By Holly Kane
Before security escorted Stephanie Hayes and about a dozen members of her group out of a meeting Tuesday, the longtime Rogers Park resident asked board members to think about approving a development deal that she fears would disrupt her community.
“We just want to be left alone, and be in peace,” Hayes said in front of the Chicago Housing Authority Board of Commissioners. “We want to have our little garden in the space in the back, where we can sit and get fresh air, see the butterflies and the bees the ants, plant a few flowers, and maybe even have a barbecue once in a while.”
Hayes has lived in the Caroline Hedger Apartments, a 436-unit senior building in Rogers Park, since 2013. The unanimously approved development deal allows for the construction of a 111-unit mixed-use development anchored by a 23,000-square-foot Target in the “vacant Hedger parking lot,” according to the agenda.
Hayes and members of ONE Northside, a housing advocacy organization, spoke at a press conference outside the CHA building before the meeting. John Quirk has lived in Caroline Hedger Apartments since 2008. Before that, he lived in an SRO in Uptown.
“Public land is not for private property” Quirk said at the meeting. “Some are for mixed-use development. … I’m against mixed-up-use development.”
Three Corners Development president Christopher Woods said the vote signaled a step in the right direction for the project, and said the resistance means there needs to be continued communication with the community.
“Today is just a step in the process,” Woods said. “We need to continue to engage and communicate.”
Hayes’ next step will be “flooding the neighborhood” with literature and petition requests ahead of ONE Northside’s meeting with Ald. Moore next week.
Bishop James Alan Wilkowski of the Northwest Diocese, in his collar, spoke at the press conference but could not make it to the meeting due to pain in his legs.
“Knowing the 49th Ward as well as I do, I can’t even begin to understand why they want to put a Target in the neighborhood,” Wilkowski said before the meeting. “I regret that the alderman has become a concubine for Target.”
Target representative Lori Jones testified to the board that the store’s manager, when hired, will be a “catalyst for neighborhood involvement.” After the meeting, she said career fairs will encourage neighborhood residents to apply for work and Target will work with the alderman’s office to stay in touch with the community, although they had no specific plans and no store manager.
“It all seems to come together once the stores open,” Jones said.