Will pure lunacy result in pure hell at Bronzeville’s Rosenwald apartments?

Curbed recently took note of the issuance of a building permit for the $100M+ renovation of the Rosenwald Apartments at 47th St and Michigan Ave in Bronzeville. Plans call for a mix of family and seniors’ apartments and retail space.

Just over two years ago I walked the location with a group of long-time residents. Their consensus on the proposed redevelopment of the Rosenwald was summed up in the words of one of them: “pure lunacy.”

I also walked the neighborhood on my own and spoke with people working at some of the businesses along 47th St.

The residents’ opposition to the project was motivated by what struck me as a genuine concern for what life will be like for families and seniors who move into the Rosenwald. I’ll sum up their thinking and express it in a way they wouldn’t, but that is a fair summary of what I saw, heard and think I know from experience: “pure hell.”

The real tragedy of the Rosenwald redevelopment isn’t the stunning misallocation and waste of scarce resources for affordable housing. It’s the unavoidably foreseeable crushing of the hopes and dreams of the people who move in there.

If you’re inclined to think that the makeover of the Rosenwald will spur redevelopment along 47th St, I’ suggest you spend a day there.

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