As you may know, The Lathrop Homes, bounded by Clybourn, Damen and the Chicago River, is a 37 acre, 925 unit, 32 building public housing project, owned by the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). Due to extensive housing discrimination violations, a federal court placed the CHA in receivership under a ‘consent decree’ and required the CHA to develop a plan of transformation to cure the constitutional violations for all CHA housing projects. The redevelopment of Lathrop is part of such a plan.
In 2010, after input from community groups, including RVN, the CHA distributed a Request For Qualifications (RFQ) describing the goals of the Lathrop redevelopment. Lathrop Community Partners (LCP) was chosen as the master developer. During this process, RVN members repeatedly emphasized to CHA and LCP our main concerns of density, scale, compatibility with surrounding neighborhoods and traffic and parking congestion. Historic preservation and LEED status were of secondary importance.
Then, in August 2012, to RVN’s utter dismay, LCP released three development alternatives, all of which violated the CHA’s own RFQ and ignored vital neighborhood issues. All three alternatives are unacceptable to RVN because of unprecedented density, inappropriate height, incompatible scale and the associated traffic gridlock that would result.
The existing housing project contains 925 units. The RFQ’s scope described 800-1200 units. LCP’s three alternatives call for 1600 units, a 72% increase over existing density, opposite to the trend of decreasing density in the surrounding neighborhoods.
The existing buildings are 2-3 story walk-ups, a scale consistent with the surrounding neighborhoods. In contrast, LCP’s alternatives contain high rises of 10, 12, 18 stories and even an eye-popping behemoth of 28 stories. This forest of high rises would assuredly serve to further isolate the Lathrop redevelopment from its neighbors.
The traffic and parking congestion resulting from such a massive increase in residential density and commercial square footage would paralyze the surrounding streets.
There are many other issues such as structured parking, curb cuts, demolition of the Damen Ave. wall, all of which should be addressed by meaningful public participation with RVN and other neighborhood representatives.
We urge you to read Alderman Waguespack’s attached letter, attend the meetings at New Life Community Church and share your views with LCP representatives.
The CHA and Lathrop Community Partners have announced two meetings at which they will present three possible proposals and solicit neighborhood input. The meetings are an opportunity for you to walk through interactive displays of possible Lathrop Redevelopment scenarios. Next meeting date TBD.
It is imperative that our neighborhood attends these meetings and provide input on the future of Lathrop Homes. Much is at stake and conveying neighborhood input to the CHA is an opportunity to potentially influence the redevelopment plan. Prior to the meeting please consider things like density, traffic congestion and the amount of retail you would like to see on the property.
RVN will be present at the meetings to support our membership and solicit opinions to assist us in representing your voice going forward. Please, take the time to attend one of these and take a stake in the development of your neighborhood.
The RVN Board