’s, Olson Rug occupied the site, which once include the Olson Waterfall and Rock Gardens.
Under the current proposal Knickpoint Ventures is seeking to amend the planned development ordinance governing the site’s zoning to allow for the addition of a new two-story building that would include several sound stages, retail space and two roof decks.
The project is estimated to cost $42.9 million, according to the city Department of Planning and Development. The site is located near the border of the Avondale and Logan Square neighborhoods.
The Logan Square Neighborhood Association issued a letter to the commission opposing the project, expressing concern that it would lead to further gentrification in the community.
“Patterns of displacement in recent years have shown how projects similar to this essentially wipe out long-standing immigrant-owned small businesses and rental housing that working-class families can afford,” the letter states.
The association adds, “Since 2000, Logan Square has lost more Hispanic residents than any other area of the city.”
The association also said that the community was not given adequate opportunities to learn about the project and to provide input. “There has been an egregious lack of transparency on this project,” the letter states.
Commission chairwoman Teresa Cordova urged city officials and commission members to “be mindful of the concerns” raised in the letter and said that the city should look into improving the rules on how communities are notified of zoning changes. Currently notification letters are sent to the owners of properties located within 250 feet of a development site.
City housing commissioner Marisa Novara expressed concern about slogans, such as “discover the undiscovered” and “we put the diverse in diversity,” which the developer was using to promote the project.
Novara said that the slogans felt “disrespectful” given that the history in the United States of claiming the discovery of places that have long been occupied.
The project was supported by Alderman Felix Cardona Jr. (31st), whose ward includes the development site, and the commission approved the proposal.
The project includes demolition work on the site, and plans call for the existing 623 parking spaces to remain.
The commission also approved the rezoning of the former Magenta factory from M1-1 to C2-1, to allow for new tenants, including an indoor soccer facility, a Spanish immersion school, an athletic training center and an inflatable children’s party place.
A taxicab facility already is located inside the 130,000-square-foot building. Yellow Cab relocated to the site because a Portillo’s Hot Dogs was constructed at its previous location near Addison Street and Kimball Avenue, according to the department.
The project would create up to 75 new job opportunities, according to the department. Alderman James Gardiner (45th) issued a letter of support for the project.
(Picture supplied by NW Chicago Historical Society)