The Area

David Schalliol’s documentary is an eye-opening saga of resistance in Englewood’s 20th Ward to a land grab by the Norfolk Southern Railway, which, after the housing market crash in 2008, quietly began buying and demolishing homes to expand its 47th Street intermodal shipping yard. Over five years the indefatigable activist Deborah Payne, galvanized by the steady decimation of her beloved neighborhood at 57th Street and Normal, rallies other residents to oppose the railway and protest the city’s disinterest in homeowners, who are being offered only fair-market value for their properties amid a historic plunge in housing prices. After the City Council—including the two-timing 20th Ward alderman, Willie Cochran—votes to sell off 105 vacant city lots to the railroad, Payne (who’s listed in the credits as a producer) turns to preserving the quality of life on the occupied blocks. Continue reading>>