Six more years

Each year since 2000, the Chicago Housing Authority has altered its schedule for completing the rebuilding and rehabbing of 25,000 public housing units. And now, according to a draft version of the CHA’s 2007 Annual Plan, the agency is pushing the deadline back six years to 2015.

Until now, the CHA has long maintained that the massive $1.6 billion plan for tearing down high-rises, rebuilding some of those units in new, mixed-income developments and rehabbing existing family properties—popularly known as “The Plan for Transformation”—would be finished by the end of 2009.

In the annual plan’s introductory letter, CHA chairperson Sharon Gist Gilliam and Chief Executive Officer Terry Peterson cite dwindling federal funds, increased construction and labor costs, and the involvement of a larger cast of “public and private partners” as reasons for pushing back the completion date.

In the annual plan, the housing authority said it will have completed 20,000 of the 25,000 units by the end of 2009. The CHA says that’s enough “to house virtually all CHA families who are legally entitled to a public housing unit as of October 1, 1999.” A closer look at the numbers reveals that most of the 5,000 units to be built between 2010 and 2015 are mixed-income replacements for former CHA developments such as ABLA, Madden Park, Ida B. Wells, Robert Taylor Homes and Stateway Gardens. The 20,000 units scheduled for delivery by 2009 are mostly rehabs of senior housing, scattered-site and existing family developments.

The three largest mixed-income developments will not be completed until 2015. By 2009, a total of 1,467 units of public housing were to be completed at Roosevelt Square, formerly known asABLA—short for the Jane Addams Homes, Robert H. Brooks Homes, Loomis Courts, and Grace Abbott Apartments. Under new draft plans, most of the new mixed-income public housing at Roosevelt Square will be built between 2010 and 2015, with anywhere from 111 to 198 units completed each year.

More than 1,800 units of replacement public housing at Madden Park, Ida B. Wells and the Robert Taylor Homes have been pushed back until 2015, as well. Cabrini Extension North, Stateway Gardens and Rockwell Gardens are scheduled for completion by 2012. The Henry Horner Homes and Hilliard Homes are the only mixed-income developments that will be finished before the original 2009 deadline.

More than 7,800 units of replacement housing—up from 6,219 last year—are included in the draft 2007 plan. The increase comes from the inclusion of new mixed-income developments for residents of the Lathrop Homes, LeClaire Courts Extension, Lawndale Complex and Washington Park Homes. The fates of these developments were not included in previous annual plans.

For the first time, the CHA has publicly announced its plans for these developments. Earlier this summer, Lathrop residents found out their complex would be demolished and replaced by a 1,200-unit mixed-income development that includes 400 public housing units.

The draft report also includes demolition plans for parts of LeClaire Courts and the LeClaire Courts Extension, which is located just west of Cicero Avenue between 42nd and 45th streets. In 2007, the CHA plans to demolish a daycare and school, community center and food distribution site, as well as, offices that house tenant patrol, management and service connectors.

The redevelopment of LeClaire Courts will likely be folded into a larger plan known as the South Cicero Corridor Redevelopment. LeClaire Courts also includes 147 units of City/State property that are not part of the CHA. On the city’s Department of Planning website, plans detailing every part of the corridor are available for download. Missing though are plans and maps of LeClaire Courts.

Redevelopment plans obtained by The Chicago Reporter earlier this year indicate that the city and the CHA have already envisioned three possible mixed-income scenarios for LeClaire Courts, described as “Very Conservative”, “Conservative” and “Moderate.” All proposals include 547 units of replacement housing but vary in the amount of affordable and market-rate housing units.

All of the scenarios propose razing 200 low-rise CHA units alongside Cicero Avenue and replacing them with retail fronts. Lost public housing units would be rebuilt on top of the retail stores, along 47th Street and scattered throughout the surrounding neighborhood.

This is somewhat consistent with information released this month in the CHA’s draft annual plan. In the draft, the housing authority said it will build 300 replacement public housing units both on- and off-site. The report also indicates that the CHA is looking for a developer and shopping a ground lease for businesses. If approved, the redevelopment would involve funds from a city tax-increment finance district.

The draft annual plan also included, for the first time, plans for the Francis Cabrini Extension South, William Green Homes and 1230 North Burling properties. The CHA plans to develop 500 units but construction and rehab would not begin until 2011. The CHA has also pushed demolition of most buildings at Cabrini Extension South and the William Green Homes back to 2008.

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