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Obama vs. The Community Activist Racket

Chicago Daily Observer 25 July 2018 One Comment

From City Lab

While the university is not actively involved in the development of the OPC, it did help spearhead the bid process that brought it to the South Side and is a major donor. For Malone, the hotel and student housing complex “confirmed suspicions that this wasn’t an altruistic move by the university, but is an attempt to leverage the legacy of the first black president of the United States to continue to beef up the university’s endowment.”


The former president’s rhetoric has not helped build trust, either. At a community meeting in February, Obama appeared to dismissresidents’ concerns about gentrification. “We’ve got such a long way to go in terms of economic development before you’re even going to start seeing the prospect of significant gentrification,” he said. “Malia’s kids might have to worry about that.”

To Malone, Obama’s comments were so far afield that he suspects the president is following talking points set forth by the university and city hall. “If those were his true feelings—and I want to underscore, ‘if’—he’s completely divorced from reality,” Malone said. The real estate analytics company Redfin named Woodlawn, the neighborhood closest to the library site, the third “hottest” neighborhood in the U.S. for the first half of 2017, with median home values increasing over 18 percent. Major provisions in the proposedcommunity benefits agreement are designed to protect against rising home values, including a freeze on property taxes within a two-mile radius of the project, and new inclusionary zoning rules. Neighborhood activists hope to enshrine these provisions in law by getting the city council to ratify the agreement as a community benefits ordinance.

One Comment »

  • Terry P. said:

    Considering that the neighborhoods surrounding Hyde Park have been the biggest existential threat to the University of Chicago for over 60 years now, forcing it to create its own police department to keep crime and violence at bay, it is hard for me to see how the university “owes” those neighborhoods anything at all. The more it is forced to engage in “altruism,” the less it will be able to keep doing the things that made it a great university in the first place–not that these “activists” care about that…

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