B&B article ignores Kenwood history

To the Editor:

Lindsay Welbers’ Dec. 11, 2013 article regarding the desire of a commercial enterprise to develop two private homes in Kenwood solely for commercial — not residential owner-occupied —purposes, ignores certain salient facts regarding the prior history, and importance, of single-family, owner-occupied housing in homes originally designed for such purposes in Kenwood.

First, from a historical perspective, it is important to remember the original premise of the racially and economically diverse group of residents (primarily mothers) in the early 1960s who literally saved Kenwood from the “block-busters” (and formed the Kenwood Real Estate Committee that became the Kenwood Open House Committee) by insisting that the zoning for single-family, stand-alone homes be maintained as owner-occupied single-family, and that the illegal “boarding/rooming houses” of the post-World War II era be stopped before all of the neighborhood was destroyed.  Their efforts, memorialized on the Hyde Park – Kenwood Community Conference website (hydepark.org) and in articles such as the following from 1963 (bit.ly/JIzpDp) successfully led to the preservation of the high-quality, diverse neighborhood that exists today.

Second, Ms. Welbers and others who reference supposedly similar other B&Bs are not making parallel comparisons: the few other B&Bs noted are owner-occupied homes (e.g., Kossiakoff’s) in which the B&B function is only a small aspect of the overall home and is not a commercial enterprise in the mode of what appears to be contemplated by the Pritzker organization. In addition, the prior B&B projects of the Pritzker organization appear to be in mixed residential neighborhoods  — not stand-alone, single family home settings like Kenwood; rezoning would allow other commercial entities to come into the neighborhood with similar projects or multi-unit housing in single-home settings.

Carol B. Eckstein