A First Look at the Final Chapter in Burying Cabrini Green’s Past

Cabrini Green Model

When an alderman or city agency holds a community meeting to get feedback on a planned development, they can’t be sure if anyone will show up.

Cabrini-Green Model-2 That wasn’t a problem last evening at the Seward Park gymnasium at 375 West Elm Street where the first open house was held to unveil the Cabrini-Green Draft Redevelopment Zone Plan. As snow fell outside, the gym was nearly full with residents and developers eager to view the plan.

 It’s currently a work in progress. The meetings are intended not only as a show-and-tell, but also to gauge the public’s temperature and generate feedback so the plan can be revised and finalized. The Chicago Housing Authority will get bids from developers and the Cabrini-Green neighborhood will officially leave its ghosts in the past.

Already, the neighborhood has gotten a taste of gentrification and also a brand new Target store. The future of Cabrini-Green will include redevelopment or replacement of 25,000 subsidized housing units by 2015. The C.H.A. rehabbed some of the Frances Cabrini Homes between 2006 and 2010, along Cambridge Street between Chicago Avenue and Oak Street. Those only make up about a third of the historic complex.

Architect and Historic Preservationist Andrea Terry

Andrea Terry, Architect and Historic Preservationist

Some of the current units are actually candidates for registry as historic buildings. It’s not that they have any architectural significance, though, according to Andrea Terry, an expert in historic preservation.

“The row houses in Cabrini-Green could qualify for historic status because of their contribution to social progress,” Terry explained last night, as the staffer of the History table at the open house. She also works at Bauer Latoza Studio, one of the architect firms that support the Urban Green Team that’s making the redevelopment of Cabrini-Green a reality.

The next open house will be held Saturday, February 8, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., again at the Seward Park gymnasium.

Editor’s Note: This article was published before the Chicago Housing Authority made its PDF file available to the public.  It has since been released, and can be viewed here.

Bill Motchan

Author: Bill Motchan

Bill Motchan is a writer and photographer, and a former resident of the West Loop. He can be reached at bill@ChicagoArchitecture.org.

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  1. Are public officials listening to whether or not the surrounding community actually wants a rebuilt public housing development in this area? With every local branch of government broke I would much rather have market rate housing built so that property taxes could be made. How do we let them know this as well as that there should be much higher density here?

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  2. I’ve lived in a luxury high rise with an 80:20 concept (80-market:20-affordable). Based on my experience, the affordable housing concept creates violations of occupancy standards and abuse of amenities. Regardless of what percentage you cap the affordable rate at, you can expect that to nearly double. The luxury buildings, which are normally otherwise out-of-budget, become the “place to be” for all friends and family to not only visit but remain permanently. Individual units exceed occupancy standards and the amenity spaces become overcrowded with visitors.

    The concept of respect for communal living and quiet enjoyment disappears. I am not one to complain for noise violations, but I witnessed at least ten (10) domestics disputes during my 12-month term–most occurring after 2 A.M. There were always random people wandering the hallways and loud yelling. As these projects move forward, I would strongly ask the committees to reconsider the percentage allocations. If not, these communities will be a one-term and done. I will never live in another community with mixed units until something is done to monitor the occupancy standards and enforce the covenant of quiet enjoyment. If you want peace and quiet do not rent in these communities.

    I wonder if the CHA has considered the additional costs of security if this plan moves forward. I currently reside near the Cabrini-Green neighborhood and the small section of row homes right now is currently under 24-hour surveillance by camera and has 2-4 cops patrolling the area at all times–some permanently parked at the entrances.

    Who is paying for the additional cost of security cameras and dedicated police force? If the current section already requires a dedicated force of 2-4 police officers, what is this new development going to require?

    The CHA has already received scrutiny and potential lawsuits for their “supervouchers” subsidizing rent for low-income residents in the city’s priciest apartment buildings. Thousands of Chicagoans are denied access to ANY programs because the CHA run out of money. Why? Because they subsidize rent in high-cost areas such as this. The CHA needs sell this valuable land to private investors and use the profits to subsidize affordable housing for MORE residents rather than the limited ones who get to live in these areas.

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