NW Side residents, aldermen voice concern about Lathrop Homes development plans

Jose Zayas is a former resident of Lathrop Homes and co-founder of Lathrop Homes Alumni Chicago.

Northwest Side residents and aldermen are not pleased with proposed plans for redeveloping Lathrop Homes, a Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) affordable housing project near Bucktown.

Lathrop Community Partners (LCP) received the contract from the CHA to renovate Lathrop Homes, one of Chicago’s oldest housing projects, in 2010. The developers presented three possible plans for renovating the Lathrop buildings on Thursday night.

“It looks and feels like the land grab developments that have taken place in other CHA developments in high-profile neighborhoods like Cabrini Green,” said the Rev. Liala Beukema, an area resident and activist. “We reject all three scenarios presented tonight and demand that the planning process restart with a truer and fuller public participation.”

Beukema spoke on behalf of the Campaign to Preserve the Lathrop Homes, a coalition of local community groups that include the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, South Lakeview Neighbors and Preservation Chicago.

The opponents’ primary concerns are density, a diminished number of public housing units in the development and disregard for preserving the project’s historic buildings.

The CHA’s initial request to developers was to create buildings to accommodate 800-1200 units. LCP’s plan incorporates 1,600.

Similarly, LCP disregarded CHA’s request for 33 percent of the buildings’ units to be public housing – all three LCP plans only allow 25 percent. Fifty percent of the units will be market rate and the remaining 25 percent non-public affordable housing.

None of LCP’s plans will preserve enough of Lathrop’s historic buildings for the project to qualify for federal historic rehabilitation tax credits. Lathrop was placed on the National Register of Historic Places this year.

Aldermen Joe Moderno, 1st, and Scott Waguespack, 32nd, echoed citizen’s concerns in letters addressed to CHA CEO Charles Woodyward earlier this month.

“After thorough review of these three development scenarios, I have concluded that they are lacking in several key respects,” Waguespack wrote.

Moreno called CHA and LCP’s process “irresponsible.”

Lathrop Community Partners and the Chicago Housing Authority rebuffed community concerns on Thursday night, citing over 100 one-on-one interviews conducted with community residents in the spring of 2011 and a fall 2011 workshop series that included community input.

“We have had an open process,” said John Gerut, executive vice president of development at the Chicago Housing Authority.

Another open house to view the LCP’s three development plans is scheduled for Saturday, from noon to 4 p.m. at New Life Community Church, 2958 N. Damen Ave.

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