Urban Renewal Timeline-Part I. Urban Renewal home. History and Preservation home.

Urban Renewal Timeline Part II:
Aftershocks mingle with new waves, 1964-present

A service of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and its website www.hydepark.org and Preservation and Development/Zoning task force. Join the Conference: your dues support our work.

 

1964

August 26, Hyde Park Herald editorial calls for a new high school--great controversy ensues (was it racist, elitist, island-creation??)

September 30, Chicago's first condo conversion of an existing building (and by existing renters) happens in Kenwood, 1344 E. 48th. Soon there would be condomania and condophobia.

November 4, arts and nightlife revival (after urban renewal implosion and loss of 2nd City) get a new boost with opening of live theater and dance in Harper Theater.

South campus redevelopment continues with start of construction on School of Social Service Administration (Ludwig Mies van der Rohe) and National Opinion Research Center.

Elm Park north of Kimbark Plaza opens. A team worked on plans with the Park District (mostly the latter), but it was later perceived design errors were made, and maybe the configuration around the park was adverse to its success. Others deny there were fundamental errors. Visit Elm Park and Elm Park Threatened pages.

By this time the Tropical Hut at 57th and Kenwood stood surrounded by rubble.

In this year the Rehabilitation part of Urban Renewal gets started, stimulated in part by the example of replacement structures going up on cleared land. But participation would be meager until the condo conversion period in the 1970s and 80s.

1965

A liberal rival to the Herald, Voices, is launched by arch-liberal David Canter, and lasts several years.

About this time 3-flats on the northwest corner of 58th and Dorchester are torn down to make way for an award-winning compound of houses for UC Divinity School faculty. With rolling land, multiple commons, and freestanding houses set against the grid it is refreshing. Across the street, a three story residence was torn down for parking for the Cloisters across 58th.

August 4, Harper Court opens.

The School of Social Service Administration moves out of overcrowded, about to be renovated (desecrated?) Cobb Hall to a new Ludwig Mies van der Rohe building at 969 E. 60th (on the National Register)--one of several modernist structures opened in that era in South Campus. At this time, the University was still urban renewing south campus with the city but had not yet gotten a law giving the area to the University. At this time, Ford Foundation had given a major grant and even more grandiose promises for future University construction, promises it withdrew at the end of the decade, causing great stress for the university. SSA has continued to be one of the great bridges and resources between the university and the rest of the South Side.

5th Army Headquarters is gone, opening up lots of new moderate upscale space in the Triangle of East Hyde Park.

The romantic George Harding Museum at 48th and Lake Park is torn down for the reconstruction of Lake Park. Part of the site is later developed as a garage for a large double-high rise cooperative. The armor et all (the part not "sold off" by the executor) went to the Art Institute which has oscillated in its commitment to display the items.

November 3, city proposes future Kenwood Academy high school for 5oth and Harper (where some expensive housing had been "renewed" out). A big controversy ensued, with the University on the same side as many liberals, against the school, for different reasons. African Americans and whites were divided, but many saw no choice in light of the wave of violence at Hyde Park High. The planning and successful establishment of Kenwood Academy was a remarkable accomplishment (Sara Spurlark is one of the CPS persons in charge of the planning and physical transition), considering that the area already had Hyde Park High School, a premier institution just a few years before. (In the late 1950s it produced more Ph.Ds than any school in the U.S.) The debate revolved around whether to make Hyde Park High School into a huge complex modeled on Evanston Township High School (the UC/SECC position) or to build a new and separate school in order to keep the environment small. Many assumed the new school would be mostly white, which was not in fact the case. The ultimate public debate, which took place in the basement of Sts. Peter and Paul Episcopal Church, involved practically the whole community with great differences of opinion and motivation.

1966

January, Alderman Despres renewed his fight for an open housing ordinance (Dr. King was in Chicago and Hyde Park the previous summer.) The next year, HPKCC would honor Gov. Otto Kerner for his efforts on behalf of open housing.

