With the cancellation of a planned Sept. 27 meeting to introduce redevelopment plans for the Lathrop Homes, combined with Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) posting initial designs online (see below), the board members of Hamlin Park Neighbors (HPN) are concerned the train is about to leave the station without them and have decided to play a more vocal role in the Lathrop process.
Originally, according to board president Charles Beach, HPN’s intention was to serve merely as a conduit of information. “As time goes on, we as a board have come to a conclusion…it’s time to start formulating a voice about these things.”
Speaking at Monday night’s monthly HPN meeting, held at the New Life Community Church, 2928 N. Damen Ave., Beach stated, “Things are starting to get put down on paper. We need people to become more vocal or active…. We want the alderman to know that we’re paying attention; we want the developer to know that we’re paying attention.”
Current proposals range from a plan that would create 1,322 new housing units evenly split north and south of Diversey to renderings of a 1,610-unit development with nearly 400 units preserved in historic buildings. All of the plans employ creative amenities such as wetlands, a river promenade, amphitheater and community gardens, along with space set aside for restaurants and retail shopping. None of the plans indicates the percentage of units devoted to low-income, affordable and/or market-rate housing.
“Things like density are going to be the hot-button issue,” said Beach. “How much are we willing to tolerate?”
Already, in the absence of public comment from developers, rumors have spread that one of the plans incorporates a 48-story tower. Not true, but misinformation will persist until debunked. That’s one of the reasons Ald. Waguespack posted the proposals online, according to his chief of staff, Paul Sajovec, who attended the HPN meeting.
“It’s our hope there is open, honest opportunity for some feedback,” said Sajovec. “He [Waguespack] needed to get that conversation going sooner than later.”
Kerry Dickson, senior vice president with Related Midwest, a member of Lathrop’s redevelopment consortium, was also present at the HPN meeting as an observer. He jumped into the fray to clarify his team’s position. “Our goal is to make a presentation the community can understand,” he said. “We think it’s a six- to eight-month process of dialogue.”
HPN’s goal is to make sure its members are actively engaged when that dialogue does ultimately occur. Said board member Stacy Thomas, “We need to show up in force.”