The Bainbridge, Georgian Court, and Linda Vista apartments along Armour Boulevard are home to over 400 residents, many of whom are families with young children, or are elderly and/or disabled. In the past year, a small but influential group of our neighbors have been working closely with the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association board and city officials to designate these properties as “socially blighted,” which will enable the city to shut down and then seize the buildings by eminent domain, and then relocate the residents without their knowledge or consent. This group has excluded members of the larger community and, most importantly, the Bainbridge residents themselves.
In order to pursue their goal, this group pushed for a commissioned study last year. (You can read the full study on our Facebook page.) The study attempts to label the properties as physically and socially blighted, but many questions have arisen as to the legitimacy of the study and its use as a tool to forcibly relocate the residents of Bainbridge.
Furthermore, Hyde Park residents should know that the study’s metrics for establishing physical blight could easily and successfully be applied to the surrounding blocks in North and South Hyde Park, Old Hyde Park, Squire Park, and Manheim Park. The study’s definition of physical blight includes broken window screens, leaning fences, and lack of landscaped right-of-ways. If such a loose definition of blight can be applied and used to seize a property by eminent domain, what will stop influential city and neighborhood leaders from applying the same metrics wherever they see new opportunities for development? What stops the influential few from using this new definition of blight to “assist with the relocation” of any neighbor they believe does not belong in Hyde Park?
Though it’s true that crime along Armour Boulevard has been a concern, the study alone does not provide a sound argument for shutting down the building. In fact, it shows the opposite: crime has actually decreased over the last five years. More importantly, the study was conducted without the knowledge or input of the residents or the property management company.
Neighbors within and surrounding the Bainbridge have every right to demand solutions to the crime that does exist in Hyde Park. We all live in this diverse and beautiful neighborhood with the understanding that we will be fair and conscientious neighbors, vigilant and proactive when we witness threats to our safety and security. But this small group, particularly the HPNA board, does not have the right to speak on behalf of all of us without our knowledge or consent, especially to forcibly remove our neighbors against their wills and without their input. Instead of working without transparency to “remove the problem” from our neighborhood, we believe Hyde Park residents and the entire Midtown community can work alongside the residents of The Bainbridge, Linda Vista, and Georgian Court, as well as the social service organization onsite, Phoenix Family Housing, to come up with more collaborative and positive methods to improve the neighborhood for all residents.
Please sign this petition urging the City Planning Commission to reject the blight study, and to encourage the HPNA to seek more creative and collaborative paths to improve our neighborhood for all residents.