Woodlawn: Neighborhood in the crosshairs — Complex data explained in a new way

Two women walk along 61st Street in the opportunity zone just south of Woodlawn. (CityXones photo by John Konstantaras)


The plan to construct the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park has ignited debate in Chicago’s South Side neighborhoods over issues such as increasing taxes, rising rents and too few jobs and the possibility of gentrification.

The OPC may bring a surge of investment to the areas surrounding Jackson Park. Hyde Park-Kenwood, South Shore, and Woodlawn would surely feel the impact of this gentrification. Some people and businesses would benefit; others would be squeezed, perhaps even squeezed out.

The arguments over the effect of the OPC on the Woodlawn community have been ongoing for two years, much of that time in a vacuum over what was really there. The debate centers on past disinvestment and the potential future impact of the OPC.

In order to try to anticipate the effect on one community, the Herald teamed with long-time journalists and advanced information analysts to discover who owns what in Woodlawn, and to point to the potential impact of recent tax law changes.

This special section — www.hpherald.com/special-section — contains an up-to date story on the status of the development of the Obama Center, the legal maneuvering the Community Benefits Agreement and example of a community impacted by the gentrification process.

The section also reports on who owns what in Woodlawn, and one developer’s view of the possibilities. It examines the Opportunity Zones created in the 2017 Tax Law and their possible application in roughly half of Woodlawn.

The section includes numerous maps, stories and photos. However, the limitation of print is that it is very difficult to convey the complexity of this information. But online we can present interactive, complex maps where a reader can find who owns what, what land is vacant and what is tax-exempt.

The Herald’s partnership with a new journalistic enterprise — CityXones — has led to this unique way of presenting extremely complex information. In this instance, we are presenting very difficult-to-find data about Woodlawn’s present condition.

We hope that all parties will find useful this journalistic effort of presenting hard-to-find information. The city needs a resolution to the placement of the Obama Center in the President’s home city. We hope this section will move the conversation forward.