The forums of the McKinley Park News require a free website membership in order to post messages.
Click here to register your free account, or click here to log in.

Affordable Housing Project Spiked

2 months 3 weeks ago #1 by Justin Kerr
Crain's Chicago Business has the story about how the Parkview Lofts affordable housing project across from McKinley Park has been canceled by property owners after public funding for it was pulled following environmental protesters targeting MAT Asphalt .

According to Crain's the properties are now for sale (again) including the potential for market-rate housing, but likely not affordable housing, unless mayoral priorities change, said development team member Tom Brantley.

One of the quoted developers noted how the two buildings are "in the path of progress" and are likely to be redeveloped.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

2 months 3 weeks ago #2 by jpetsy
can't read the full article since it's paywalled, but i wonder if the MAT controversy dooming this housing project will present any complications to the 3 projects proposed for the 1769 pershing. at least one of them included a portion of affordable home units and the tax benefits as a part of their capital stack

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

2 months 3 weeks ago #3 by Justin Kerr
Thank you for your feedback. That's a very good question!
To me, much of this ties into the disingenuousness of many of the supposedly environmental protests going on around here. The protesters have defined their Big Bad, set up their operations and fund-raising apparatus based on their narrative, and ignore all other sources of local emissions, even monstrous ones that have recently received expansions to their operating permits (Wheatland Tube) or federally regulated carcinogen emitters much closer than MAT Asphalt (like the powder coating company right next to the K-12 school ) or even historically giant stinkers with recent industrial fires (Innova Foods).
However, because of the collusion between the local development council and these environmental protesters , the 1769 W. Pershing Road project may have a good shot at not being protested. Because it has the imprimateur and seeming engagement of the development council, it won't be protested by the environmental organizations for which council members are unstated collaborators.
It looks like the Department of Planning and Development is unfortunately considering the development council as a legitimate organization, even though it's comprised of a small cadre of unelected, self-appointed, unqualified individuals who never allow the public to participate in their operations or policies, and who spend more time attacking local businesses than helping them.
If MAT Asphalt is indeed such a danger, then the protesters should line up to kill all residential in the 1769 W. Pershing Road project, just like they did with the affordable housing project down the street. Indeed they should protest any market rate housing that comes into this area, however, I doubt they'll protest any environmental harms they can't tie into their specific opposition to MAT Asphalt and the funds they raise off of it. I would not be at all surprised to see the affordable housing building change into deluxe park-facing apartments without a peep from the "environmentalists" around here.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

2 months 3 weeks ago #4 by jpetsy
Thanks for replying. I see what you are getting at... I can't form an opinion on any disingenuousness but it was curious to me why N4EJ never makes a peep about other issues in the neighborhood. I personally do not encounter noticeable air pollution from MAT, however I am closer to Innova Foods and unfortunately have to deal with the multitude of strange smells emitting from there on a weekly basis. It is the single worst thing about my location in the neighborhood. I assumed N4EJ was created to address any/all the concerns, but I don't think I've ever heard them speak to those foul odors that clearly impact quality-of-life. "MckPark deserves clean air" resonated from my locale but it does feel they over index on MAT as the only culprit.

Anyway, seems antithetical to MPDC to protest any affordable housing when it is a chief concern in their comments in the various community gatherings I have attended... that's confusing to me so I'm not clear on why they would protest "the affordable housing project down the street" vs continuing to protest MAT directly. I must be missing context. Lastly, I think the 1769 W. Pershing Road process is what has been most appreciated, and so with the input of the previous studies and open dialogue with the community acknowledged, the project is deemed a success regardless of it's final features. Truthfully any protest or concerns which deter development of any of those buildings would be a grave error and missing the forest for the trees.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

2 months 3 weeks ago #5 by Justin Kerr
Thanks for your thoughts and questions.

The development council has never publicly protested the affordable housing development, but when I was on the board, some other members consistently spoke out against it during board meetings, without recusing themselves because of self-interest from the large, park-facing apartment building they owned exactly across the park from the now-killed affordable housing development.

The only local businesses that the McKinley Park Development Council has attacked is the McKinley Park News (without investigation, outreach or follow-up, as I wrote in a recent letter from the editor ) and industrialist Michael Tadin Jr., one of the owners of MAT Asphalt, and his purchase of the derelict Damen silos property.

Curiously enough, pre-COVID, a constituent regularly brought up the topic of redeveloping the Damen silos at development council meetings, but the council never undertook any action or investigation. When I was on the board, it formally passed a motion to not advocate for or against any particular development (or business), but instead be a channel of communications for the neighborhood. This clearly has been dropped by the wayside.

As I previously reported in the McKinley Park News , canceling of City of Chicago funding in 2020 came about after a closed-door meeting with unnamed "neighborhood advocates" and Chicago Department of Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara:

According to a copy of City of Chicago email correspondence received by this publication, Chicago Department of Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara met in late June 2020 with anti- MAT Asphalt advocates from the McKinley Park neighborhood."Advocates revisited their concerns about locating an affordable housing development in such close proximity to an asphalt plant that they believe is harmful to existing and future residents," the email states.

No one on the McKinley Park Development Council or Neighbors for Environmental Justice disclosed whether they were involved in this meeting or not, nor would the department of housing reveal who participated. However, on the same week as the closed-door meeting, one of the self-interested, property-owning development council board members -- an officer no less -- quit the council without providing any notice. This individual was at the time (and still may be) employed by the City of Chicago, working in its housing and development departments, with direct knowledge of internal initiatives like the affordable housing development.

Of course, Neighbors for Environmental Justice was at the vanguard of killing the affordable housing development, and they've directly colluded with the development council to attempt to damage my neighborhood business. If you know the individuals who are involved and their relations, and have been tracking and covering this for years as I have, you can see the direct collusion across these supposedly independent community groups, and the back-channel politicking they engage in that is prohibited for such 501(c)(3) not-for-profit groups.

The real question is how they're going to interfere in the latest development at 1769 W. Pershing Road. During the presentation this week, Nolan mentioned how a committee of three community representatives would be involved in this decision, but there was zero disclosure of who this would be, the standards for qualification, and how the decision-making process would proceed. (We've asked the department of housing for this, and they have not replied.) This hearkens back to the closed-door meeting in 2020 that was a key step in killing our neighborhood's chance for a big, nice affordable housing development.

Our neighborhood deserves transparency around development decisions (not to mention real environmental and development organizations), and these unelected, self-appointed, neighborhood-damaging saboteurs should not be allowed to get what they want via inside connections and secretive, selfish decision-making.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Business Grows Here - Space - Resources - Community