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Lathrop Development Critics Still Seeking Answers

By Serena Dai | February 13, 2013 9:22am
 The Julia C. Lathrop Homes, viewed from the Chicago River, has neighbors concerned about redevelopment plans.
The Julia C. Lathrop Homes, viewed from the Chicago River, has neighbors concerned about redevelopment plans.
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David Wilson/Flickr

LAKEVIEW — Even though the discussion about the Lathrop Homes lasted nearly 1 ½  hours at a local community meeting, neighbors left with few firm answers about the most pressing issues regarding the proposed mixed-use complex. 

Representatives of the Lathrop  Community Partners presented the same videos of three potential scenarios for the Julia C. Lathrop Homes at Tuesday's South Lakeview Neighbors meeting that they showed at an open house last November.

The five-party partner group charged with redeveloping the mix of affordable, public housing and market rate housing has experienced backlash for plans that critics say feature too many units, too little parking and too much retail.

The 32-acre property near Clybourn Ave and Diversey Parkway currently has 900 units that are largely unoccupied, and the corner already experiences bad congestion and traffic.

Neighbors at SLN, in response to seeing old plans, reiterated those primary concerns involving density, traffic and whether the new development would be in a Tax Increment Financing district, potentially eliminating tax money for schools.

But developers arrived with few new specifics on the topics.

Originally, the partners proposed boosting the number of units to 1,600 before announcing at a meeting of the Hamlin Park Neighbors group last month that they've decreased it to 1,300 units, most likely a mix with half market-rate housing, a quarter affordable housing and a quarter public housing. Critics, including Ald. Scott Waugespack (32nd), say 1,300 is still too high.

Curt Bailey, the president of Lathrop partner Related Midwest, said at Tuesday's meeting that density will be "very close" to the 1,300 units. That's not including the approximate 80 units in the Lathrop Elderly Apartments that will remain on the site after development, Chicago Housing Authority representative Veronica Gonzalez told neighbors.

"It would have been nice for them to show something new," said Linda O'Connell, who lives south of the river near the development. "They have not addressed the concerns. It suggests they don't really want community input."

People itching for answers will have to wait until March, when Lathrop Community Partners say they expect to release a single master plan for the development in hopes of solidifying a plan by the end of the year. But considering the lack of detail presented so close to the date, the timeline seems too optimistic, said SLN board member Perry Castrovillari.

"We have a long way to go," he said.