Editor’s note: The following letter was sent to James Hanson, principal at Mesa Development LLC, the developers of the proposed high-rise at the McMobil site across from Nichols Park
Dear Mr. Hanson:
The South East Chicago Commission has been involved in leading and facilitating visioning workshops in which members of the Hyde Park community have given input on the redevelopment of 53rd Street. Most recently, more than 200 community members met in April 2012 to discuss, among other things, redevelopment of the Mobil site. The building that has been proposed for that site will not address every potential issue that may arise on 53rd Street, nor should it be expected to. What it will do is bring new uses for the site that will benefit the broader community. It will also provide several additions that people said they wanted to see along the corridor, to include more retail options, dedicated green space, and additional parking.
The proposed building will provide more places to live in Hyde Park and, in turn, more people to shop, eat out, work out, and go to movies in Hyde Park — enabling the entire community to enjoy such options within our own neighborhood. It would bring new housing options for people of various means — with a commitment to 15 percent of affordable units in the building and an additional 5 percent elsewhere in the neighborhood. The project would generate new jobs for our community, both temporary construction jobs and long-term jobs in building management and maintenance, and operation of any retail stores components. The building’s design is set back from the street, which serves to offset its height in comparison to the surrounding area. Its proximity to Nichols Park would encourage greater use of the park, potentially making the overall area safer with increased foot traffic and activity.
While it would be more favorable for the proposed building to have an additional floor of parking, or a more sizeable number of parking spaces dedicated specifically for the retail, the South East Chicago Commission believes the proposed plan to redevelop the Mobil site will serve to enhance the ongoing quality of life within Hyde Park, and we heartily support it.
Wendy Walker Williams
Executive Director, SECC