About this time spot renewal combined with desire to create land reserve for Ray School leads to removal of businesses and some fine residences on the north side of 57th and northward on Kenwood. Long lamented was the Tropical Hut, a student favorite.

The University of Chicago 's central contiguous property is bundled into Planned Development 43, which eases its ability to settle uses and speed changes and new buildings for its land without direct regard to older underlying zoning. The document provides different rules and coverage and floor-area density ratios for a number of different zones. Over the years, the document will be amended several times. (See University Master Plans and PD 43 page.)

Dr. King appoints Jesse Jackson to set up Operation Breadbasket.

Edward Palmer was director of HPKCC at this time.

June 15, old Stagg Field is now ready for demolition.

Lutheran School of Theology quadrangle is built north of the 55th berm between University and Greenwood.

August 3, the big Dr. King march through white southwest side occurs, with involvement or dismay by many Hyde Parkers.

September 7, Eero Saarinen presents plan for Kenwood Academy.

1967

April 12, the American Institute of Architects gave honor and awards to George Fred and William Keck for their houses at 5812 Blackstone (Seminary Walk, built for Chicago Theological Seminary faculty) and to Ezra Garden for 23 new homes at 52nd and Kenwood, northwest of Kimbark Plaza.

July 4th raid on bongo drummers at Point. July 12, 6 bongo players (allegedly harassing folks and noise bothering high rise dwellers) are arrested on the Point; drummers go on an allegedly racial rampage smashing windows along 55th Street. Tensions accelerate in this period of gang marches and incidents. July 19 the Park District set aside a place for drummers on the east end of the Point.

October 7, 2 teens are shot in a gang dispute at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club. Would the fruits of the urban renewal and the "interracial community" survive the pressure from surrounding neighborhoods in the pre-abandonment, urban riots days? Would redevelopers of the many remaining cleared parcels in Hyde Park be scared away?

HPKCC still maintaining widespread programs--including (started earlier) demonstration housing, committees on schools, appearance of the community, parks, recreation, jobs for teens, youth recreation and services, tenant/landlord relations, school volunteers, safety-rights-justice, women's rights, medical care, air and water pollution. September 6, 1967, Laura Fermi spoke to a women's group on air pollution and the environment.

December 13, ground broken for Kenwood Academy.

Group led by Ron Grzywinski buys Hyde Park Bank. RG is committed to community reinvestment. There exists a federal savings and loan set up by locals - a major leader was Earl Dickerson- to lend to Hyde Parkers. Increasing willingness of banks to lend locally (esp. after passage of Community Reinvestment Act in 1977) gradually marginalizes the S & L, which later closes.

1968

January 3, Alderman Despres shot in robbery attempt. 13-y-o assailant arrested January 13.

April, Hyde Park and Woodlawn don't burn like the West Side. Many credit deals with Woodlawn gangs. Fear remains.

A roundtable is held by Rev. Brazier, Julian Levi, Jack Meltzer, narrated by Kenneth Northcott. Read.

The Democratic National Convention is accompanied by militancy and violence in various parts of the city. Many Hyde Parkers and UC students are involved.

September 11, Teenage gang members try to crash a party at a church.

A classy modern tower, the Stein Bldg. or Dorchester Apartments is built between the older elegant Cloisters at 58th and International House, in an effort to keep UC faculty in Hyde Park.

The Conference was in considerable debt and decline at this time.

1969

A proposal is made, more than 30 years before its time, to make old Kenwood Elementary (north of current Kenwood Academy), later Wirth, now Canter school a middle school. It would become 1-8.

September 9, Kenwood Academy opens with many local students.

As the decade ends, there is still much vacant land, there is a mini and short-lived wave of high-rise construction (with growing resistance in high-density, low-parking areas), and the condo conversion freight train is gathering steam.

