Our history is shamed by teardowns

To the Editor:

Inaugurated with a chorus of 5,200 voices, the World’s Columbian Exposition brought 20 million visitors to Hyde Park. From that moment forward, Chicago entered the ranks of a world-class city.

To showcase the possibilities of our community, C.A. Kapp, a local property owner, built at 5110-14 Jefferson Street (now Harper Avenue) a triad of urban homes, attached to each other with beautifully carved stone detailing. When acquired 117 years later by MAC Property Management, their community development representative told us in the Herald: “This façade is unbuildable today. The real crime would be to let it deteriorate so far that it would have to be torn down.”

Twelve days later, amid community accolade, MAC presented a re-development plan for the nearby Village Center and received from our neighborhood TIF $11.3 million of local tax dollars. Last week MAC, a private New Jersey company, demolished these three historic homes now saying they were “unable to find a way to rehabilitate the building affordably.” In this callous manner “the real crime” was committed, and every property owner has suffered a loss.

Clearly it is time for the tax-paying supporters of our long-standing, forward-looking community to re-evaluate decision-making at the local level.

Sam Guard