Plan to turn the former jewel, the far south side parking lot, into a migrant shelter | chicago news

The vacant 67,000-square-foot former grocery store and surrounding 6.5-acre grounds on the border between Morgan Park and West Roseland.  (Credit: Google Street View)The vacant 67,000-square-foot former grocery store and surrounding 6.5-acre grounds on the border between Morgan Park and West Roseland. (Credit: Google Street View)

A key City Council committee advanced a plan Monday to buy the now-vacant Jewel-Osco and its surrounding parking lot near 115th Street and Halsted Avenue and turn it into a shelter for some of the 3,344 men, women and children forced to sleep on floors. Police stations throughout the city and at O’Hare Airport.

Approval from the City Council’s Housing and Real Estate Committee sends a proposal to spend $1 to buy the vacant 67,000-square-foot former grocery store and surrounding 6.5-acre lots on the border between Morgan Park and West Roseland formerly known as Halsted. Indoor Mall The full City Council will vote for a final vote on Wednesday.

I give birth. David Moore (17th District) cast the lone dissenting vote after city staff could not tell him how much the city would have to pay to cover property taxes on the land.

It remains unclear whether city officials plan to build a massive “winter base camp” on what is now a vacant parking lot or whether they plan to turn the vacant grocery store into a shelter, or both. It is also unclear how many people can be housed at the site, or when the shelter might open.

The vote came without debate, a rare exception to the intense debate facing Mayor Brandon Johnson and his administration as they scramble to care for more than 19,400 people who made their way to Chicago from the southern border after entering the country legally after seeking asylum.

These efforts have exacerbated tensions between Chicago’s black and Latino communities, where many black leaders are deeply frustrated that the city is spending millions of dollars to house mostly Latino immigrants in black communities that have suffered from decades of disinvestment, extreme poverty, and rampant crime and violence. .

The committee vote came shortly after Ald. Ronnie Mosley (21st Street Ward) said in a statement he was “extremely disappointed” with plans to set up a temporary shelter at 115th and Halsted in his ward, which has seen a sharp population decline amid an ongoing exodus of black Chicagoans. from the city.

The city’s decades-old tradition of board privilege typically gives Moseley veto power over such a high-profile development, especially one that was harshly criticized by nearby residents at a community meeting in September when the proposal was just a rumor.

But Johnson explained that the humanitarian crisis facing the city means that local council members will not be able to stop the opening of shelters.

“The 21st District will not tolerate prioritizing the crisis over our needs and our voices!” Moseley said in a statement acknowledging that the shelter would be built in his southernmost ward — but he made a series of demands for the Johnson administration, including their support for the Beverly Ridge housing development, improvements at Julian High School as well as “investments.” In beautifying our stand.”

Mosley also asked for a full commitment from the city to break ground next year on a development called Morgan Park Commons, an affordable housing, retail, entertainment and new park space on the site. The city plans to donate the land to the project developer, the Far South Community Development Corporation, the plan submitted to the Housing Commission said.

“The administration says we can serve Chicagoans and asylum seekers in need,” Mosley wrote. “Therefore, I call on the 21st District to provide temporary shelter to Chicago residents until the residents of this community are safer.”

President Abraham Lacey said in a statement to WTTW News that the company remains committed to starting construction on Morgan Park Commons in 2024 with recently confirmed support from state and city officials.

“We have already secured development funding for Phase 1, including allocations from the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago, and remain committed to providing affordable housing, retail and entertainment, and new park space at the northwest corner of 115th and Halsted Streets,” Lacey said in a statement.

The number of migrants sent to Chicago in the past 30 days has risen by 30%, with the number of migrants at police stations and O’Hare increasing by more than 50%, even as the mayor’s office has opened several new shelters in recent weeks.

City officials have not yet made a final decision on whether a massive “winter base camp” will be built on a vacant lot near 38th Street and California Avenue in Brighton Park. Officials said this site could house up to 2,000 families.

Contact Heather Sherwin: @Heather Chiron | (773) 569-1863 | (email protected)

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