Ghost town, suburban O’Hare industrial property edition

Ghost towns in the American West are well-known. Recognized less frequently are suburban communities or neighborhoods that disappear. A neighborhood of over 100 homes in Bensenville will be demolished to expand industrial facilities near O’Hare Airport:

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The 106 houses where people had raised families since 1956 will be gone.

Rising in their place will be 1.2 million square feet of top-of-the-line industrial space in four buildings…

By knocking down the houses, the new owners will have a 68-acre site in a very hot O’Hare International Airport industrial real-estate submarket…

When the project was proposed, “I thought about what happened to Bensenville with the O’Hare project,” DeSimone said. He means the loss of about 600 homes and businesses near York and Irving Park roads in 2009 when Chicago bought the properties to expand the airport.

The area surrounding O’Hare Airport is desirable because of the amount of passenger and freight traffic that goes through the airport each year. Because of its particular location, the airport is near all sorts of land uses, including residences. This has caused noise problems over the years and this agreement seems to be a mixed bag: the residents got a lot of money for their money and they were not forced into the change but an established neighborhood of 65 years will be gone and the suburb of Bensenville continues to lose residents.

How will the neighborhood be remembered? Will it be commemorated in any physical way beyond the memories of the residents who used to live there? This is the opposite of what many assume will happen with suburbs and American communities. The expectation is for continual growth while population stagnation or loss is seen as undesirable. To have a neighborhood with its homes, families, and activity disappear is not a thought many would want to dwell on.

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