Cabrini Cliffhanger

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Late in July, CHA and the Cabrini-Green Local Advisory Council signed an agreement that would allow for the demolition of six more public housing high-rises in exchange for resident control over the redevelopment. Under the agreement, residents would get 51 percent interest in the general partnership that would redevelop a large part of Cabrini. That partnership plans to build more than 2,000 units, of which 900 would go to people who qualify for public housing.

But the agreement was blocked on July 30 when federal Judge Marvin Aspen said the Habitat Company must agree to all public housing redevelopment. The legal battles continue.

In the following article, RJ correspondent Cecelia A. Clark covers one presentation of what a portion of the Near North community could look like in the near future and how these plans will affect residents.

Near North Redevelopment, Halsted North in Cabrini

The plans to redevelop Cabrini-Green could benefit a lot of residents. But in my surveys and conversations, I found that very few residents know anything about the redevelopment. I stopped many residents at random on the south end of Cabrini-Green and asked them about RMCs (resident management corporations), new jobs in the community and private management. Nobody was certain what was going to happen, who it was going to happen to or when.

At the beginning of this month, I attended a meeting for Cabrini-Green residents about a small fraction of what lies ahead for the community.

This building at 1150-1160 N. Sedgwick may come down under the agreement reached by residents and CHA. Photo by Cecelia A. Clark.

The Steppenwolf Theater, 1650 N. Halsted St., was the setting for an early morning community meeting Aug. 8 with Cabrini-Green residents, including Local Advisory Council members. We attended the community meeting to hear presentations by two development companies.

The currently-vacant Halsted North area is bounded by Division on the south and North Avenue on the north along Halsted Street on the west and the line which used to be Ogden Avenue on the east.

Visual plans for the redevelopment were on display in a reception area for everyone to view.

City Housing Commissioner Julia Stasch gave opening remarks and explained that the theater was chosen because it was a comfortable, available space.

Ald. Walter Burnett (27) explained his support for the redevelopment: “I had to block out all emotions to do what was best for the community.”

Burnett also talked about how Cook County Recorder of Deeds Jessie White approved of what he was doing.

“I want to thank all of you for coming because your input is very important,” Burnett told the 60 or so people who came to the event.

“This has always been a mixed community with people from all nationalities and economical backgrounds.”

Cora Moore, Cabrini-Green’s Local Advisory Council president, said, “I’m glad to see the residents here today. This is a great day and opportunity. Great experiences are about to happen around Cabrini-Green.”

Cabrini-Green's Local Advisory Council President Cora Moore speaking at an early morning community meeting. Photo by Cecelia A. Clark.

Moore also asked the residents to pay attention because their input was very important.

The Presenters

Southwest Old Town Development Associates included Chicago-based firms MCL Companies, Dan McLean, principal; LR Development Company, Bruce Abrams, principal; Granite Development Corporation, Joseph Williams and Larry Huggins, principals; Wrightwood Development, Mickey Brown, principal;

S&Z Development Co, Michael Supera and Richard Zisook, principals; and Roy H. Kruse &Associates, Roy Kruse, principal.

Southwest Old Town’s proposal called for the construction of 270 units, 50 percent (or 134 units) of which would be market rate. Twenty percent (or 55 units) would be affordable rentals and 30 percent (or 81 units) would be reserved for CHA residents.

After the presentation, the floor was opened for questions and comments. Residents wanted to know why Dan McLean wasn’t at the meeting? McLean is a developer who built Mayor Richard M. Daley’s home in South Loop a few years ago. More recently, he has been heavily involved in the redevelopment directly around Cabrini-Green and he has made numerous proposals about tearing down Cabrini buildings and replacing them with a mixed-income community.

Though many of the residents at the meeting had heard of McLean, they never learned why he wasn’t at the meeting.

Margo Crawford, a former principal of Depaul University Alternative High School, which was housed at Near North High School until it closed, had this to say: “Dan McLean, along with others, was instrumental in closing this program.”

Crawford added, “The school was honoring and respecting the community’s wishes when Depaul told me, ‘There is no community and you don’t have to respect anything in Cabrini. This is only in your mind.’”

Crawford warned everyone in attendance to be watchful of anyone connected to Depaul University.

Al Carter of the Al Carter Youth Foundation had this to say: “With all the deception going on, I don’t see Dan McLean getting this contract.”

Up next was the Holsten-Kenard Redevelopment Plan. The Holsten Real Estate Development Corporation and the Kenard Corporation have more than 20 years of experience building housing in various neighborhoods throughout the city, according to their literature. Their proposal called for the construction of 271 units, with 82 units of public housing, 54 units of affordable housing and 135 units of market-rate housing. The units would be in mid-rise and four-story buildings as well as six flats, townhomes and single family units.

The residents’ concerns were jobs, accessible units as well as public housing units and the size of these units. After the meeting, there were breakout sessions for more input on issues of: Architectural Design and Site Planning; Housing Cost and Affordability; Chicago Housing Authority issues; General Near North Redevelopment; and Community Job Training and Economic Development.

Input from breakout sessions was evaluated by the panel. The hosts of the event said the outcome of the breakout sessions would be shared at a later date and time.

A Word of Advice

RJ will keep bringing you the ‘scoops’ from Cabrini-Green.

But residents: you need to start holding everyone accountable. Start attending meetings. Ask your Local Advisory Council for information about all of these new ideas coming into the community.

During this meeting, one of the developers told me they already had residents lined up for construction jobs. That was the first I had heard about new jobs for residents.

Very few residents know how or when private management is taking over. This is also important information that every resident needs to have.

At the end of a TV series, there is always an exciting cliffhanger which has the viewers on the edge of their seats. Who shall it be? The Southwest Old Town Development or the Holsten-Kenard redevelopment for Halsted North? What will the judge’s final decision for Cabrini be? Will each and every resident of Cabrini ever be informed as these events unfold or shall they have to obtain it at the beginning of next year’s fall series?

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