HPKCC, with Kai Nebel Chair and Donald Clapp Exec. Director, was doing the following: gathered info through a community goals/concerns task force-Most desired: community safety, quality education, better race relations, youth services, low-income housing, and completion of urban renewal.
Safety: "Rights and Justice" program including "facts not rumor" media and mass distribution supplement. Conference staff to field incident reporting. Noted crime down 22% in 1968.
New schools committee formed under Dr. Sid Kraus. CPS financial crisis to top agenda, 2nd bringing resources to local schools. (Does anything change?)
Race: Annual mtg had forum on "The Black Revolution-Implications for an Integrated Community." Setting up dialogue meetings. Working with KOCO on 47th Pl. rehab of substandard housing; a black-community organizer is hired.
Youth services--report on new facilities coming
Protesting setting up Antiballistic missiles near metro areas
Urban Renewal- Richard Wexler, chair, working with the CCC and DUR on recommendations for finishing Urban Renewal. Spec., recommending demo of Alport Bldg 53rd/ Harper and seeking a redevelopment plan for 53rd............. Pushing for low and moderate scattered site housing in conj with CHA.
Air and Water Pollution--reporting violators and publicizing citizenship
Parks--vigilant on Jackson Park, any efforts to further degrade. More sculptures commissioned for parks.

1970

February 25, 22 Kenwood students are arrested during a sit-in, delivering a black manifesto to the administration.

June 10, Police raid Point bongo drummers violently (Herald says).

December 30, ribbon-cutting for the new Ray School playground.

Neighborhood population (HP and K) is now closer to 40,000 rather than 70,000 two decades earlier.

HPKCC and others fight off a proposal for a gas station at 55th and Cornell-reemerges and is defeated again in 1973 under Conference mobilization.

At this time HPKCC was recovering rapidly from a much declined, conflicted period and emerging from debt. David Truitt attempted to bring new constituencies into leadership positions and make the organization more accessible.

1971

HPKCC organizes first annual Wooded Island Festival, beginning of a turnaround in the large parks.

Rev. Jesse Jackson establishes Operation PUSH. Early located at Shiloh Baptist on Dorchester, it later purchases a former temple (KAM or Isaiah Israel) at 930 E. 50th St., where it has remained since (merged weitht he National Rainbow Coalition in 1996).

At this time the HPKCC budget was about $96,000- in 1973 it would be twice as large. President was David Truitt. HPKCC was moving into a service organization phase with many new programs. See 1973, 1975, 1976 for description of this peak active era.

 1972

January 19. An injunction against Hyde Park News Service stands citing operation in a residential zone (drugs are recollected also to have been involved) shows length to which neighbors, SECC go to ensure neighborhood quality.

Operation Push holds its first "Black Expo."

February 23. Project WhistleSTOP comes to Hyde Park thanks to Hyde Park Bank and HPKCC. Program was brought from California by Ross Lathrop. There had been an earlier version. HPKCC and the U of C Police would separately revive the program again in the late 1980s.

May: the YMCA on 53rd experiences increasing trouble as both its clientele and support base in the neighborhood have experienced reduction in population and the neighborhood overcrowding that is one of the reasons for such facilities. This Y is also increasingly considered an attractant for gangs, drugs, loitering, sex, and gambling. It's later closure will leave a gaping hole in community services and facilities that will not be filled.

October 18. With artist Zeno's dedication of a mural on the south wall of the 55th St. underpass, the mural movement, born on the South Side, explodes, leading to controversy and discussion about HP's connections to surrounding neighborhoods and whether urban renewal has made it too drab. Some find the murals threatening and think it means gang takeover. See Metra Underpasses and Murals page.

 1973

September 5, a committee is formed on parking (as such will be again and again) in the Lake Village 51st to 47th Lake Park area. Despite urban renewal's reduction of population, commercial and structural density area wide, there were local concentrations of both commercial mall and high-rise residential structures with parking either in front or in unsightly garages--and insufficient as we went to 1 1/2 and 2 cars per family. And while the 55th traffic fix seemed to work (at expense of creating a speedway), the new Lake Park was often clogged, especially in the afternoon when it was a bypass for Lake Shore Drive commuters. The high rises on Lake Park had been planned for, but their achievement was a product of feeling that Hyde Park had turned around, existence of pension slosh funds, and the condo/coop craze, through which developers could recover their money upfront and residents or "investors" could expect big increases in value even well above the growing inflation of the time. HP and K were becoming attractants (although plenty of cleared land would long remain vacant) while surrounding neighborhoods were emptying. Many HP and Kenwood residents, however, were very hostile to nearby public housing, which was perceived as getting worse and worse and a haven for growing gang and drug activity.

