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SE Side wants to benefit from USX development

With nearly $100 million in TIF funds being spent on the first phase of a massive development on the south lakefront, a community summit on Saturday will discuss strategies to win a community benefits agreement for the project.

The Coalition for a Lakeside CBA meets Saturday, September 7, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 3200 E. 91st.

Jennifer Epps-Addison of the Partnership for Working Families will discuss how community benefits agreements (CBAs) across the country have won opportunities for local workers and communities, and Tom Tresser of CivicLab will present an analysis of all TIFs in three local wards.

The Coalition will also release results of a new survey of Southeast Side residents.

Site developer McCaffrey Interests has been granted $96 million in TIF support from the city for the first phase of a vast new redevelopment of the former site of US Steel’s South Works (USX) plant, dubbed Chicago Lakeside.  Ultimately McCaffrey plans over 13,000 units of housing, 17.5 million square feet of retail, 125 acres of parks and a 1,500-slip marina.

The TIF subsidy will cover one-fourth of development costs for the first phase of the project, which will include 1 million square feet of retail and restaurants and 848 units of housing.  The first phase is planned for the northwest corner of the 530-acre site, which runs south from 79th Street along the lakefront to the Calumet River.

Concerns about displacement

A major concern is that development could cause displacement in the adjoining area, as it has in other communities, with property tax increases as home values rise forcing longtime residents to leave, said Amelia NietoGomez of the Alliance of the South East, an organizer of the coalition.

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Completing Lakefront Park Plan

The first of three community meetings of a new plan to complete the south lakefront park system will be held this Wednesday, October 25, at 7 p.m. at The Zone, 11731 S. Avenue O.

The plan will also be aired November 16 at the Rainbow Beach fieldhouse and November 21 at the South Chicago library.

The October 25 meeting is cosponsored by Friends of the Parks, the Southeast Environmental Task Force, the South East Chicago Historical Society and the Calumet Ecological Park Association. It’s part of Friends of the Parks’ “Last Four Miles” initiative, which is engaging communities to develop concept plans for the last four miles of Chicago’s thirty-mile lakefront which remains outside the park system.

“We were looking for ways to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the 1909 Burnham Plan, which called for the entire lakefront to be public parkland,” said Eleanor Roemer of FOTP. The initiative “builds of a long history of citizens working to ensure public access to the lake,” she said.

A community design charette in May considered ideas for lakefront stretches from 71st to 75th streets and the section south of 79th to 95th street which includes the former USX site and Port of Chicago facilities. Draft planning concepts, which include a variety of alternatives, are being presented at meetings with neighborhood groups as well as the three public community meetings.

Community input will be incorporated into a consensus plan which will be exhibited at the Chicago Architecture Foundation this winter and at community sites. It will also be presented to the city and the Chicago Park District.

FOTP expects the planning process can serve as a model for a subsequent effort to open two miles of northside lakefront, from Hollywood to Evanston, to public access, Roemer said.



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