I’ve been watching the construction of my town’s new village hall (Arlington Heights, IL) over the past year (I drive by it on my daily commute). And, as it prepares to open in a week, I can’t help but be amazed at how the new building stands in comparison to what is happening in aging suburban areas everywhere … that is, replacing good, functional buildings with expensive, opulent ones to present an “upscale” look.
Now, granted, the old village hall was in need of replacement. It was built in the 60s and, like most municipal buildings in it time, was a structurally sound, but bland looking building that served the purpose of the village business. The town has grown exponentially since then, and village services were squeezed by the constraints of the structure.
The new building is a three-story marvel that features high ceilings, a main courtyard and a third-story garden terrace. There is obviously more room to conduct business in, but the facade and amenities of the new structure now overwhelm the block it sits on.
Now, take a look at some of the original neighborhoods in town, where small but surely functional — and affordable — homes have been torn down to be replaced by opulent, multi-story, and much more expensive ones that overwhelm the houses surrounding them.
Yes, Arlington Heights has a new village hall big enough to handle its business. But I can’t help but look at it and think “Is this a monument to an unspoken philosophy to replace functional with opluent … and to turn away those who would like to live here but can’t afford it?”