UBAM President Anita Cummings and 22nd Ward Ald. Michael Rodriguez listen to feedback from UBAM members about the LeClaire redevelopment. --Greater Southwest News-Herald photo by Dermot Connolly
UBAM leaders hear LeClaire Courts plan
May break ground in mid-2022
By Dermot Connolly
The $400 million redevelopment plans for the former LeClaire Courts public housing site were laid out over lunch at a recent meeting of the United Business Association of Midway.
Several dozen business owners and community representatives attended the Nov. 10 event at the Red Barrel restaurant on Archer Avenue, where 22nd Ward Ald. Michael Rodriguez and the developers, Cabrera Capital Partners, described the extensive project.
The 33-acre site at the northeast corner of Garfield Ridge stretches from the Stevenson Expressway (I-55) to 45th Street, between Cicero and Lavergne Avenue. Hundreds of families lived in the LeClaire Courts low-rise public housing development that was there from 1950 until it was razed 10 years ago.
“I’m very excited to be the steward of this project,” said Rodriguez, whose ward includes the site, pointing to the hundreds of millions of dollars in investment and jobs it will bring jobs to the Southwest Side.
Bill Velasquez, community liaison for Cabrera, said his company will invest $400 million in the multi-phase development encompassing most of the site, except for six acres set aside for the new Academy for Global Citizenship charter school. He expects it will create 775 construction jobs and 665 permanent jobs.
“We won’t be a developer that just drops in and leaves. This is kind of a coming-out for us, introducing ourselves to you as a new neighbor would,” said Velasquez.
The Phase 1 plans that he said were passed “unanimously and enthusiastically” by the city Plan Commission on Oct. 21, include a 6,000 sq. ft. “quality grocery store,” and a 50,000 sq. ft. health clinic offering medical and dental care for people of all ages. Two mixed-income five-story apartment buildings with commercial space on the ground floor will face Cicero Avenue south of 44th Street. The apartments will be a mix of studios, one- and two-bedroom units.
“We’re just waiting for the letter of intent so we can officially name the grocer,” said Velasquez, adding that it could come any day. “There will be tables outside it for people to eat outside, with open space for live events.”
He predicted a groundbreaking in the second or third quarter of 2022.
But first, the project will go before the City Council’s Zoning Committee this month, followed by a vote by the full City Council, probably in December.
“Some people coming off the Stevenson Expressway at Cicero might see something not as positive as we would like. But I see a blank canvas,” said Rodriguez. “All my life has been dedicated toward building neighborhoods and communities. And any kind of development needs to integrate business. We are really interested in broader commercial developments along Cicero Avenue,” the alderman continued, adding that “the mixed-income housing will be done in a very forward-thinking way.”
Archer Heights Civic League President Thomas Baliga said for the development to be successful, the Illinois Department of Transportation must prioritize the Gateway to Midway plan, including widening Cicero Avenue by one lane in each direction under the Stevenson. He said this would eliminate the problems caused by vagrants who congregate there, panhandling for change at the expressway exit and using drugs.
He brought photos of a recent cleanup by IDOT staff, which netted bags of used needles and other trash.
Rodriguez said the recently approved federal infrastructure bill could free up money to go toward that effort.
Residents who were relocated when the CHA demolished LeClaire Courts were promised a right to return to any new development, and Velasquez said that will be honored.
“We are doing this on CHA land—they have been great partners—so there will be high-quality public housing, units affordable for working families, and market rate-housing. We are going to bring 650 to 700 housing units in phases over a period of years. There might be as many as 100 units of senior housing to be planned in a later phase,” said Velasquez.
“While CHA residents will be invited back, there will be affordable housing for new residents too,” he said, explaining that the exact number of homes will depend on the developer getting tax credits to make the project feasible.
“I think the senior housing should be a priority. It seems like it is going to be a cradle-to-grave community with a lot of amenities, so prior to the grave, we want some housing,” said UBAM President Anita Cummings, who praised the project in general.
Velasquez said the commercial development will be concentrated between I-55 and 44th Street, with green space and walking paths between the residences located from 44th to 45th from Cicero to the end of the property.
“There will be pedestrian-friendly walkways so residents south of 44th Street won’t have to fight traffic to get to the grocery store and health clinic,” he said, adding that greenspace like the Midway Plaisance near the University of Chicago is envisioned.
Paul Giulianelli, director of operations for Academy for Global Citizenship was at the meeting, and said the existing charter school will consolidate its two facilities in a new building on a six-acre section of the site adjacent to Hearst Park at 44th and Lavergne Avenue with space for 600 students from pre-k through eighth grade.
“It will have a small community health center and a community farm,” added Giulianelli.
The AGC now has kindergarten through second grade in a building at 4647 W. 47th St., with the upper grades in rented space at Hearst School, 4640 S. Lamon.
“We are committed to creating a very robust community development project. Not only is this going to be a catalyst for growth; it is going to be transformational for the entire Southwest Side. I don’t think I am overstating the case here,” said Velasquez.
“But it happens with community engagement. We want to do this in partnership with you,” he told the residents and business owners. “We also hope to create a TIF zone so taxes generated would stay in the area.”
