The Chicago Fireball Center is planned for 26 acres of Housing Authority land, the City Council has acknowledged |  Chicago News
The Chicago Fireball Center is planned for 26 acres of Housing Authority land, the City Council has acknowledged | Chicago News

The Chicago Fireball Center is planned for 26 acres of Housing Authority land, the City Council has acknowledged | Chicago News

The Chicago City Council on Wednesday voted 37 to 11 to approve a controversial 26-acre site that the Chicago Housing Authority will give to the Chicago Fire Football Club.

The measure faces an uncertain future after it failed to pass the city council’s zoning committee on Tuesday. But the Chairman of the Committee Ald. Tom Tunney (Ward 44) ​​adjourned the meeting and brought members back into a short session Wednesday morning, where he passed despite objections.

The Fire’s plan is to convert the west side of the open field into a soccer field and practice and administration building. The vacant lot was part of the larger CHA complex known as the Addams-Brooks-Loomis-Abbott houses. Many of these homes were demolished two decades ago as part of the CHA’s “Transformation Plan,” but the public housing authority has more than made promises to rebuild.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Council’s Zoning, Landmarks and Building Committee, the deal fell by a vote of 7 to 5. Several council members opposed allowing a private sports team owned by billionaire Joe Mansueto to build a stadium there. football land reserved for needy residents.

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As ProPublica and WTTW News reported in June, the CHA and related Midwest developers are about 1,800 units behind new or renovated housing promised for the site, with about 30,000 people on the public housing agency’s waiting list. .

After the initial failure of the impromptu deal — backed by the CHA, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Planning Commission — Tunney rescheduled the meeting and called it Wednesday at 9:30 a.m., just 30 minutes before the full City Council session. of the day.

Three council members changed their vote to approve the deal Wednesday: Ald. Felix Cardona (31st District), Ald. David Moore (17th Ward) and Ald. Mike Rodriguez (Episode 22). The measure passed the committee, 10-5.

Ald. Anthony Beale (9th Ward), a staunch opponent of the measure that would have allowed the soccer center on land designated for public housing, tried to review the deal before the vote. Beale said Tunney’s attempt to return to the conference was “totally out of order”.

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“I’ve never seen a vote taken by the committee and then rejected and then because we don’t like the result of the vote we come back together to vote again the next day,” Beale said.

A photo of the proposed Chicago Fire Club cultural center on what used to be the Chicago Housing Authority property. (Owned by the Chicago Department of Planning and Development.)

The measure then went to the regular session of the city council. Ald. Jason Ervin (28th Ward), whose church is located in the proposed development, asked his colleagues to support the measure, calling it “very beneficial” to nearby CHA tenants.

“The people who live here support this effort,” said Ervin.

A variety of his colleagues — including Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th Precinct), Ald. Emma Mitts (37th Ward), Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th Ward), Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41st Ward) and Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38th Ward) – supported the plan, many argued that the council should continue the practice of Alderman’s priority and vote on the will of the local council.

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“I warned you that this would lead,” Napolitano said, noting that the council voted in his favor last December when it approved a housing development in his community, which he rejected. Despite this, Napolitano backed the deal with fire.

Several city councilors opposed the plan, citing the city’s decades of failure to provide enough affordable housing to meet demand.

“The reform plan has failed,” said Ald. Jeanette Taylor (Center 20), who discovered she had been on the CHA waiting list for nearly three decades.

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (Center 25) echoed these comments. “There is an urgent need to create affordable social housing,” he said.

Sigcho-Lopez asked that the initiative be postponed and made public, which would delay the vote by a month. He was accompanied by Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th district).

Mayor Lori Lightfoot ruled that the motion was not in order, and the deal fell through.

Contact Nick Blumberg: [email protected] | (773) 509-5434 | @ndblumberg


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