NLCCC in the Media: Involve Community Residents in the Development of Roosevelt and Kostner

We thank those of you who have taken the time to comment on the Crain’s letter regarding the proposed development on Kostner and Roosevelt. Your comments are insightful and, it gave us pleasure to see the love and support from you. Some of you were not able to read the letter because you don’t have a subscription.  Here is the text to the letter we shared.

August 16, 2016

Last week, Crain’s Chicago Business wrote that the developer Clarius Partners had proposed an industrial development at the northeast corner of Roosevelt Road and Kildare Avenue that would total 320,000 square feet, including 61,000 square feet of retail space. The source was a report prepared for the Chicago Community Development Commission, which unanimously approved the sale of the 21-acre city-owned development site to Clarius.

As the North Lawndale Coordinating Council, we have an interest in this development. We’re a group of community leaders, business owners and elected officials who have long been working to improve the built environment in our neighborhood and to increase the capacity of local organizations to make a positive impact on the community.

It should be noted that North Lawndale has not had a comprehensive planning process in over 50 years, and this particular site has been the source of community angst for decades. The site was one of the illegal dumping sites associated with Operation Silver Shovel back in the 1990’s. Later on, a movie studio was proposed for the site, and then a major grocery store. Neither development came to fruition. Most recently, this site was selected for the UIC-North Lawndale Obama Presidential Library bid. When the site was not selected, the community was disappointed once again.

Such rejection hurts us more than most communities, since we have had very little success attracting large scale sustainable development that benefits local residents.

We’re cautiously optimistic that there is a proposal, and we’re eager to know more about it. Our council supports development that is consistent with our core values of transparency, accountability and sincere and authentic community engagement. We invite Clarius Partners to provide input into our comprehensive planning process currently under way. We urge them to share more details about their proposed development with the community in public settings and we demand that they are open to questions and input.

But there are conditions that any developer seeking support from our community should deliver upon—conditions that maximize opportunities for current residents and local business owners. This includes:

• adhering to an agreement to prioritize local hiring;

• taking advantage of tax credits for hiring ex-offenders and very low income people

• tapping into TIFWorks funding to train and hire local residents to work in the business concerns that will be developed there

• helping these local businesses take advantage of federal HUB Zone certifications

• putting legally-binding mechanisms in place so that local residents, minority contractors, women-owned businesses and other disadvantaged businesses get a chunk of the contracting opportunities.

We don’t just want promises. We ask that Clarius track progress towards these goals and share updates with the community from time to time. In fact, we’d be more than happy to provide links to these reports on the NLCCC website (http://nlcccplanning.org)

In closing, we look forward to a development process that is transparent, inclusive and impactful to the North Lawndale community.

Sincerely,

Members of the NLCCC Executive Subcommittee:

Valerie F. Leonard, consulting@valeriefleonard.com
Rodney Brown, rodney@new-covenantcdc.org
Dennis Deer, drdeer@deerehabservices.com

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