Big-box retailer sets sights on former Chicago projects

Target replace Cabrini-Green highrises

03/23/2011 10:00 PM

Contributing Reporter

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The Chicago Housing Authority may be considering a deal to build a Target store at the site of a former Cabrini-Green development.

Commissioners at a CHA meeting last week briefly discussed a recommendation for an agreement between the agency and Target “for land exchanges within or nearby the former William Green Homes Development.”

The item, tabled by the board without discussion on March 14, also alluded to a hiring agreement with the Minneapolis-based company that would include community outreach and job training for CHA residents.

CHA spokesperson Matt Aguilar declined to answer questions regarding the Target proposal, explaining that the agency “does not comment on pending real estate transactions.”

“However, it is always looking for ways to increase commercial investment in and around our communities,” Aguilar wrote in an email.

Target spokesperson Sarah Van Nevel also declined to comment on the proposal, stating that the company doesn’t publicly discuss projects that are more than a year away from opening.

The property in question — bordered roughly by Evergreen Avenue, Burling, Division and Larrabee Street — was occupied by eight high-rise residential buildings that had been home to thousands of public housing residents since the early 1960s.

Widely regarded as an incubator for crime and gang violence on the city’s Near North Side, the Green homes, known by locals as the “whites,” were slowly emptied and demolished by the CHA over the past decade as part of the agency’s long-term plan to reincorporate public housing residents into mixed-income communities.

The Green homes’ last remaining high-rise, 1230 N. Burling, is slated for teardown sometime this year. Citing unsafe conditions, CHA officials evacuated residents from the building in November.

The dormant seven-acre site now stands as an attractive piece of real estate, neighboring the affluent Old Town area to the east and Lincoln Park not far to the north.

Target’s projects in Chicago have been known to produce hundred of temporary and permanent jobs, and the mid-range department stores are often one-stop shopping opportunities — complete with pharmacies, grocery sections and a Starbucks — for residents in areas with few comparable options.

But for those public housing residents who hope to return to Cabrini, the proposal isn’t exactly a stirring prospect, said Marvin Edwards, a member of Cabrini’s Local Advisory Council.

“We’re not interested in having a Target there,” he said. “Our commitment as resident leaders was to bring back the housing for the people who relocated out of here.”

In 2000, a federal judge mandated that CHA is required to build at least 700 public housing units and 296 Section 8 dwellings as part of the redevelopment of Cabrini, replacing the 1,324 agency-owned homes that had once been available in the area.

One of CHA’s current mixed-income development projects, the Parkside of Old Town, is expected to produce 215 public housing units in Cabrini.

Edwards said that he and other Cabrini LAC members would look into what legal actions they could take to block the Target project.

“We want to make sure that CHA doesn’t make another mistake like this again,” he said.

Target currently has ten locations in Chicago, including a 200,000-square-foot store at the Wilson Yard development in Uptown. The publicly-traded company recently announced plans for a “small-format” store in the Sullivan Center, a U.S. Historic Landmark formerly known as the Carson Pirie Scott building in Chicago’s downtown district.

2 Comments - Add Your Comment

By Jeff from Boystown
Posted: 04/12/2011 2:34 PM

"we don't want no Target here" yeah the "leaders" of the community don't want their people to get jobs with benefits and start making lives better for themselves they want them dependent and weak so they can keep ringing the racism bell. I say build Target, Walmart, Starbucks, Dominicks, Kroger build it all and train and employee the residents that are still there. (The row houses were not town down) those residents are still there and need the jobs.

By Jackie from North Town Village
Posted: 03/27/2011 6:49 PM

I would prefer Target as a resident in our neighborhood. We have a very crowded residential area with mixed housing already and to re-create more mixed housing in this same neighborhood is not responsible city planning.