Doug Anderson, at suggestion of Ald. Despres, starts several times a week bird walks in Jackson Park, partly to recapture parks from criminals and gangs.

HPKCC income was in the $218,000 range, little of which was from grants. Total for 1972 as $180,000, twice that of the year before. Budget items: basic prog incl. salaries $68,o00, WhistleSTOP, cluster classroom, child care task force, operation identification, health care task force, careers for teens, tenant community action center, recycling center, operation burglarFree, alternative schools task force, Wooded Island Festival-25 programs and staff. This is the year the Community Development Corporation was rolled out--maybe too soon and one cause of the Conference's later collapse?

HPKCC Safety programs are credited in part for a significant drop in crime. Local banks helped sponsor these programs.
Work of the Tenant Action Committee under Arvis Averette was successful in getting major improvements done in buildings, blocked emptying of a large building in the 5300 block of Dorchester, won a case allowing tenants to sue in housing court, and disseminated much tenant information.
The Condos Committee won a change in unit classification (to single-family) that saves owners a bundle in taxes, also developed lists of tradesmen, held seminars and forums.
Careers for Teens put many to work or at least promoted skills-but OEO funding died.
Women's Committee/Sex Roles Committee held rap groups and made job referrals.
Celebrations included the Wooded Island Festival, Spring Benefit, Garden Fair, and the school-year long Fantasy Fair.

Issues the HPKCC fought on: restoration of IC schedule by ICC (won)--important to neighborhood viability, compromises on Osteopathic expansion,
stopping conversion of the Madison Park Hotel into a shelter (community meeting led by George Custer).
Helping organize around parking issues with new high-rises at 47th and Lake Park,
defeating plan for a gas station at 55th and Cornell.

Nearby, a group led by Hyde Parker Ron Grzywinski forms ShoreBank and buys South Shore Bank to start reversing redlining with reinvestment; its activities will help inspire the Community Reinvestment Act (and later programs of Gov. then President Clinton). Ref. UC prof. Richard Taub, Community Capitalism.

 1974

As further feeling of the above and that things were getting better in Hyde Park, May 15 McCormick Theological Seminary announces move to Hyde Park. Financial difficulties from inflation, expansion, and drying up of government and foundation money lead to retrenchment of the University, HPKCC, social service providers, even SECC. Urban Renewal as Hyde Park had it would have been totally out of the picture-impossible by the '7os. Refinements were still being made to the plan, including public pressure to add deleterious structures such as the Alport.

Nevertheless, in this period the U of C continues to stabilize the community by buying properties that are becoming problems, are in danger of falling to "bad" purchasers, are historic, or can be used for off-site student housing. Among the notable are the historic hotels Windermere (later spun off for refurbishing as rental residential (increasingly rare)) and Shoreland, used as a major dormitory for nearly 30 years. Complaints are made that in many instances the University did not kept up its properties well, or put them to good use (by economic or by community-building definitions). It continues to hold the jewel of urban renewal, the Hyde Park Shopping Center and owns/controls much of Kimbark Plaza.

October 28, in a survey Hyde Parkers still cite deteriorating housing as the area's biggest problem. See next year.

Quality of life issues loom large. December 11, Sonja Gilkey, Marcella Gewirth and others mobilize against high-sodium lights seen as deleterious to trees--and stop city crews. At the other end of the spectrum, HPKCC sponsored a Discover Hyde Park business coupon book. See 1976 for range of activities.

 1975

In February a runoff for alderman is forced between Al Raby (become head of HPKCC) and Ross Lathrop (headed HPKCC Safety Committee-introduced WhistleStop) to replace retiring Leon Despres. The machine candidate backed by Marshall Korshak came in a poor third. In April Lathrop wins, but will be ousted in 1979 by Larry Bloom supported by IVI.

