November 30th, 2006 5:33 pm | by Stacy Riger News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP

Trouble in Wonderland (Alberta Street, That Is)

Francis graffitiLast Sunday, 43-year-old restaurateur Christopher Pierce arrived at his new restaurant on Northeast Alberta Street to find the locks on his doors filled with Super Glue, a little trick that cost him $500 to repair.

Today, he was greeted by a spray painted message reading "Gentrification This Way" and arrows pointing towards the door of his business. The graffiti has not yet been cleaned up.

"I have cedar planking," Pierce says. "I don't know if I'll be able to get the graffiti off without painting, which would ruin the look of the building and probably cost thousands of dollars."

"It was probably those little undereducated, tattooed punks who don't even live in the neighborhood who did it," he added.

In years past, a number of businesses on Alberta have been targeted by vandals apparently incensed by the influx of new businesses to the street. Alberta is at the heart of a racially diverse neighborhood that has seen a dramatic increase in both cachet and real-estate values in the last decade. That revitalization (or gentrification, if you prefer) has spurred fears that the area's longstanding African-American community could be priced out.

Pierce, who is white, has lived in the Alberta neighborhood for 15 years. His new restaurant, Francis, specializes in "craftsmanship and comfort," and will be open for business despite the latest decorations to his building.

Police Sgt. Brian Schmautz said that there is currently no plan to increase patrolling, as there has not been a statistical increase of graffiti in the area.

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