On Tuesday, June 3, 2014, 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston convened a meeting at the South Shore Cultural Center to provide an update on the efforts to secure a new grocery store for South Shore, as well as on the status of the Urban Partnership Bank properties. Deputy Mayor Steve Koch and Commissioner of Planning & Development Andy Mooney were also present to speak. At least 50 South Shore neighbors were in attendance.
Alderman Hairston opened the meeting by emphasizing that work is ongoing both to find a new grocer, and to make plans for the Urban Partnership Bank properties. She singled out Urban Partnership Bank for criticism for closing so rapidly, boarding up their building, and hiring a Bridgeport-based artist to paint it. On the grocery front, she emphasized that the recalcitrance of the owners of Jeffery Plaza is the main sticking point.
Deputy Mayor Steve Koch spoke on behalf of the mayor’s task force addressing the Dominick’s closures. There is plenty of interest in locating in South Shore (4 grocers currently negotiating), but the plaza owners will not sell the grocery store building, and they are demanding very steep rent ($8 more per square foot than market in the neighborhood).
Koch made two significant announcements:
- The City has allocated TIF money to incentivize a grocer to locate in South Shore (no comment on how much or from which TIF districts)
- The City is also actively shopping other locations and properties in South Shore (including Urban Partnership properties) to potential grocers, in an effort to go around the plaza’s absentee owners
Commissioner Mooney spoke briefly, mostly to underscore the two important announcements noted above. The Department of Planning & Development is very actively involved in this process.
Neighbors queued up to ask a number of questions, touching on the urgency of the grocery situation, the need for public input and accountability, and the importance of developing and realizing a broad long-term vision for the revitalization of 71st Street and South Shore generally.
Future updates will be provided at the regular 5th Ward meetings – the next is Tuesday, June 24 at La Rabida Children’s Hospital.