April 23, in a landmark court case, structure at 53rd and University, full of code violations and having been sued by neighbors, is ordered torn down by Talman Federal Savings, mortgage holder.

July 16, the renovated Hyde Park Theater (south of Hyde Park Bank) reopened.

HPKCC is highly active on issues and institutions, including schools and parks (this is before local school councils, Friends of the Parks, "settlement" of discrimination against south side parks, and formation of park advisory councils.) HPKCC produces another in its more than two decade series of guides to area schools. It runs a recreational swimming program also.

September 28, HPKCC holds 4th annual Wooded Island Festival. The Island at this time is named Paul H. Douglas Nature Sanctuary, part of efforts to turn parks around and free them from gangs.
October, the HPKCC Environmental Committee learns that the Park District "hid" $268,709.68 from the Army Corps for post-NIKE base restoration in Promontory and Jackson parks. Presidents in the early 1970s included David Truitt, in the mid 70s Mary Houghton, Al Raby.

November 12, U of C turns down a recreation committee (of what?) request for a 300,000 loan for a recreation center at 47th and (Kimbark- prob. east of Woodlawn) on long-vacant (16 years) Urban Renewal land ("the canyon" ) torn down). See 1977, a big tennis club would be built--which failed financially. Bally's is there now. Demand for a recreation center for youth in the area has a long history.

1976 According to a Conference brochure, here is what HPKCC was doing in 1976: Block Club Task Force, HPKCC Community Development Corp (affiliate) technical assistance and business recruitment, environment-parks committee fought super-highwaying the Drive through the park, proposed an EPA center in the area and protested park neglect esp. Jackson. Housing continued code enforcement, surveyed housing stock and preferences, and supported Chicago open housing ordinances and US Housing and Development Act. Condos and Coops association was active and held an Energy Conservation Fair. Schools was active, holding open houses in schools, publishing a directory to schools, taking positions such as on drop out rate, impact of magnet schools, speech therapy, desegregation and "continuous progress program." Transportation sued over lack of hearings on big fare increases and gains included many more buses on the Jeffery and a Culture Bus. WhistleStop was at a peak, so was BurglarFREE and Safe Homes. There was a big turnout at the Wooded Island Festival. The Conference was still in the YMCA, since about 1970 under David Truitt. Presidents since included Mary Houghton and Al Raby.
 1977

A big issue this year was future of the Rosenwald mansion.

May 18, the alderman introduces an ordinance dealing with piercing car alarms--that was a real problem at night for a while.

June 19, The Resource Center introduces free recycling pickup.

July 6, Schools sends white teachers to Kenwood Academy under an integration plan.

July 20, community meeting supports a plan for a $3.5 million tennis club on 47th from Woodlawn to Kenwood. Currently Bally's.

Community Reinvestment Act passed. Hyde Parker Ron Grzywinski of South Shore Bank is only banker to testify in Congress in favor!

 1978

Local officials protest uneven (not south side) deployment of snow equipment for blizzards.

April 26, Largest condo conversion to then in Hyde Park history-University Apartments--the one built in the middle of 55th for displaced renters. 550 units. This is the crescendo of the condo craze. HPKCC executive committee meets with developers at the 71% sold stage, most concern is about closure of pedestrian access through the complex.

May 10, Beat representative Ann Fennessy (with HPKCC?) convenes a large meeting to get owners to clean up after their dogs.

By this year the Biltmore (Alport) building at 53rd and Harper has been demolished. August 9, the lot is placed on the market for an unheard of $7.75 per square foot. It would stay vacant until the early 1990s, then house only a one-story retail structure (including since for several years now the Starbucks, replacing a Benetton run by GSB students).

Win Kennedy, KRM realtor and owner of Parker Holsman real estate manager, buys Deco Arts building at Lake Park and 55th, one of the few structures spared on 55th by urban renewal.

