Rant of the Week: Lynn Becker on the demise of a landmark Chicago/Michigan newsstand

July 20, 2009 · Print This Article

I’m back with fresh harangues! I haven’t found any truly worthy candidates in awhile but yesterday the Chicago architecture critic Lynn Becker posted a screed that pleased me greatly in its justifiable outrage. One of Chicago’s last 24-hour newsstands was torn down seemingly overnight by the French firm JCDecaux. Writes Becker:

“It’s another pound of flesh being extracted by JCDecaux S.A., the French firm with which the city signed a 2002, 20 year, $200 million deal for a monopoly on the city’s bus shelters. As with the recent parking meter deal, the Daley administration continues to turn control of Chicago’s streets over to private interests, and now we have things like a new Pritzker Park in the South Loop, where a huge area has been left unlandscaped to provide JCDecaux a place to put one of the food concessions promised them as part of the deal.

Crain’s Ann Saphir reported on Friday that the destruction of the Chicago Michigan newsstand was still another manifestation of JCDecaux’s control, as they will be constructing their own replacement beginning “at the end of the month.”

And, of course, while the city makes sure Decaux is taken care of, the newsstand’s proprietor, Anil Modi, who works long hours to keep his business going, gets screwed. He apparently gets to return, but no matter how long it takes to build Decaux’s stand, he’ll receive not a penny of compensation for all the lost income, no doubt part of the city’s strategy to just make him go away.”

Make sure to read the full post at ArchitectureChicago Plus. UPDATE: The City has erected a new newstand for Mr. Modi in record time. Becker blogs about it in an update post here.

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