Okay, I should say: I've taken classes at iO. I was taught by some great instructors there. I met some great people there, who I'm still friends with. I might even take classes at iO West when I move out to LA.
That said.... I will not cry about the Malling of Wrigleyville. Because Wrigleyville is already a mall.
It is a mall for people from the suburbs who view a trip to the city as a chance to be assholes. It is a mall for drunken former frat-guys and their bloated female equivalents to douche-ily hit on and/or hit each other. Half the bars are faux-Irish pubs with names like Drunky O'Shannahan's or TJ McCollarpop. The only difference is that now any bars will be owned by nationally-owned companies instead of regionally-owned chains.
But what about iO, someone might cry. They're a link with history! They're an integral part of the neighborhood! They give it charm!
Other than the fact that it would be nice to not have to associate with the wretched hive of scum and villainy that are the people of Wrigleyville after every show or push through drunk suburbanites to get to class on time, I really don't think Charna Halpern, owner/manager/whatever of iO, has the moral high ground.
Because she was for blandifying the neighborhood as long as she got a primo spot. Check the date on that. January 31, 2008.
It sucks that she got cheated of her deal. And I understand why she'd want to get that sweet deal in the first place. It's hard to get space, it's harder to get more space, especially in Lakeview/Wrigleyville.
But you can't moan and cry about gentrification when you were fine with it screwing everybody except you.
This might be a bad move for Wrigleyville. This might not be a great thing for iO. But if all these new businesses crash and burn, maybe some new black box theatre company or improv troupe will move in. Or new bars and restaurants.
Wrigleyville is not a hothouse flower. It doesn't need to be coddled. If it can survive the drunken jerks & the snobs who hate them, it can survive a Target or a Best Buy.
If there's anything that needs to change, it's the way that Daley & his Aldermen just rearrange real estate & zoning for these kind of Potemkin Village projects. And Alderman Waguepack is just as much a part of that system as Alderman Tunney.