May 24 the Herald reports on demand for housing and wave of condo conversions. July 19, it reported, however, that about 17,000 units or 75% of multi-unit housing in Hyde Park was still rental--versus the Sun-Times, whose reported 70% created a near-panic. (The 1980 census confirmed the Herald's estimate, still a change over a decade in condos from 15 to 25%. Renters in large buildings like the Newport and University unsuccessfully fight conversion. Housing costs were then rising twice as fast as rents, accelerating the incentives for landlords to convert or sell to developers. (In surrounding neighborhoods that did not have a strong condo market and where renters were leaving substandard high rent buildings and the area for more distant opportunities, the solution for many landlords was abandonment or arson, which led to huge vacant tracts punctuated by gang and drug houses.)

August 30, HPKCC holds an overflow crowd meeting for forum on "Rentals vs Condos." Most are pessimistic about the future of rental housing in Hyde Park.

 1979

March 21, the Hyde Park Historic District (mostly southeast HP) is entered on the National Registry. (City historic districts with real rules and protection are formed in Kenwood and North Kenwood. The U of C will block occasional efforts for a city designation in Hyde Park.) the (South) Kenwood District is also formed and placed under administration of the Kenwood Open House Committee.

April 25, UC makes commitment to renew its Hospitals.

July 4, report on parking by HP Business and Prof. Assn: no easy or cheap fix.

Transit connections: IC lost much business in fare restructuring. Jeffery express incrementally added service, including evening and weekend.

 1980

August-September, the YMCA shuts down (see 1972). After reuse seems unlikely, demands are strong for tearing it down. A long fight ensues over redevelopment.

Somewhere in this time frame one of the long-unredeveloped parcels, 55th Street from Metra to Cornell, became DARE persons with disabilities housing--a great success. The Conservation Council was highly proactive in this effort; Rebecca Janowitz kept the project going--it wasn't easy collecting funding and working with developers. Nearby, space left by spot clearing had been almost single-handedly developed into a demonstration park, eventually adopted by the Park District as Cornell Playlot.

Julian Levi leaves SECC and UC.

 1981

Regents Park, an "ill-conceived and constructed" high-rise of the '60s at East End an 51st that was fast become a slum in the midst of upscale East Hyde Park, is bought from HUD by Bruce Clinton, who begins a long and ultimately successful effort to turn it around-- and leave it rental. HUD fights Clinton until another Clinton gets in the White House and intervenes.

January 28, parents meet over growing gang influence at Kenwood Academy.

February 11, UC ("more with less" Pres. Hanna Gray) says the UC can do nothing but retrench and cannot help with South Side planning. U of C spent over $100 million pre inflation to reshape the neighborhood in the '50s and '60s.

1980 census data show that HPK populations had stabilized (dropped only slightly) but that whites were no longer a majority in the combined community. A closer look shows that the majority of blocks remain segregated, with this only breaking down substantially in the 2000 census.

The Hyde Park Co-op is in a period of financial difficulties, recurring off-and-on until after 2000. (Last good year until 1985.)

 1982

May 26, "Park 227" is rededicated as John Fountain Nichols Park. (The Egg (Bird of Peace by Cosmo Campoli, given to the HPKCC sculpture committee in the 1960s at substantial discount) ) had been recovered after theft and vandalism the previous year but not restored until 1983.)

Infill of long-vacant urban renewal land is picking up. At Dorchester and 57th, the University yields to community pressure via the Community Conservation Council to reduce the number of townhouses from 23 to 21 and make the architecture conform to that of the area. Across the street is a dorm for McCormick Seminary. At the site of the old Artists Colony at 57th and Stony (long a community garden as was the Dorchester site) by this date has a national African-American sorority headquarters (Alpha Kappa Alpha) on one side and will soon have a UC dormitory on the other.

On the other hand, soaring interest rates, souring of real estate, and market over saturation are leading to a temporary condo bust, with some units losing half their value.

 1983

March 23, repairs start on Cosmo Campoli's "Bird of Peace/Guarding the Nest" in Nichols Park.

