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Neighbors Reject Lathrop Homes Redevelopment Plans

By Jackie Kostek | October 11, 2012 12:20pm
 John McDermott presents proposals for Lathrop Homes.
John McDermott presents proposals for Lathrop Homes.
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DNAinfo/ Jackie Kostek

LAKEVIEW — The South Lakeview Neighbors organization opposed three Chicago Housing Authority-backed proposals Tuesday night for the overhaul of the historic Lathrop Homes.

The plans call for the demolition of many existing buildings in the complex, which was built in the 1930s and has 900 units spread across 29 two-story row houses and three- to four-story walk-ups. 

The plans call for the construction of new, high-density buildings that could accommodate hundreds more residents. One plan calls for two high-rise buildings, one at 28-stories and one at 18, for a total of 1,600 units.

But members of the South Lakeview Neighbors organization were unhappy with the plans for high-rises and more tenants.

"We're rejecting these plans," said David Duggan, president of the organization.

The developers were scheduled to attend the meeting, but they canceled their presentation hours earlier. John McDermott, director of housing and land use for the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, presented the three CHA-supported plans and a preservation-based alternative at the meeting instead.

"The developers picture Lathrop Homes as high density, high traffic, and really, high rise," McDermott said. "Let's tell them to take these back to the drawing board."

A spokeswoman for CHA said the agency had not officially announced any proposals for Lathrop, and said the agency would host an open house next month or so to discuss three "scenarios" for the future of the homes. She said CHA would accept community input at that point.

Miguel Suarez, who has been a Lathrop Homes resident for 22 years, said he didn't want the high-rises because that would mean increased competition for jobs in the area.

McDermott said by demolishing so much of the existing development, the CHA was missing an opportunity to preserve an important part of the city's history, and a registered national historic landmark.

The CHA announced plans to redevelop the site more than a decade ago in 1999, but only in the past year has the push gained momentum, McDermott said. The CHA commissioned a consortium of developers, consisting of two non-profits and two for-profits, and held a handful of public meetings last fall.

Since those initial meetings, the community and neighborhood groups have largely been left out of the planning process, McDermott said.

After the group's vote against the planned proposals, McDermott told members to be proactive, write or call their alderman, and "let their voices be heard."

"That's the way to put the brakes on this thing," he said.