Residents Questions Benefits of 2 TOD Projects; Network 49 Secures Commitment from Developer to Negotiate Community Benefits Agreement

At a well-attended community meeting called to consider two large transit-oriented developments, 175 people, including a large contingent from ISKCON Krishna temple located next to 1710 W Lunt, raised numerous questions about how much benefit the community stands to get. The proposed developments require a substantial zoning change and relief from the city’s current parking requirements. After residents voiced numerous concerns and asked developer David Gasman to commit to specific changes, Network 49’s Brian White asked:

“Will you commit to sitting down with the community to negotiate a written and binding community benefits agreement?”

Gasman’s response: “yes.”

~175 residents came to hear about 2 newly proposed transit oriented developments at a meeting June 14 at the Ethiopian Community Association. Developer David Gasman (in shorts) speaks to Alderman Joe Moore prior to the meeting, as attendees read Network 49 materials.

 

 

 

An unscientific scan of the audience suggests the community is not at all ready to say “go”, for a number of reasons, so negotiating specific benefits is likely to help win support.

The main opposition expressed is over the lack of parking and the anticipated negative impact on the temple. Other strong objections were raised about the lack of affordable housing units, the size and number of units, and the likely precedent that the developments might set for transit-oriented development in the community. Many also asked why such dense TOD projects were being proposed now, while Clark Street was in the middle of a planning process.

Network 49 passed out informational handouts and Community Benefits Scorecards to help residents evaluate the projects. From the scorecards we collected, people are supportive of the projects as presented.

Residents study Network 49 handouts as they prepare to evaluate 2 proposed projects
  • “Parking not provided is a big issue, when people visit those units or businesses in the area.”
  • “David didn’t present convincing arguments with any of the questions/concerns raised. Looks like he has no solid plans.”
  • “At this point none of the vital points for the community are considered.”
  • “I am against this project.”

Some of things residents asked for in their comments:

  • Set aside more than the minimum number of units (10%) as affordable units
  • Preserve the historic character and key elements of the buildings, including the facades
  • Add more units that can accommodate families
  • Add or secure more off-street parking for building residents and guests
  • Commit to contract with women and minority owned businesses
  • Commitment to add green/open space and green elements, like a green roof or solar panels
  • Commit to give back to the community
  • Commit not to demolish either building, even if the proposals do not get approved
  • Commit to work with members of the Krishna temple to adjust the 1710 W Lunt development proposal to reduce the potential for conflict between the temple and residents likely to live at 1710
Nachi Lolla, President of ISKCON Chicago temple, addresses the concerns of his community to Alderman Moore and developer David Gasman.

Given the numerous concerns raised and questions presented, for which firm answers and commitments have NOT been made, Network 49 asked Alderman Joe Moore, who holds the ultimate decision:

  1. “Would he convene an additional community meeting for residents to hear about Gasman’s modifications to the developments before any decision was made?”
  2. “Would be allow residents to attend/observe any follow-up meeting of the 49th Ward Land Use Advisory Committee (LUAC), where the revised proposals might be considered?”

Despite his oft-touted commitment to participatory decision-making, Alderman Moore emphatically REFUSED TO ALLOW THE PUBLIC TO ATTEND OR WITNESS THE LUAC MEETINGS. He demurred on a second community meeting as well, which many residents interpreted as a sign that he has already made up his mind. That remains to be seen.

Network 49 will convene a meeting of interested groups, including Preservation Chicago and ISKCON, to draft a Community Benefits Agreement to present to David Gasman.

We will also ask Alderman Moore to hold off on any decision until the community and Gasman have had time to develop the agreement.

If you were unable to attend the meeting, you can view the development proposals on Alderman Moore’s website and click these links to see Network 49’s information handout and community benefits scorecard.