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National Parks Service Pushes Back on Lathrop Redevelopment Plan

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The Lathrop Community Partners could lose millions in federal funds

The Lathrop Community Partners, a group composed of various developers and stakeholders looking to redevelop the aging Lathrop Homes public housing complex, could be facing a large gap in funding if an impasse with the National Parks Service is not resolved. According to a letter that was written to the group back in December, but only brought to light just this week, the National Parks Service indicated that the Lathrop Community Partners' application does not meet the Secretary of the Interior's standards and was put on hold largely due to the "extensive demolition of historic buildings and major new construction" that the proposal called for. According to DNAinfo, which obtained the letter from the National Parks Service, the letter means that millions in Historic Rehab Tax Credits are on hold. However, the proposal was introduced to the Chicago Plan Commission back in February where it earned support of the commission.

The proposal, which has been in the works for several years, includes the preservation and redevelopment of 14 of the historic brick structures located north of Diversey Parkway, while the structures located on the southern section of the 32-acre site will be demolished to make way for new construction and roads. It's this part of the plan that the National Parks Service has an issue with, and it's also the part of the plan that the Lathrop Community Partners did not provide concrete details for during the Plan Commission review. The National Parks Service asks for further clarification for the second and third phases, but adds that they had "previously identified substantive problems with earlier schematic plans" that the group had shared as the "historic tax credits are designed to encourage the rehabilitation of historic buildings and not their demolition." However, the parks service does call the addition of the overhauled great lawn and reduced parking "commendable improvements" over earlier plans.

Related Midwest president Curt Bailey tells Curbed that the redeveloped Lathrop will become the "gold standard" for future mixed-income, public-private housing developments. He also states that the newly constructed buildings south of Diversey will provide a great improvement in the quality of life for residents as they will be ADA compliant and feature modern amenities and design. Bailey also adds that the redeveloped Lathrop with its park designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh and access to the Chicago River will further add to quality of life improvements. When asked about the where the Lathrop Community Partners stand in terms of the National Parks Service tax credits, Bailey tells us that they "are continuing to work with the park service on a weekly basis to come to a resolution on this critically important development for Chicago."

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