A passionate crowd was on hand at last night's community meeting as Lathrop Community Partners (LCP) presented yet another redevelopment scheme for Lathrop Homes. LCP, which has teamed up with Related Midwest, envisions the sprawling, historically-significant housing project as a fully-integrated part of the surrounding community, with mixed incomes, dynamic retail corridors, and a host of amenities that will attract new people to the area. To recap, this latest—and nearly final—master plan calls for a total of 1,208 units on the 32-acre site, bounded by Diversey, Clybourn, Damen, and the Chicago River. The units break down as follows: 504 market-rate, 212 affordable-rate, and 400 dedicated to public housing residents. Also included in the final tally are 92 existing senior housing units that will remain untouched by the development. Although 14 of the 17 buildings on the northern portion of the site will be preserved, only a few original structures located south of Diversey will be spared the wrecking ball. All this comes amid harsh criticism from Lathrop residents and some community activists who remain strongly opposed to the demolition of historic buildings and the introduction of market-rate units.
As part of its plan to rebrand the Lathrop Homes site, LCP hopes to tap the potential of its riverfront location by creating three major outdoor attractions: River's Edge Park, Schubert Square, and Powerhouse Plaza, all of which would function as multipurpose spaces for concerts, farmers markets, and the like. Also in the works is a large public park extending along the river north and south of Diversey that could eventually connect both sides of the site. All of the newly-constructed buildings will be 2-8 stories tall, except for the mixed-income, "iconic tower" of unknown height planned for the southern tip of the site. As for the existing historic buildings, they will receive interior upgrades, landscaping, and other enhancements. Some of the units could serve as live-work, zero commute residences. Other intriguing possibilities: 25,000-square feet of new retail, a water taxi station, linear fountains known as "Blue Streets," an elementary school, a boat launch, or a community garden.
The development team has proposed a number of solutions to address traffic concerns and improve access to the somewhat isolated site. Seven new pedestrian crosswalks are planned, along with an improved riverfront trail. Motorists will be able to avoid traffic congestion at the Diversey/Clybourn/Damen intersection using two new bypass routes. Street parking near that intersection would also be eliminated to increase traffic flow. Three new east-west streets south of Diversey will link up the site to Damen, allowing for a greater connection to the surrounding street grid. Finally, a landscaped mid-block crosswalk will provide a safer, more inviting path to cross a busy stretch of Diversey. As for the timetable, the multi-phase redevelopment project, which is projected to cost several hundred million dollars, will be submitted this fall as a Planned Development (PD). Phase 1 could kick off as soon as 2015, with final delivery by 2016. After that, things get a bit more uncertain. Check back for more!
·Curbed's Complete Lathrop Homes Coverage [Curbed Chicago]
·Lathrop Community Partners [official]