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Plans for a tennis, retail complex on old Taylor homes site prompt calls for more affordable housing

Updated: August 31, 2013 6:18AM



Chicago Housing Authority board members will decide Tuesday morning if Robert Taylor Homes, a demolished public housing development in Bronzeville, will turn into “Tennis Village,” a tennis and retail complex.

About 30 protesters delivered a letter to the CHA Monday morning to protest the proposal to sell the land, at 51st and State, and turn it into tennis training company XS Tennis.

Over 4,300 units of the development’s public housing were demolished by 2007. The protesters said 300 units have been replaced so far, even though 800 replacement units were promised.

The proposal also includes swapping land that used to be the Harold Ickes Homes, another public housing development in Bronzeville, with the City of Chicago and CPS for the development of an athletic facility for Jones High School.

“How can you vote on whether you’re going to swap or sell land when you don’t even know if there’s going to be replacement housing for people?” said Roderick Wilson, protest organizer and executive director for the Bronzeville-based Lugenia Burns Hope Center.

The CHA released a short statement Monday afternoon explaining the proposal and saying that the public comment period was from May 28 to July 5. The statement said there was a public hearing on June 11, at which three people spoke. The statement also said that Tennis Village will encourage job growth and community building.

“This proposal has received support from local elected officials,” read the statement. “Sufficient land also remains at this site to allow for housing development and to accommodate those residents who have the right to return.”

But some Bronzeville residents are worried that the CHA will not deliver on its promise to provide replacement housing for those who have been displaced by the destruction of the developments. CHA spokesperson Matthew Aguilar said there are almost 42,000 people on the CHA’s public housing waiting list.

“I’m not an urban planner or a developer, but it makes sense for [the CHA] to have the replacement units ready before they start going around selling land,” said Wilson. “Just have a plan for what’s going to happen, that’s all we’re asking.”

The protesters also complained that the lack of public housing options only affect Chicago’s black population.

“It affects mostly people who look like me, people of brown and black skin color. It’s offensive because it’s racist,” said Kenwood resident Ayanna Allen, 36, a housing organizer with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization.

“There is no proof that this city is trying to integrate families into all areas,” she added. “This is still a very highly segregated city.”



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