by Michael R. Allen
This photograph shows the corner building at 1975 Burd Avenue (at Wabada) in April 2005, before its demolition in October 2005. The bakery brick pattern at the cornice and the tiled roof porch over the entrance were fine distinctive features. Like many north side neighborhoods, Wells-Goodfellow, where this building was located, has lost many mix-used corner storefront buildings. These losses erode the bookends that hold blocks together. While walking the streets around here, one turns the corner to find a vacant lot rather than a landmark signifying this location. The impact of such loss on the neighborhood is obvious. Residents complain about the loss, but they also complain about having to live around so many vacant buildings.
Consequently, Alderman Jeffrey Boyd (D-22), whose ward includes Wells-Goodfellow, and residents have been working to leverage federal block grant funds to pursue historic district designation for buildings and sections of the ward. These designations create incentives for rehabilitation and investment. Sure, it is a long road, but the neighborhood has been down a longer road of decline. Things aren’t going to change overnight, but things won’t change at all without laying groundwork for reinvestment.