McMobil plan will benefit Hyde Park and Kenwood

To the Editor:

I’d like to express my agreement with the Coalition for Equitable Community Development’s letter in the March 27 Herald. Their letter states some of the benefits that the proposed “McMobil site” project will have for Hyde Park-Kenwood. The letter underscores the economic realities that the project’s opponents have ignored or overlooked. Further, the project has not requested public (taxpayer) investment; this is refreshing in Chicago.

Opposition to the project has largely focused on unfounded predictions of traffic gridlock and impossible parking. Sure, any development is likely to produce some increase in traffic levels and parking demand. But if that’s a reason to squelch a project, nothing would ever get built. The project’s mandatory zoning change requires a Planned Development, which takes into consideration impacts on transportation, parking and access.

Instead of being the source of a traffic nightmare, the project is pedestrian friendly and reflects the concept of Transit Oriented Development (TOD). The TOD concept encourages an unobstructed pedestrian pathway to transit, such as 53rd Street, enhanced by retail development along the way. With CTA and Metra transit one-fourth to three-eighths mile away, the new building is well within easy walking distance from buses and trains. Both shopkeepers and residents will benefit from this. That’s good TOD.

The project, led by Mesa Development, will have a physical scale compatible with the Hyde Park Bank and Harper Court, and it will nicely anchor the west end of the 53rd Street commercial area. The development will achieve LEED Silver certification, provide high-quality residences including affordable housing, and will employ and contract with minorities and women. It promises to enhance Hyde Park-Kenwood’s residential and commercial life. I encourage Alderman Burns to give it his support.

Richard R. Gill