Woodlawn Ave. Corridor- PD 43 Meeting of January 19 2012

This page is solely a document of hydepark.org and sets forth various views on the matter. It does not express policy of HPKCC or any other organization or formal or informal preservation group. Writer Gary Ossewaarde
A service of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and its Development, Preservation, and Zoning Committee and their website, www.hydepark.org. Send us your additions and corrections: hpkcc@aol.com.
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A VERY SUCCESSFUL PUBLIC MEETING WAS HELD ON JANUARY 19 2012 THAT SEEMS TO CLOSE THE CONTROVERSY AND TO PROVIDE FOR ONGOING DIALOGUE. (Consideration of an historic district by neighbors will however continue and seems now a separate matter.)
This page or another will look at details in the updated Amendment language and the Plan for Woodlawn Avenue 5700 Block.

SEE ALSO newly filed Protective Language for the new Woodlawn Sub-area, and the Woodlawn Plan published by the University in:
http://news.uchicago.edu/behind-the-news/planned-development-43. To find changes and additions filed to the PD Amendment, look for "PD_Statements_1-18-12". Better to go to http://news.uchicago.edu, find Behind the News, then PD Amendment, there subdocuments.

Roger Huff, lead community negotiator, wrote ahead of the meeting

As a result of a meeting held last week with a few community members and feedback from the City of Chicago, the University has made a number of positive revisions to its proposed PD43 amendment, including:
+ Creating a new Subarea O that includes its properties fronting the 5700 block of Woodlawn Avenue,
+ Explicitly recognizing the 'character-defining features' of its 'heritage properties' in the new Subarea, and
+ Adopting a height restriction of 65 feet for the new Subarea.

Allison Hartman commented January 19 in an email to Good Neighbors before the meeting:

Just got back from a quick meeting with the U of C at Leslie Hairston's
office. Having a Alderman who is on our side has been the best of all possible
worlds. All in all this has been a very pleasant surprise. We were really
listened to by the U of C. We certainly did not get all we asked for but we
got way more than I expected. Please go to tonight's meeting and get the new
paperwork. It is way more explicit and you will be able to see what we have

If you have more specific questions, ask Roger Huff. He did most of the heavy
lifting. We all owe him a vote of thanks. He will be at tonight's meeting.

Attendee Jay Mulberry said in Good Neighbors blog:

I went to the meeting last night and was very, very impressed with the way the University and the community came to accord on this important issue. Truly, it is the first time in my memory that such a reasonable and verifiable agreement was reached, and reached through common commitment to finding a solution.
A lot of credit is deserved by people on all sides but since I can't remember many names let me give my impression that our fellow Good Neighbor and Villager Roger Huff was extremely important in bringing the group together and getting real work done.
Thanks Roger, and all the rest of you University and community leaders!

Roger Huff during Q and A:

Roger Huff of the neighbors representatives thanked every party for contributing, noting that they were a broad cross-section. The work was productive and an a good example of working together and creating dialogue. He noted that height turned out to be a serious concern and was addressed and so were memorializing intention and process. Asked if the result is now "A Go," he responded "Yes."

Record of the January 19, 2011 meeting on PD43 and the Woodlawn Avenue Corridor

Distributed: The University of Chicago Woodlawn Avenue Plan Sub-Area 0, 2012-2016. Plan for the University of Chicago-owned properties in the 5700 block of South Woodlawn Avenue and 5757 South University Avenue. (Document under review by the City of Chicago Dept. of Housing and Economic Development.)

Statement by Alderman Hairston

As many of you know, I slowed the Amendment down for community input and because of the many expressions of community concern about the future of the transition zone between the university campus and the neighborhood. I also support campus growth and development of three university projects. We needed to strike a balance. After the November [9] meeting, the University postponed filing its amendment while I hosted a at my office number of small meetings between the university and neighbor volunteers [requested at the November meeting]. I thank the participants: Roger Huff, Jonathon Fine, Betsy Young, allison Hartman, Devereux Bowly, city staff Eleanor Gorski and Heather Gleason [and university staff and law firm later in statement.]

I am pleased with the progress made, which consists of seven commitments:

The Alderman read from a letter by David Greene, UC VP for Strategic Initiatives: Greene committed to increased communication and collaboration, meaningful transparency, and to the"historic character of our community and the Woodlawn gateway."

["O" is the letter, not the numeral.]

Derek Douglas, recently hired VP for Civic Engagement

Douglas thanked the alderman, teams and all. He is aware of the importance of community engagement to the neighborhoods and shares the commitments expressed in David Greene's letter. Also, he will develop a process for handling many issues promoting a back-and-forth of ideas and build on connections and commitments important to the university an community.

Alicia Murasaki of planning and construction

She reviewed the purposes of the PD 43 Amendment:

Newly added and rolled out tonight: Language governing a new Sub-Area O, which is the 5700 Block of South Woodlawn and including the rest of the Becker-Friedman complex (former Chicago Theological Seminary).

