Potentially unfounded gentrification fears aid political pandering by paralysis? Hopefully not.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Please read the petition that some people in University Village are circulating; sign it if you agree with it and pass it along to others you know who may be interested in this issue.

Vacant land for residential and other development is almost non-existent in Pilsen. Yet, just north of the railroad tracks at 16th Street, there are acres of vacant Chicago Housing Authority land in our community that by federal district court order must be developed into a mixed-income community known as Roosevelt Square.

Small single family, two, three or six flat dwellings along with some larger nine and twelve flats on busier streets are the predominant buildings in Pilsen. So why has the effort by Property Markets Group (PMG), a sophisticated New York City development company, to develop its 7.85 acre site in east Pilsen along the railroad tracks at Peoria St. been stalled for three years?

PMG entered the Chicago market by acquiring modest, multi-unit apartment buildings in a variety of conditions all over the city (a few are shown above in the slideshow). Some of the buildings were in good shape and others needed a great deal of work, which they performed immediately. The company then went on to develop the “L,” a new transit-oriented development in Logan Square, set to complete this June.

PMG began its effort to develop property it owns in our community at 14th St. and Union Ave. not long after it began its effort with the Pilsen site and will likely begin construction on its Union Ave. site this year after Alderman Balcer and his successor, Alderman Patrick Daley Thompson, worked with PMG and residents near 14th and Union in University Village and University Commons through three iterations of the design. Yet, nothing in Pilsen.

Alderman Solis has been subjected to a great deal of anger by some people in Pilsen who are concerned about gentrification so his reticence to proceed is understandable. But, Chicago needs economic development of many varieties to grow its tax base to successfully meet the overwhelming fiscal cliff it’s facing and it’s in the best interests of communities and their elected representatives to collaborate with companies that bring much needed economic development to our city, not stall and frustrate them.

Our community has more than its fair share of subsidized housing and is slated to get hundreds of additional very low-income and affordable units in Roosevelt Square. Alderman Solis can work with the CHA, our community and Related Midwest to address what may be quite unfounded fears of gentrification that some Pilsen residents have. There’s plenty of land to develop with housing for people of all income levels.