Community assets are those built, natural, cultural and institutional elements that most define a neighborhood. They are anchor institutions, identity markers and community stabilizers. As such, they help guide local capital investment decisions.
Pilsen and Little Village’s legacy of large industry and water transport created some of the district’s strongest opportunities for future investment. The district has attracted substantial new investment in industrial facilities over the past 20 years to serve produce distributors, food processors, metal fabricators, toolmakers, and refrigerated storage companies. The newer facilities represent a small percentage of the district’s 1,600 acres of industrial land, much of which is now dedicated to low-value uses including garbage processing, recycling, truck maintenance, and storage of trailers and shipping containers. The district supports about 4,600 manufacturing jobs and 6,000 more in wholesaling, transportation and warehousing.
Like the industrial areas, the retail districts of Pilsen and Little Village are visibly healthier than in most other working-class neighborhoods in Chicago, with more than 1,000 small businesses spread along the commercial arteries of 18th Street, Blue Island Avenue, Cermak Road, 26th Street, and 31st Street.
Both communities have solid blocks of owner-occupied housing, often with decorative wrought-iron fences and recently tuckpointed brick. But about 70 percent of all households are renters, many living in older structures with leaky windows and outdated utilities. Owners and renters alike are “cost-burdened,” with about half in each category spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing. [Excerpted from Summary of Assets]