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South Siders Say 'No' to Pawn Shop at 95th & Jeffery

By Wendell Hutson | May 6, 2013 7:02am | Updated on May 6, 2013 9:30am
 A proposed pawn shop has run into some heavy opposition from  Calumet Heights and Jeffery Manor residents. Ald. Natashia Holmes (7th) said she will fight the plan.
Pawn Shop Opposed
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CALUMET HEIGHTS —Cash America Inc. of Illinois is hoping to open the first pawn shop in the city's 7th Ward  — but not if Ald. Natashia Holmes (7th) and a local nonprofit organization have their way.

"The residents of Jeffery Manor and Calumet Heights have made their concerns heard regarding the pawn shop being established on 95th and Jeffery. I support them," Holmes said.

"We have to be deliberate about establishing the types of businesses in the 7th Ward that can be supported and beneficial to the residents."

Despite opposition from the alderman and residents, the national chain pawn shop operator is moving forward with its proposal to occupy a vacant store at the 95th & Jeffery Shopping Center, 2065 E. 95th St.

Cash America is set to appear before the city's zoning board May 17 for a hearing on its request for a special-use permit, said Nikol Miller, Holmes' chief of staff.

"The alderman held a community meeting Wednesday, and about 75 people attended," Miller said. "And after completing a survey passed out by the alderman, the majority were not in favor of a pawn shop."

John Acoff, vice president of the South Shore Gardens Betterment Association, said other businesses are welcome should the city reject a permit for the pawn shop.

"Pawn shops are known to accept and sell stolen merchandise, and for that reason the SSGBA is not in favor of any pawn shops in Calumet Heights," said Acoff, a 40-year resident and retired Chicago police officer.

"Pawn shops buy anything off the street. They do a lot of underhanded stuff. I know because I used to be a cop," said Acoff. "They buy stolen cellphones and turn around and resell them to the owner, and they sell guns, too."

Yulonda Walker, a spokeswoman for Cash America, did not return calls seeking comment.

"Why open a pawn shop in an area supported by banks? This is not some low-class area full of welfare people," said Monroe Rogers, 49, a 38-year neighborhood resident. "If we need some money, we know how to dip into our retirement accounts or speak with a banker about a loan.

"Middle-class residents have access to capital. We don't need to lug our TVs or jewelry to a pawn shop for a loan," Rogers said.

Maria Henderson, 45, agreed.

"It's bad that businesses think they can open up anything they want in a black neighborhood," she said. "Personally, I am offended that a pawn shop would try to open up around here."