To the Editor:
We are Hyde Parkers who have filed suit against the City of Chicago to reverse the rezoning of the McMobil property allowing a 155-foot building on that site. The University of Chicago and its agents want us to think that this is a done deal. And without the lawsuit, they are right. With the lawsuit, we have a chance for a more appropriate development that will better reflect the wishes of the community.
The new zoning is illegal – Chicago and Illinois law require zoning to respect the “existing uses and zoning of nearby property.” Under Illinois law, citizens can request de novo review by the courts.
This building would set a precedent for the scale of future development nearby. There would be no legal grounds to challenge a 20-story building at the corner of 53rd and Dorchester, for example, and we see no reason to believe that the university would stray from the position that bigger is better.
This is the wrong building for the site. Details of our objections can be found on our website at save53rdstreet.org, but the fundamental problem is that it is out of scale with its surroundings. We want to see 53rd Street developed, but not as a Lincoln Park South or a downtown Schaumburg.
There is significant community opposition to a project of this size at this location. Since the first visioning workshop in 2007 this opposition has been consistently expressed, and it has been just as consistently ignored by the university, which seems determined to make this project as big as possible.
Ald. Will Burns (4th) seems to agree with the university. He touts the “compromise” of a reduction from 14 to 13 stories as all we could ever want. His unwillingness to listen to his constituents has led us to this step.
Please join us! Visit save53rdstreet.org for ways to help out.
Spokesperson for the plaintiffs