Chicago Home Sales Dented by Racist 'Yard Art'

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It's hard enough to sell a home sitting next to a neighbor who refuses to mow their lawn and patch up a dilapidated roof, or one that plays music with rib-rattling subwoofers turned up to 11 in the wee hours of the night, but what happens when a man living on your block posts racist signs on his garage?

The answer, for the West Beverly, Chicago neighborhood is the affirmation of a long-held reputation along with a fixed ceiling on demand and property values.

"I dont see too many African-American buyers who decide they want to look in that market, and as a result, their market is limited, which does in turn affect property values," said Nike Fasanya, owner, president and CEO of Marvel Ventures Mortgage Inc., based in Chicago.
Fasanya explains that Beverly is split up into four different regional zones, with homes in the racially diverse north and east areas having the best value. Residents here are typically white-collar workers with higher education.

In the western region of Beverly, where the racist incident occurred last week, the population is more homogeneous, predominantly made up of white, blue-collar workers of Irish descent. This zone "is affected by the notoriety of its population, and their open and aggressive form of active racial discrimination," according to Fasanya, whose office is located in Beverly.

"I have had Caucasians call and set up appointments with me, walk into my office, see that I am black, turn around and walk right back out the door," Fasanya said.

She finds it funny that the presidency of Barack Obama has been heralded as a breakthrough in race relations. "I actually see it the other way. Racial hatred is too ingrained and too complex to be overturned by an event, even one as grand as the presidency."

Fasanya added that though she has lived in several other countries and states, "the racial tensions on the South Side of Chicago are unparalleled."

Last Wednesday, Michael Corrigan drew the ire of community activists with his display of crudely posted words proclaiming "SAY NO TO THE GHETTO," "WHITE POWER," and "MT GREENWOOD THE NEXT ENGLEWOOD," next to signs reading "God Bless America" and "White Power World Wide" on his garage, along with a small noose hanging beside the hateful display.

"It's just yard art," Corrigan said.

A pig donning sunglasses and a blue hat, or maybe even a sprinkler in the form of a vomiting man might be considered yard art, but this? Not a chance.

After receiving a good deal of attention from the media, protesters, passersby and law enforcement, Corrigan, 62, decided to cover up the galling signs with a blue tarp and take down the noose.

The display faced an unfortunate three-bedroom, single-family bungalow for sale next to Corrigan, located at 9945 S. Fairfield Ave. in Beverly, listed for $237,000. When reached by phone, the realtor for the listing declined to comment, but we can imagine a well-publicized crazy neighbor wouldn't be a very good selling point.

In January 2008, Frank Rosci wrote about the negative effect bad neighbors have on home values in the Jewish Exponent, though his piece focused on neighbors who failed to upkeep their properties. "Good neighbors" can try to have a heart-to-heart with the offender, but in most cases these situations amount to nothing more than nuisances with no legal recourse, according to the article.

Though Corrigan has expressed his desire to keep his 9900 block of Fairfield Avenue in West Beverly neighborhood as white as possible, Beverly as a whole, is already a very diverse residential district of Chicago. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, Beverly is 32.3 percent black, up from 24.2 percent in 1990. Back in 1960, only 0.1 percent of Beverly was "Negro."

The neighborhood, known for its architecture, tree-lined streets and bungalows, has had religious and racial friction in its past. Before opposition to the arrival of black residents, the Ku Klux Clan burned crosses in front of the first Catholic church in Beverly in 1924, when the neighborhood was mostly Protestant.

Today's Beverly is quite different. "Unlike some Chicago communities, Beverly is truly integrated," said a resident interviewed for a profile of the community written by Leslie Mann at the Chicago Tribune. There are always exceptions, of course.

See listings of homes for sale in Beverly, Chicago at AOL Real Estate.
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