The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

    Vi Daley’s approval of New Webster Square upsets residents

    On Tuesday, March 1, 43rd Ward Alderman Vi Daley announced in an e-mail that she would no longer delay the development project on the site of Lincoln Park Hospital, in spite of opposition from local residents during a meeting the previous night.The project, dubbed New Webster Square, includes a 47-foot high apartment building on Grant Place, the Webster Building, a 120-unit dwelling residence, as well as office and retail buildings with professional and medical offices, as well as 255-space parking, on the site of the now-closed Lincoln Park Hospital on 550 W. Webster Ave.

    In a meeting that took place on Monday, Feb. 28, in the Lincoln Park High School auditorium, developers presented changes made to the project, such as reduction of the height of the buildings and redesign of a loading dock.

    But for the majority of the almost 200 people who gathered in the auditorium, these changes were not enough.

    Words such as “this big box,” “elephant,” and “nightmare scenario” were used by a handful of residents to describe the project, with proposed concessions being called “inadequate” and “minimal at best.”

    Retail component of the project remained the biggest concern. Residents expressed fear that Lincoln Park would lose its historical value and local grocery stories would be forced to go bankrupt.

    “This is the wrong thing for this congested 19th century neighborhood. Go away. Take it somewhere to the suburbs, where it belongs,” said Ruth McDowell, resident of 2238 N. Geneva Terrace.

    But after more than a year of continuous debates, the developers were getting tired as well.

    “It’s the same people raising the same concerns every time. No matter how many changes we make, they’re still not happy,” said Marilyn Katz, President of MK Communications, the public strategy firm responsible for community outreach as well as strategic counsel and planning for the main developer of the project, Sandz Development.

    As the debate heated up, Kim Schilf, president and CEO of the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce, was booed, after saying she supports the redevelopment. After Ald. Daley intervened, Schilf said the project would bring jobs and security in these tense economic times.

    One resident suggested that Ald. Daley should not make any binding decisions, but leave it to her successor, who will be determined in the run-off elections on April 5, between Michele Smith and Tim Egan.

    However, on March 1, Ald. Vi Daley sent out at an e-mail in which she announced that based on the results of a referendum in which 56.5 percent of residents voted against and 43.5 percent for the project, she has reached her final decision.

    “Based on this small difference, which mirrors the division in the immediate area, I will not delay this project any longer and I will vote to approve this project at City Council,” she said in the e-mail, adding, “There are many attributes to this project and it is time for us to come together and move forward.