North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council Remarks on the Proposed Sale of the Roosevelt and Kostner Site

The City of Chicago proposes to sell the site of Roosevelt and Kostner to Clarius Partners, LLC. Some of you may recall this was the site on which the North Lawndale Presidential Library Committee and UIC proposed that the Obama Presidential Library be built. At any rate, there was a public meeting of the Community Development Commission on Tuesday to discuss the matter. Clarius proposes to purchase the site for a combination of industrial and commercial use, the development of which will, hopefully, be completed in 3 phases over 4 years. This is a speculative deal and no tenants have entered into any leases.  While the land is in the Roosevet/Cicero TIF, no TIF funds will be used at this time.  Proceeds of the sale of the land will go into the TIF, and TIFWorks funds will be used to train workers for jobs that will be created as a result of the new development.

Crain’s Chicago Business ran an article the following day. We have submitted a request for further documentation under the Freedom of Information Act to get a copy of the developers presentation, staff report and other information that may be helpful to better understand the transaction and potential opportunities for community involvement. The developer will be present at the next Alderman’s meeting (August 25th at 6:00 at United Baptist Church, 4242 West Roosevelt) and the Westside Music Festival (Douglas Park August 20, 12 noon-9 pm, 1401 South Sacramento. They will more than likely be there early on in the program, around noon or so).  Clarius will do a series of presentations to community groups, and we (NLCCC) have indicated a desire to host a public meeting so that residents may ask questions and voice concerns.   We will keep you informed as we learn more.  In the meantime, we have attached a copy of the NLCCC remarks regarding the proposed land sale.

The meeting was well attended, considering short notice. (We learned of the meeting Monday afternoon, and shared information as soon as we got it.)  There were at least 30 people from North Lawndale, in our estimation.  Most people were supportive of the transaction, particularly given the fact that the land has been vacant over 30 years.  The major concerns include the fact that the developer has no women or minorities on staff; there are no apparent targets or guidelines for minority contracting and hiring; a desire for the community to have been better informed earlier; a need for better understanding of how the developer would follow through on local hiring; the difficulty in knowing what jobs to train people for, given the fact that it is not clear what tenants will occupy the space; the fact that the developer indicated they will come back to the community when the deal is “feasible”, versus ongoingly to get input into the project scope; desire for local hiring and construction contracting opportunities and questions about how to enforce developer incentives tied to job creation, salary level and local hiring. 
 
I couldn’t type as fast as the presenters were speaking so I don’t have exact numbers and terms. The incentives are also focused on the 60624 zipcode and 8 surrounding zipcodes. The incentives are a sliding scale, and I don’t have specific zip codes. Rather than write anything inaccurate, I will wait for the staff report and/or presentation and share it with you.  Generally speaking, the developers will purchase the land up front and get rebates phased in over time based on the degree to which they adhere to the hiring benchmarks.  The rebates will be passed through to the tenants.
 
Overall, this could be a great opportunity for the community, provided the developer and tenants adhere to local targets and folks from 60624 and 60623 are adequately represented in the labor force. It is very important that the community be proactive, and work with the developers to create win-win strategies for the community, developer, the tenants and the City of Chicago.
Respectfully submitted,
Valerie F. Leonard
 
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