New Lathrop Designs Still Too Dense for Neighbors

The controversial redevelopment of Lathrop Homes has been scaled back by hundreds of units, but some say it’s still not enough.

After snagging feedback from locals in November, developers behind the reconstruction of Lathrop Homes say they’ve significantly reduced the buildings' heights and the number of units to 1,300.

But to some, that still wasn’t good enough.

Kerry Dickson, senior vice president of Related Midwest, attended the latest Hamlin Park Neighbors meeting to share the development update, but according to DNAinfo Chicago, the size reduction still wasn’t good enough for some neighbors, including the alderman.

"We think that number is still way too high," Ald. Scott Waguespack’s (32nd) Chief of Staff Paul Sajovec told DNAinfo Chicago. "We think there's a lot more work to be done on that issue."

The reduction comes after initially presenting three different designs to residents, each outlining the reconstruction of the 32-acre Lathrop Homes site in different ways with one significant commonality. They included a total of 1,600 homes; 25 percent of which were public housing, another 25 percent of which were affordable housing and a final 50 percent of which were market rate housing. 

  • VIDEOS: See the three design presentations in detail here on Patch.

Lathrop’s current design has about 900 public housing units.

The Chicago Housing Authority and Lathrop Community Partners said a total of 366 people participated in two November open houses. Attendees turned in a total of 258 surveys, a 70 percent response rate, while a follow‐up online survey added an additional 54 responses. A summary of the responses was released in January, and density was on the list of concerns.

"It's too dense," 62-year-old Deno Jeffries said in November, noting that the redevelopment hadn't previously included 1,600 units. "I don't think the infrastructure, the roads, et cetera, support the proposals."

Both he and West DePaul Neighborhood resident Barbara Head opposed the notion of supporting any potential redevelopment of the Lathrop Homes with Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, money. The funding is a public financing method used for subsidizing redevelopment, infrastructure or other community improvement plans.

"These are two for-profit developers," Head said. "I say, go find your own financing. I don't want my property taxes to go to this."

The entire project is still going through a lenghthy process, according to Craig Seiben, a member of the Lathrop Homes Working Group. Seiben told the Hamlin Park Neighbors in December that it’s his responsibility to bring the neighbors’ voice to the Chicago Housing Authority.

“This program is long, and it’s not set in stone,” Seiben said. “Everything we’ve heard consistently points to that there is too much density.”

Lathrop Community Partners, the five-part development group behind the site’s design, says they’ll present a single master plan in late February or early March, DNAinfo Chicago reports. At that point there will be more opportunity for public input.

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John Feeney February 04, 2013 at 05:08 PM
Glad to see the neighborhood groups are following through. They have brought some significant changes to initial idea. This 32-acre development has some high potential. Everything is focused on the number of units and a careful approach to the "type" of housing. For me, I would like to see better usage of area along the River.
Lou Cosme February 04, 2013 at 08:09 PM
The density issue is huge! The adverse affects of so many new entrants to a neighborhood is numbing. The proposed density increase on the entire area will bring traffic to a stand still and propagate over the entire north side! The current infrastructure, layout and traffic patterns are already beyond capacity! What are they thinking? Believe me, I and many others have waited many years for the Lathop issue to end, but increasing the current 900 units by almost fifty percent is outrageous. Everyone knows that there is a financial model that the developers are trying to meet,but does it have to be so excessive? After it is built, the developer washes their hands and moves on while an entire area suffers from the sheer weight of humanity preventing efficient movement in and around the area. It is really a no-brainer! Throttle it back, you will still make money; do not try to make up for the last five years troubles in one fell swoop! I have lived through this density increase several times before and it is never a good thing for anyone but the developers. Has anyone considered developing only half the 32 acres and adding the balance to the park system with river access for boating and the like???
John Feeney February 04, 2013 at 08:40 PM
Totally agree Leo, as for addressing traffic. Wait until the Damen|Fullerton|Elston intersection is re-routed. Diversey & Clybourn will surely feel a spike in vehicles.


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