Steve Wiesenthal, University Architect and Associate Vice President

He emphasized that main parts of the campus are very different from each other: Biomed/sciences, Main Quads, and South Campus.

He went over main points of their three projects- Childcare West is the first such facility for university staff onsite and th e want it to one-story, cheerful, and have adjacency to the outdoors. It will be managed by Bright Horizons.

Eckhardt is the lab to incorporate engineering. It is also to be transparent/translucent and to add heft to Ellis Ave. as a spine.

The Co-op Bookstore to be located at 5751 S. Woodlawn (present McGiffert) is to keep some of the feel and sense of the old store including open browsing tables and add space for signings and readings and a cafe facing new landscaping to the south. Total sf is 11,000 occupying first floor and partial basement. The first floor will be glassy and bright with new facade. It will have to have ADA accessibility and landscaping. They promise to do something about the "parking lot" to the north.

Traffic management. Will be updated every two years. The engineering firm is here to answer questions. All is and will remain within code.

Ellen Sahli, Director of Civic Engagement

Ellen stressed three main matters addressed, and resulting actions:

  1. Commitment to Community process. This meant
    Discussions on new uses proposed for buildings-- ACTION- the first meeting meeting on 5757 University (Becker-Friedman former CTS) will be in early March
    Discussions with neighbors on Woodlawn, 55th to 57th-- ACTION- the first meeting took place December 12 2011 and wil continue
  2. Woodlawn Avenue
    The easements to be moved to 5 buildings from west campus are moving along-
    ACTION- in the next few weeks Landmarks Illinois will file (Rich Clauder is the point person.)
  3. Commitments in the PD Amendment (filed, but the city could change [city staff was involved in all the negotiations]
    Revised language on the transition zone historic features to be protected and preserved have been filed and posted
    The new Sub-Area O including its own height limitation
    Additional language linking future plans and site plans to the Woodlawn Avenue Plan
    The Woodlawn Avenue Plan document
    ACTION- The PD-Statement_1-18-12

Kate Dawson, Daley and George LLP

Map was shown and described of new Sub-Area O. It zigzags to include University property and exclude non-University of Chicago.
She stressed the reduced height limitation of 65 feet in all the subarea vs 120 in the Sub-areas from which O is subtracted. (The CTS Tower of course is about 150 feet and grandfathered.)
Language is included referring to the Plan for 5700 block. In the Plan,
1.Definitions are included of the "defining characters" of the buildings and the block.
2.The commitment is stated to "retain and preserve the character-defining originals to greatest extent possible, if not it spells out what is to be done instead.
3.The scope of any work and any preservation is spelled out in guidelines and compliance with the Plan, and subject ot community engagement as well as
4. review by the Landmarks Division of Department of Planning and Development.

Alicia Murasaki

Described what's in the Plan for Woodlawn Avenue 2012-2016:
Intention statement including what is covered in the section for each structure, what happens with the Plan and any plans for individual structures through time, wording about new sub-area O, and Guidelines for treatment of Character-defining Features;
Sandbourne map of the block (standard reference in real estate);
Property-by-property sections. (Muraski described what's in the 5701 section)- these each have:

She stressed that the plan emphasizes keeping the character and historic elements, that many of the data points are what community representatives sought, that they worked hard to respond to ideas, suggestions, and questions, that continuity and perpetuity were incorporated including for the community discussion provisions for everything about Woodlawn Avenue.

Overall investment 55th to 59th excluding Booth - 2000-2011 $43 million, expected 2012-16 $86-96 million.

Ellen Sahli gave the website that includes the new language and will stay up.

Alderman Hairston opened the floor for questions

Roger Huff of the neighbors representatives thanked every party for contributing, noting that they were a broad cross-section. The work was productive and an a good example of working together and creating dialogue. He noted that height turned out to be a serious concern and was addressed and so were memorializing intention and process. Asked if the result is now "A Go," he responded "Yes."

Roger Deschner, representing the fraternity on Woodlawn whose back yard abuts that of the CTS and Nursery Schools and their common alley asked the height of the glass building proposed to join the CTS (Becker-Friedman) entryway to the Nursery School. 37 feet, which seemed to satisfy Deschner as it's the same 3 stories as the fraternity.

Gary Ossewaarde asked the alderman if all city codes related to construction near historic landmarks such as Robie House will be enforced, PD or no. Answer was "Yes."

Ron Thisted, who has a house by McGiffert House (future Seminary Co-op Bookstore) asked that the group of neighbor and university representatives meet to review comments at this meeting and continue to convene. General agreement; the alderman added to review any changes proposed by the city.

The meeting was adjourned shortly after 8 pm.

The Plan for Woodlawn Avenue is partially presented in the page with the revised filing of January 2012.