On July 1, 2014 at 10 in the morning, ground was broken on the northwest corner of 63rd and Halsted for Englewood Plaza, which will be anchored by the south side of Chicago's first Whole Foods grocery store.Ah the "dreaded G word" has come back to the surface. Many of the people including Mayor Emanuel who were seen in these videos talked a good game about building this store with the community. Ald. Thompson certainly spoke of Englewood's history and she's right young people now could say I remember when just as her generation did. In addition we certainly heard about the difficulty of finding fresh produce in the community.
As late as the 1950's, the shopping district centered around 63rd and Halsted (and extending for several blocks in all directions) was the second largest, in terms of dollar sales, after the Loop. Sears (with a Hillman's grocery store in the basement, Walgreens', Kresge's (a Woolworth's style five and dime),Wieboldts, L.Fish Furniture, Jewel Food Store, the Englewood and Southtown Theaters -- they were all there, within a few blocks of each other. What caused its decline should be a case study in any urban planning class.
At any rate, by the 1980's, Englewood was anthrax for retailers and housing developers. Former Mayor Daley's fast track demolition program only hastened the decline; from the air, on Google Maps, Englewood's residential neighborhoods are an almost unbroken stretch of green, denoting vacant lots where houses once stood.
Englewood's population has dropped by two-thirds since 1960. It's population in the last census, 30,000, is half that of Lincoln Park, the location of Chicago's first Whole Foods, and its median household income, at less than $20,000, is a quarter of Lincoln Park's. But I'm sure Whole Foods has run the numbers.
What I'm afraid of is that this is the city's way of telling Englewood's current residents that their days in that neighborhood are numbered, and that the bulk of future residential development in Englewood will be for those who CAN afford to pay $4.50 and up for a gallon of milk.
It's happened before. Lincoln Park's working-class Puerto Rican residents were gradually kicked out in favor of the upper-middle class and wealthy residents who live there now.
[VIDEO: PART 1 & PART 2]