LOGAN SQUARE — More than a dozen young people with the neighborhood group Logan Square Neighborhood Association braved the freezing temperatures Wednesday to protest a proposed music venue they say will lead to the displacement of longtime residents.
The youth leaders are calling on Ald. Felix Cardona Jr. (31st) and Logan Square/Hermosa residents to reject the music venue planned for 2537 N. Pulaski Road.
They argue the so-called “hipster concert venue” will drive up rents and property taxes and ultimately push longtime residents out of their homes.
“We fundamentally believe that this zoning change will tear our community apart just like The 606 and just like Thalia Hall in Pilsen,” Traolach O’Sullivan, 17, said at the protest Wednesday evening.
O’Sullivan was among 15 who gathered at the building Wednesday evening to protest the proposal.
Holding signs that read, “Concert venue = displacement” and “Ald. Cardona, do the right thing,” the group chanted, “Logan Square, no se vende” and other chants in Spanish.
The protest, which only lasted about 15 minutes, comes a few days before the community meeting, which is set for noon Saturday. Cardona Jr. has said he wants to hear from the broader community before he signs off on the zoning change needed to open the venue.
At the protest, the youth leaders urged 31st Ward residents to show up to the meeting and make their voices heard.
“Logan Square is a neighborhood that has suffered tremendous change and tremendous loss. Since 2000, 19,000 Hispanic families have been displaced. And it’s not by accident,” O’Sullivan said.
Jimmy Jimenez, 16, was born and raised in the Logan Square/Hermosa area. Growing up, Jimenez said he watched Latino families get displaced and luxury condos go up.
“The concert venue will contribute to everything I mentioned and more,” Jimenez said at Wednesday’s protest.
The music venue proposal was drawn by a trio of partners led by Mark Falanga, who runs the private equity firm VentureMark, Inc.
Falanga told Block Club the venue would offer a live music calendar of local and touring bands and house a mini food hall serving pizza, sandwiches and the like. It would be called Present Company.
The developers need Cardona Jr. to sign off on a zoning change because the building is currently zoned for industrial and manufacturing use. Most recently, the building was home to a marble manufacturing plant but it has sat vacant for 11 years.
Asked about the protest earlier this week, Falanga shot down the notion that a music venue would cause displacement.
“There’s really no empirical evidence, no clear studies that we’ve found that provides a linkage between a live music venue and residential displacement,” the developer previously said.
Falanga said while he finds it “encouraging that people have opinions,” rejecting this proposal is rejecting “a lot of opportunities for people in the immediate area.”
The venue, he said, would not only bring people together through live music and food, but it would also generate 150 new jobs and bring business to nearby retailers.
Saturday’s community meeting will be held at the industrial building, 2537 N. Pulaski Road. It will kick off at noon.
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