Editorial: MAC’s major misstep

As we were going to press, just one of three adjacent townhomes owned by MAC Properties/Antheus Capital at 5110-5114 S. Harper Ave. remained standing. The other two were destroyed by a demolition crew, and we think it quite likely that the third will be gone by the time you are reading this.

These greystones, built in 1892 just steps away from Hyde Park founder Paul Cornell’s home, are, in MAC’s view, in the way of a plan for Harper Avenue. They are in the way of the needs of City Hyde Park, the massive Antheus high-rise that is slated for the entire block on the southwest corner of Hyde Park Boulevard and Lake Park Avenue, and just across from these properties on Harper Avenue.

You see, City Hyde Park needs parking, and parking, in the estimation of the leadership of MAC and Antheus, is worth more than some old buildings. It does not matter if they are irreplaceable — what matters is what City Hyde Park needs.

When developers destroy historic properties for the sake of a convenient parking pad, there can be no question that their values are not in line with those of our community — even if some of their actions are praiseworthy. MAC recently received a reward for its painstaking restoration of the Shoreland Hotel — a laudable achievement. What the leveling of these properties tells us is that the rehabilitation at the Shoreland, 5454 S. Shore Dr., is a happy accident for our neighborhood, that if it had made more sense strategically to tear the Shoreland down, if that would have advanced the profit-driven agenda of MAC and Antheus, they would have done so.

For those less acquainted with the history of Hyde Park, we sacrificed a lot of historic housing stock in a bid to stabilize our community in the middle of the 20th century. Such a high-stakes gamble — which paid off — means we cannot afford to arbitrarily destroy what remains. Anyone who would do so turns a blind eye to history.

In other words, this teardown is a textbook example of what not to do in our community.