BRONZEVILLE — Community groups on Thursday questioned whether a new Mariano’s grocery store was a sign of the Chicago Housing Authority giving up on its plan to replace demolished public housing in Bronzeville.
The Kenwood Oakland Community Organization said the community has been left in the dark about plans for the land at Pershing Road and Martin Luther King Drive that was to become subsidized housing to replace the Ida B. Wells homes that formerly occupied the site.
The last of the public housing development was demolished in 2011.
“All we know is that the housing was torn down, a promise was made, that promise hasn’t been kept, and we still don’t know where that replacement housing is going to go,” said Brian Malone of KOCO.
The last public plan from the CHA and its partner developers showed the 8-acre lot being redeveloped with residential housing. But in May, CHA agreed to sell the land for $5.5 million to Chicago Neighborhoods Initiatives to build the upscale Mariano’s and other retail.
Mariano’s is expected to occupy 74,000 square feet of the space, with construction starting in the spring.
CHA officials downplayed the concerns.
“CHA has sufficient land to accommodate those residents who have the right to return,” said Wendy Parks, a spokeswoman for CHA. “This type of public-private investment with Mariano’s and the City of Chicago helps to strengthen the entire community — creating more than 400 jobs and access to fresh foods and produce.”
Malone and others called on 4th Ward Ald. Will Burns (4th) to hold CHA accountable and bring a plan to the community.
“Our work to bring amenities to the area in no way diminishes our commitment to every resident of this ward, no matter what the opponents to progress have to say,” Burns said.
He said planning would resume in the spring for replacing Ida B. Wells, Madden Park Homes and Clarence Darrow Homes, redubbed Oakwood Shores during redevelopment.
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