A Land Grab in the 8th Ward?: It Appears That the Alderman is Selling Out the Pill Hill Community

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27th Ward Alderman said Alderman Harris doesn’t have to answer to the community…really?

By Pamela Bratcher-McMillan

Proposed site for 7 story low income senior housing projectThere were 12 plus speakers from the 8th Ward who made firm, challenging presentations at the Chicago Development Committee meeting April 19th in City Hall against a proposed low income Section 8 Senior housing coming to the Ward.

Nonetheless, 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett Jr. took it upon himself (he doesn’t live in the 8th Ward or the Pill Hill area) to rudely interrupt a community speaker while she had the floor. No apology came from the 8th Ward Alderman Michelle Harris. 27th Ward Ald. Burnett stated that Harris  does not have to answer to the community. Say What? Really? Maybe if she is defeated in the next election, February 26, 2019, that statement will play itself out.

27th Ward residents would be wise to question Burnett’s mannerism and tactics if they think of him as a leader. How can someone in the 27th Ward feel that they can make decisions about what is best for the 8th Ward? When he offered to take the building in his ward he got shouted down by the audience, telling him to “take it!”

Interesting enough though, there were 12 plus people there who opposed the project, stating that they lived in the affected area where the proposed low-income senior housing project will be built; and a few others that wanted the $38-million, 134 unit, 7 Story building to come into the ward, never made known where they lived (if they did) in the area even after being asked. Obviously, they didn’t live in the area. One man mentioned that he built a $250,000 property next to the low-income housing on East 78th Street and claimed that his property value went up.  Not sure how that’s possible when homes in the area go for a lot less now. A visit to any real estate site will reveal this.

Realtor.com states in a “Property Overview” that the median sales price for the Far Southeast Side area is $76,000. The $114,077 estimated value is 3.73% less than the median listing price of $118,500 for the Far Southeast Side area.

Nearby schools include Avalon Park Elementary School, Shabazz International Charter Schools and Hirsch Metropolitan High School.  That is certainly no comparison to Pill Hill homes that go for twice that amount and is in a much more desirable area.

During one of the meetings, it was mentioned that the property values can go down for those owning properties in the area, and that crime and taxes increase when you build such structures nearby.

Have you ever noticed that there is always a lust for land near highways and waterways? Think about it! And certainly, it’s not hard to figure out why South Shore property is in demand and being bought up for pennies on the dollar. That huge lot on Stony Island Ave. (9329 to 9429) where the senior home is proposed to be built was sold for a mere $800,000 but is worth much more now. Try buying that much land up on the North side near a major highway (if you can find one), and see the difference in cost.

In a meeting where 8th Ward staff attended, community activist Marcel Bright asked about a marketing study that was done about the area which allegedly showed a need for low income senior housing. To date, he, nor anyone else affiliated with the Concerned Citizens of the 8th Ward has been provided a copy of the study. It was also said by an audience member that all of the land being grabbed up by developers today was mostly in black communities.

While the battle continues to save the 8th Ward from negative influence, it is obvious that those who don’t live in the community are trying to buy up and sell-out the community in an effort to eventually force people out with more crime and rising property taxes.

Why the Pill Hill community? Why now?  All of these going-on, and the 8th Ward Alderman has yet to meet with residents that would be most affected by this project.

The Chicago Plan Commission, consisting mostly of Caucasians, made a decision about a black community they do not know anything about or live in the area. Yet, they are strongly supporting the development being imposed on Pill Hill residents and their community.

Linda Hudson, a candidate for alderman in the 8th Ward, made some valid points that were somewhat unsettling, including that the 8th Ward alderman’s organization had taken donations from the developer who wants to build the low-income senior housing project in a business district, and that the zoning would have to be changed to B3-3! That opens the door for other like businesses to set up shop on Stony Island Ave.

What the 8th Ward Alderman is doing is contributing to the decline of the Black Community in Chicago, allowing land to be sold to non-black developers. She is taking away the hope of young blacks looking to stay in the community and build their businesses on Stony Island. Blacks are being excluded from the recovering job market in an attempt to force them to the South where all of a sudden there is plenty of work for them. It’s called reverse migration.

Unfortunately, the 8th Ward and 27th Ward Aldermen do not have the leadership skills and abilities, nor do they have the experience or economics background to understand how all of this can play out in the end. Their lack of experience or knowledge is just plain ignorance and is costing the community in a big way. What was obvious to me and others was that after the meeting those in the crowd felt that the 8th Ward needs a new Alderman. “It’s time for change!,” they said.

Elect Linda Hudson for 8th Ward Alderman

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