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Neighbors of Lakeside Development at U.S. Steel Site Seek Benefits, Too

By Sam Cholke | July 16, 2014 8:51am | Updated on July 17, 2014 7:43am
 Neighbors offered some ground rules Tuesday for an expected 30 years of development at the former U.S. Steel site on the south lakefront.
Neighbors offered some ground rules Tuesday for an expected 30 years of development at the former U.S. Steel site on the south lakefront.
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DNAinfo/Sam Cholke

SOUTH CHICAGO — Community groups on Tuesday itemized what needs to happen for existing neighborhoods on the south lakefront to share in the benefits of a 500-acre development at the former U.S. Steel site.

“We want folks who have lived in the community, built the community, to stay in the community,” said Amalia NietoGomez, executive director of the Alliance of the SouthEast organization.

For nearly a year, the Alliance has developed ground rules and expectations of McCaffery Interests and the other developers who will spend 30 years turning the former steel mill site into a new neighborhood called Lakeside.

“We’re going to breath every particle of dust that is produced in that development,” said Karen Rotan, a member of the group who lives just west of Lake Shore Drive in the Bush neighborhood. “We’d like to see dust monitors up.”

The group released nine pages of benefits of the development it would like to see shared with the surrounding communities if Lakeside is to go forward with its first phase next year at the north end of the site at South Lake Shore Drive and East 81st Street.

The document, which is meant as a draft to start the conversation with McCaffery, goes into copious detail about what metrics to use when calculating affordable rents, where to identify households that may be burdened by rising property taxes and how local hiring should be defined.

“We’re talking about no tricks, full transparency,” said Yvette Moyo of the Black United Fund on the hiring standards proposed.

She said the good local hiring initiatives of Mariano’s Fresh Market, which announced July 9 it would open in Lakeside in 2016, should set the baseline for the development.

A meeting to discuss the community benefits agreement on Tuesday at St. Michael the Archangel School, 8231 S. South Shore Drive, drew about 100 vocal supporters that were mostly long-term homeowners in the community.

“I’m sick of the moneyed interests driving out working people, black people and Latin people when they don’t need them to work the mills,” said Mike Wolf, a retired steel mill worker who was hoping for the agreement would make sure the development benefited neighborhoods hard hit by the decline of manufactoring.

Ald. Natashia Holmes (7th) said she believed McCaffery Interests has been open to a community benefits agreement.

“I think it’s important to get something in place before Mariano’s comes,” Holmes said.

A representative of McCaffery Interests was not available to comment. The group said a draft of the community benefits agreement was also sent to McCaffery on Tuesday.

"[The draft] is the community benefits agreement we should start from," said NietoGomez. "There’s no reason to start from scratch.”

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