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Ald. Hairston Demands Urban Partnership Remove Boards from Shuttered Branch

By Sam Cholke | May 2, 2014 7:00am
 Ald. Leslie Hairston is demanding painted boards come down from the shuttered Urban Partnership Bank branch in South Shore.
Urban Partnership Murals Done
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SOUTH SHORE — Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) is threatening to haul Urban Partnership Bank's owners in front of City Council if it keeps its shuttered branch at 71st Street and Jeffery Boulevard boarded up.

“If they can’t do what they’re supposed to do, they don’t deserve to be a city depository,” Hairston said on Thursday of possible actions by the Finance Committee.

Hairston said the boards make the former bank branch at 7054 S. Jeffery Blvd. look unattractive and said it was disrespectful to the community.

Brian Berg, a spokesman for the bank, said Urban Partnership was doing what it thought appropriate until Monroe Investment Partners is able to finalize a plan to redevelop the property.

“It’s really uncertain what’s going to be at 71st and Jeffery, so we have to make it safe, secure and attractive,” Berg said.

He was unfazed by Hairston’s threat of removing the bank from the formal list of institutions the city could do business with. Although the bank still has eight branches within city limits, there is no city money in any of them.

“That would be like getting blood from a turnip,” Berg said. “We don’t have any depository accounts with the city.”

Hairston was also critical of the bank bringing in artists from Bridgeport to paint a mural on the boards.

On Wednesday, the muralists wrapped up work painting images of the South Shore Cultural Center, bikers and the Metra trains over the plywood on the windows.

Chris Toepfer of the Neighborhood Foundation said the group was able to involve two South Shore artists in the project, but had to turn away people because there was so much interest.

Hairston said a local artist should have led the project.

“Now they’re ugly painted boards,” Hairston said.

Hairston has repeatedly chided the bank for putting boards on the South Shore branch, while not boarding up shuttered branches that closed years ago in Douglas and Kenwood.

Berg said the bank did not own the other two locations and those property owners decided not to board-up branches at 34th Street and Martin Luther King Drive and 47th Street and Drexel Boulevard when they closed.

Hairston said she will continue to push the bank to take down the boards.

“There was no incidents of vandalism, there is no cause for this,” she said.

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