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'We've Been Pushed Out,' Logan Square Teens Protest Gentrification

Malcolm Washington, 20, speaks about the gentrification that he says will force his family out of their Logan Square home.
DNAinfo/Joe Ward

LOGAN SQUARE — Eric Nunez has lived in Logan Square for all of his 15 years, but says his family won't be able to stay long if things keep changing so rapidly. 

Sometime last year, when his favorite Mexican bakery on Milwaukee Avenue closed, he went to check out what replaced it. 

"Some trendy business," Nunez said. "The luxury homes and trendy businesses, I feel, are not for me. We see it as being pushed out."

Nunez and about 50 other teenagers and supporters took to a California Avenue sidewalk near The 606 trail Tuesday to say "no more" to the forces that have made Logan Square unaffordable for some families.

RELATED: Development Boom Highlights A Changing Logan Square

The group, organized by the Logan Square Neighborhood Association and Grassroots Illinois Action, chose the 1800 block of North California Avenue for a reason: it was a perfect example of the gentrification in the neighborhood, they said.

"Once I pay my rent, all my money's spent!" chanted the group as they rallied in front of a dirt mound that they said will soon be turned into luxury apartments. The developer had done the same with the building directly next door, and has plans for about 10 properties on the block in total, the group said.

"We've been pushed out of our neighborhoods," said Eduardo Cordero, 16, who helped organize the rally. "Do you think these buildings are meant for people who've lived here for a long time?"

The massive and rapid development of the block is certainly tied to its proximity to The 606 trail, which residents had been fighting for for years but ultimately led to more gentrification and unaffordable rents, the group said.

"We've been working for years to make this neighborhood better and safer, and now we can't live here," Cordero said.

A Redfin study released in November challenged the claim that the trail has created a spike in home prices. And some business owners say the overall upgrade in housing has boosted local commerce.

Members of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association said they are meeting with Ald. Proco Joe Moreno (1st) to discuss ways to keep longtime area residents in Logan Square. Moreno has supported many developers, but has pressed them to include affordable units on site rather than pay fees to avoid city housing requirements.

Malcolm Washington, 20, said he lives with his family about a half block from rally scene. He said his family has weathered a lot of change in the neighborhood.

But he doubts his family has much longer. His parents are already looking at suburban houses, he said.

"It's been insane how fast [the change] was," Washington said. "My family has maybe a year left."

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