The Cabrini-Green projects and the New City YMCA are coming down, and a new landscape is emerging. Here's an update on area developments.
All of the high-rises in Chicago’s housing projects have come down as part of the Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation—except for three at Cabrini-Green. That’s because of a lawsuit filed by Cabrini’s Local Advisory Council in the mid-’90s; the resulting consent decree regulates the rate of demolition based on the number of replacement housing units in progress (with a total of 700 to be reserved for public housing). According to Cabrini developer Peter Holsten, the city will accept bids on the land this year, and the towers won’t likely come down for another year, at least. Any housing built on CHA-owned land must have 30 percent of its units reserved for returning Cabrini residents; for example, 79 of the 261 units at Holsten’s North Town Village (Halsted Street just north of Division) are home to former tenants. He’s also heading up the Park Side of Old Town, at Division and Larrabee Streets, which will offer 240 public-housing units over the next five years. The first ex–Cabrini residents will move in within two months, he says.
British School of Chicago
In 2001, the British Schools of America—an international network based on a British curriculum—opened a Chicago chapter in the old St. Gregory’s Elementary School in Andersonville. But the chapter has outgrown its Catholic-school digs, and a new building is going up on Halsted Street, just south of Clybourn Avenue. By early next year, the bottom level will be retail, and the top five levels will serve the school’s 350 students (3 to 18 years old). The capacity is 750 students, however, as the school wants to up its number of high-schoolers—who will be thankful for the larger gym. Structured Development is using recycled materials and will install a green roof.
New City YMCA
The New City YMCA doesn’t have many windows; when it was built in 1981, there were too many bullets flying in the area. Yet its rainbow-colored bricks served as a beacon for Cabrini residents who took advantage of the community programs within. Enrollment has dwindled, and the YMCA sold the building and playing fields this year; its doors closed June 30. Developers are hoping for city approval of plans by September, and demolition will follow. The Y is relocating to Our Lady of the Angels Mission in West Humboldt Park, an area in need of substance-abuse, gang-intervention and at-risk–youth programs. Structured Development is planning a multibuilding retail district, which will include residences and a one-acre park. The firm often reuses materials from any building it knocks down, so New City’s colored bricks may resurface.
After three years at Clybourn and Division, this community garden will move to Oak and Larrabee Streets by 2009, as the land it occupies has been sold. Cabrini kids are helping ready the new plot. Organic tomatoes, eggplant, cilantro and more are sold at the current onsite market on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3–7pm, and Saturdays, 10am–1pm.
Stranger’s Home Missionary Baptist Church
This church, which sits on a small piece of private land on Clybourn near Larrabee Street (see page 4), predates the housing projects built in the 1960s. Services are still held Sundays, but with the changing neighborhood, the Chicago Public Art Group is concerned about the fate of the church and its mural, painted by community-mural pioneer William Walker in 1973. All of Mankind includes the names of slain figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Anne Frank and Jesus Christ, and features Walker’s iconic overlapping of heads of different races and genders, with shared eyes. Jon Pounds of CPAG says it will be up to the city to save it; if the whole structure can’t be maintained, Pounds proposes the facade be renovated as part of a public park. “In 10 to 20 years, it will be the only [marker] that will symbolize what was there…what Cabrini was,” he says.