“Chicago Tonight” in Your Neighborhood: Concerns on the South Shore | Chicago News

The Obama Presidential Center announced Thursday that a number of its spaces will be named after historic human and civil rights figures. But as this center nears its opening date, a neighboring community is concerned about the impact of the center on longtime residents.

The South Rim community is found just south of Jackson Park along Lake Michigan, which is of concern to residents as well. Residents say high lake levels have caused beaches to shrink and damage to infrastructure.

Interactive map: More from our series of community reports

Nearly two years ago, neighbors formed the South Side Lakefront Erosion Task Force to address the issue, and their efforts intensified after the condominium collapsed in Surfside Florida over the summer.

Sharon Louis has lived on the South Shore since the 1960s and her apartment building offers a bird’s eye view of Lake Michigan, a defining feature of this neighborhood.

“The lake, of course, makes it special. The South Shore Cultural Center, I think, is the gem of the Park District. And then the people – they’re great people here, committed people, ready to get involved. And I have to say that if we are involved, our representatives are also involved. We are working well with our officials and hope to achieve positive results, ”said Louis.

But in recent years, high lake levels and extreme winter storms have caused flooding to streets and sewers and damaged lakeside properties. Louis and the South Side Lakeside Erosion Task Force want better protections for 73rd Street and 73rd Place.

“They’re both still taking a lot of damage from the lake force storms,” ​​said Juliet Dervin of the task force. “It’s a big problem for public safety and infrastructure. The street we’re on now, 73rd Street, was once about three or four feet lower. It was built. What we are seeing are sinkholes that appear when these big storms hit. “

The task force is proposing a breakwater at 73rd Street and 73rd Place to eliminate these sinkholes and other flooding. It is estimated to cost around $ 5 million and they hope to complete it around 2022-2023. The breakwater is supported by local State Representative Curtis J. Tarver II.

“With infrastructure funds from the state and / or the federal government, there is a lot to be done,” Tarver said. “There is water that not only affects private property, but US 41, so it affects bus routes, it affects people who are trying to get to work and to work. school.”

Video: Watch our full interview with State Representative Curtis Tarver II


As we mentioned, the effect of Obama’s next presidential center is another cause for concern, which has preoccupied the Community Benefits Agreement coalition since its announcement.

Organizer Dixon Romeo says that while they are proud of the former president and his ties to the community, activists fear they are already seeing residential displacement.

“The owners (can) say, ‘Hey, Mrs Johnson, I know you’ve been living here for 30 years. You paid your rent every month. You are a good tenant. But there is nothing I can do about this unit (and) I can increase the price by 20, 30, 40% and have someone else come here. ‘ That’s what people will do if there aren’t some laws and protections in place like the ones we’ve put forward to try to ensure that tenants can stay in the neighborhood, that the city has programs for that. tenants become owners, and that we have protections for our owners, ”said Romeo.

Dixon says the Coalition has made a number of demands on the area’s aldermen to protect longtime residents, ranging from establishing a loan fund for the purchase and rehabilitation of vacant houses and buildings to the ensuring that there is sufficient affordable housing for low-income tenants. . But he also says some of their requests are free: like granting long-time residents the right of return.

All of that said, Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th Ward) says she did not receive these requests from the CBA Coalition, but worked with the South Shore Community Compact, a group of 30 South Shore groups that are planning to make an announcement on what they want soon.

One of the groups that are thinking about the future of South Shore is the Neighborhood Network Alliance, which is the project manager of an effort called (Re) imagine South Shore. They hosted a series of summits asking residents to reflect on their priorities for the future of the community.

“Affordable housing is one, arts and culture is another, public safety, economic development, (and) health and wellness… mentioned. “Now that the Obama Center is coming, the investments are coming. People have their eyes on the South Shore, and now things are starting to move.

Video: Watch our full interview with Free val


For some, there is a lot of excitement for the nearby Obama Center.

Chef Tsadakeeyah Emmanuel and his wife own Majani, a vegan soul food restaurant that WTTW News first visited on day two of our COVID Across Chicago series at the start of the pandemic.

Emmanuel says the OPC presents an opportunity for his business. He was fortunate enough to attend one of the Obama summits and meet the former president and the first lady, and believes the center could mean a positive transformation for companies like his.

In fact, the location of his restaurant on the South Shore was closed Thursday due to a staff shortage, which restaurants are experiencing across the city during this phase of the pandemic. Emmanuel says it’s a problem that started at the start of this year, and has escalated this summer.

“(It meant) sort of a blackout situation, where we had to shut down one restaurant to get these staff to the other restaurant. We managed as best we could. We always tried to open at 11 am anyway. And we just had to let that go, like, “you know what, today we can’t.” We just have to follow what is presented to us, ”Emmanuel said.

Chef Emmanuel says he has also seen his share of supply chain challenges, often making adjustments when something he needs can’t be ordered or delivered on time.


Community Report Series

“Chicago Tonight” Expands Community Reporting. We take to the streets to speak with your neighbors, local businesses, agencies and leaders about COVID-19, the economy, racial justice, education and more. Find out where we’ve been and what we’ve learned using the map below. Or select a community using the drop-down menu. Points in Red represent our COVID-19 Across Chicago series; blue marks our “Chicago Tonight” series in Your Neighborhood.



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