Say man killed little sister with ‘ghost gun’
Chicago Lawn slaying called an accident By Tim Hadac A 15-year-old Chicago Lawn girl was shot in the head and killed by her 20-year-old brother as he reportedly assembled a ghost gun in the family’s third-floor apartment in the 2400 block of West Marquette Road. Shaniya Daniels was struck in the forehead by a bullet…
Charge man with murder in birthday party shooting
Guest of honor shot in the head By Tim Hadac A 28-year-old man has been charged with murder and aggravated battery in connection with a double shooting at a backyard party in Back of the Yards. Jorge Espana, who police said lives in the 3500 block of West 73rd Street, allegedly shot and killed 37-year-old…
Ploggers coming to West Elsdon
By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 Are you ready to go plogging? Yes, plogging is a combination of jogging and picking up garbage. If you live in the area of 54th and Avers, next Saturday, Aug. 13, bring a garbage bag, gloves and/or…
These folks know their lawns
By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place • (773) 504-9327 Have you driven or walked around our neighborhood lately? I have seen so many beautiful flowers and shrubbery. Residents have certainly been busy planting and landscaping, mowing and weeding. There are some lovely gardens and green lawns. West Lawners seem to know a thing…
Back to School sales tax holiday kicks in on Friday
With the start of a new school year fast approaching, state Rep. Fran Hurley is encouraging parents to take advantage of a state sales tax decrease on school supplies, clothing, shoes and other items over a 10-day period from Aug. 5 through Aug. 14. “Back-to-school shopping can sometimes be a real hit on a parent’s…
Area Sports Roundup: Costa and Busker named top athletes at Trinity; St. Rita’s Talty to kick for Tide
By Jeff Vorva Staff writer Former Richards volleyball standout Alex Costa led the NAIA with 508 kills and 613.5 points last season. Not a bad season for the Trinity Christian College sophomore. It gets even better. Last week, Costa was named TCC’s Male Athlete of the Year. The Oak Lawn native also had top numbers…
Pro Soccer Report: San Diego rookie Shaw, 17, scores lone goal in 1-0 win over Red Stars
By Jeff Vorva Staff writer The pregame attention went to 32-year-old Alyssa Mautz. The postgame attention – and surely a lot more attention to come – went to 17-year-old Jaedyn Shaw. Mautz announced that last Saturday’s game against the San Diego Wave would be her final last for the Chicago Red Stars. She has accepted…
Moore shows concern for constituents
By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 Last Thursday, 17th Ward Ald. David Moore met with some of his constituents that will no longer be a part of the 17th Ward due to the city remapping. The meeting took place at the Marquette Park fieldhouse.…
Bobby Frasor steps down as coach at Brother Rice
By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer The wins. The mosh pits. The jokes. These are just a few of the things that will be missed by Bobby Frasor, who stepped down last week as the basketball coach at Brother Rice and is leaving the world of hoops. Frasor was a star player for the Crusaders who…
Citizens, cops fighting crime
‘National Night Out’ events set for next week By Joan Hadac Hundreds and perhaps more than a thousand Southwest Side men, women and children are expected to take a public stand against crime at the Chicago Lawn (8th) Police District’s annual National Night Out Against Crime celebration, set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2 at…
Regulatory work behind 1 million EV push in full swing in Illinois
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Ten months after Illinois lawmakers passed the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act which set a goal of putting 1 million electric vehicles on state roads by the end of the decade, state agencies are engaged in a flurry of regulatory planning aimed at meeting those goals.…
10-day sales tax reduction on clothing, school supplies begins Friday
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Beginning Friday and lasting through Aug. 14, the state will reduce its sales tax rate from 6.25 percent to 1.25 percent for certain clothing items costing less than $125 and school supplies. The “tax holiday” was included in Gov. JB Pritzker’s “family relief plan,” one prong…
Pritzker highlights Rebuild Illinois funding for Cahokia Heights sewers, Rend Lake Resort
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinoi [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – When state lawmakers voted on bipartisan lines in 2019 to double Illinois’ motor fuel tax and raise several driving-related fees, it laid the groundwork for a $45 billion infrastructure plan, the largest in Illinois’ history and the first in nearly a decade. The plan, spanning six…
CAPITOL RECAP: Democrats choose Hernandez as new party chair
By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD – The vote for state Rep. Elizabeth “Lisa” Hernandez as the Democratic Party of Illinois’ first Latino chairwoman was unanimous and uneventful Saturday morning – the drama had occurred in the days prior in a power struggle of some of the state’s most prominent Democrats. Hernandez was backed Gov. JB…
Pritzker: Monkeypox disaster declaration will aid in vaccine distribution
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker issued a public health emergency declaration and declared Illinois a disaster area in response to the monkeypox virus Monday, a move his office said would help mobilize resources. The governor’s office said the proclamation will aid in moving vaccines to the most impacted…
Dems seek unity as new, former chair take no questions from media after party vote
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – The vote for state Rep. Elizabeth “Lisa” Hernandez as the Democratic Party of Illinois’ first Latino chairwoman was unanimous and uneventful Saturday morning – the drama had occurred in the days prior in a power struggle of some of the state’s most prominent Democrats. Hernandez was…
Democratic Party chair bows out in re-election bid, paving way for state Rep. Lisa Hernandez
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – A contentious race for leadership of the state’s Democratic Party appears to be down to a single candidate ahead of a Saturday morning vote after the party’s current chair pulled herself from the running Friday. State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, backed by Gov. JB Pritzker and House…
State announces plan for $760 million in opioid settlement money
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker and Attorney General Kwame Raoul announced plans Friday for how the state will distribute its share of funds from a national settlement with opioid companies. Illinois expects to receive approximately $760 million over 18 years from a $26 billion national settlement with three…
Thompson Center sale finalized with Google to be building’s lone occupant
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – After years of failed efforts that spanned multiple administrations, the state has finalized the sale of the controversial James R. Thompson Center in Chicago to a company that will make it the new Chicago home of tech giant Google. Gov. JB Pritzker made the announcement during…
CAPITOL RECAP: Illinois Democrats hoping to host 2024 nominating convention
By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Democrats are vying to make Chicago the host city for the Democratic National Convention in 2024. Officials for the Democratic National Committee were in Chicago on Tuesday as state leaders, including Gov. JB Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, called a news conference to tout the city as…