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.

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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