Marvin Edwards, a long-time Cabrini-Green tenant and community leader, pulled up on West Scott Street at little after 7 a.m. today to watch as a wrecking crew started taking down the last of the public housing development's high-rises. Edwards didn't live in 1230 N. Burling, the building being demolished, but he had a lot of memories of the structure, both good and tragic. There was the time in the early 1980s when his sister, a musician, was practicing with a band called the Electric Force in 1230 N. Burling. During the session, a gang member shot the band's drummer, he said, mistaking him for someone else. Still, for Edwards, the swing of the wrecking ball this morning marked a bittersweet moment. "This is home. To see the final building about to come down brings tears to your eyes," Edwards said. "This was home to so many people."
When the demolition of 1230 N. Burling is complete much of the north side of Division Street between Halsted and Clybourn will be empty, awaiting future redevelopment; a new Target big box store could be among the mix. Edwards doesn't like that idea. He wants more housing built so displaced Cabrini-Green residents can return to the area where the high-rises once stood.
As Cabrini-Green's last high-rise comes down in the coming days and weeks, it is important to remember that battles over the future of public housing in Chicago are far from settled. A few miles north of where the demolition is happening today, community organizations and residents of the Lathrop Homes are pushing back against plans the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) has for those structures. The Chicago Reporter's Megan Cottrell covered the issue in a recent post:
The Logan Square Neighborhood Association says CHA recently issued 70 180-day notices to residents at Lathrop Homes, asking them to move south of Diversey Parkway to the other half of the development to consolidate residents for safety reasons. The association says it was told the development is unsafe because of a decline in the number of residents at Lathrop. But the association, which helps organize Lathrop residents, says it isn't buying that story. Why? Because the decline in population at Lathrop wasn't an accident, it says. Less people are living there because during a 10-year period as residents moved out, CHA didn't allow the apartments to be re-leased. Instead, each one was boarded up.