May 6, the Harper (renamed Hyde Park) Theater closes. Reopens in mid 1985 with multiple screens (and problems since it's about the only remaining theater on the South Side). It will soon be the focus of ongoing protest, including by a new church-based anti-crime group ISAIAH.

July, demolition of the Hyde Park Y (closed 1980) finally underway.

 1984

April 18, HPKCC holds a celebration of its 35th anniversary.

The University of Chicago buys Hyde Park Shopping Center at 55th and Lake Park, becoming the Co-Op's landlord and beginning a slow increase in its retail control presence in the neighborhood.

 1985

July, neighbors ask for a basketball court in vagrant-prone Elm Park.

In this timeframe a fight ensues over redevelopment of the Y property and cleared land across 53rd. Housing, parking, or a shopping mall; if a mall parking in front or not. The developer chosen proposed a mall with parking in front. The CCC jockeyed to maximize parking and rejected the developer's proposal to build stores across 53rd. That land was sold to U of C for a private parking lot for its nearby troubled buildings-turned-into-dorms.

 1986 May, Black student groups protest alleged harassment by U of C police, an ongoing complaint.
 1987

April 1. Residents fail to get a dry-precinct referendum on the ballot dry up Perry's Drugs in the new Dorchester Commons shopping center, built on the site of the Y after a big fight, including over its placement of parking in the front. Through the years, voting dry passes in most instances.

HPKCC Schools Committee produces the last in its long series of guides to area schools, in conjunction with the Hyde Park Development Corporation.

July 15, a report in the Herald shows that retail space is tight. No new retail areas will developed for many years.

 1988

February, demolition starts on one of the last bones of contention from urban renewal days, the Shore Drive Motel (where Morton's Steak House had moved but that had become by the hour and criminal-owned. The UC bought it up, tore it down. When the Episcopal Home had to close, it decided to build a modern assisted care and retirement home on this site. Naturally, neighbors fought over size, density, parking etc.--and were again in 2004 when expansion plans were announced.

Complaints continue over the theater- a fourth screen is opened by M & R--too may teen-oriented flicks was the complaint.

News that the school board may release land near Murray school leads to a storm over Nichols Park expansion vs stores vs other uses. The CCC and Plan Commission (and SECC and the Chamber of Commerce) will support stores. By the early 90s, Ald. Evans switches to the park alternative. Future Ald. Preckwinkle will develop her Hyde Park base partly from strong support for Nichols expansion, as well as consideration to neighbors parking needs.

April, plans for the 47th/Lake Park shopping center are rejected by the Plan Commission.

August 24, HPKCC revives WhistleSTOP.

August 31, local groups oppose proposal for an amusement park at 47th and the lake.

 1989

Hyde Park as a place for filming (and set novels in) continues with a Gene Hackman film.

Medici moves from west to central 57th St. Ensuing are 1) a quarrel with neighbors who don't want a deck etc, owner's quarrels with the landlord--the University, which has a long history of either feuding with business tenants--over minutia when not over high rent--or shooting itself in the foot with tenant-location mismatches. Later, there will be a more serious fight when it seems the University will bring in a McDonald's where the bank branch is (old O'Gara's Books). HPKCC organized an informal local referendum which said "No" McDonald's, and carried the day.

Hyde Park schools prepare to roll out Local School Councils under a reform act. Overall this has worked in this neighborhood, despite some distracting brawls.

Abandoned George Williams College, 900 block north of 53rd is demolished making land across from Kozminski School available for redevelopment.

 1990

 Fill-in is in full swing with over 100 homes under construction in February. This includes 50 at 54th and Ingleside. Major construction has or will in coming years occur on every vacant space in East Hyde Park. 47th will be progressively redeveloped, mostly with housing. Hyde Park will soon pass from a hangover of cleared land to built-up and tight. By the middle nineties, infill is under way in Woodlawn and North Kenwood, as well as upscale rehabbing in South Kenwood, relieving pressures. Increasing the pressure are clearance for UC Hospitals expansion via clearance of good owner and rental buildings and University purchase of small troubled buildings for student apartments. A few tear-down-build-outs start to occur in Hyde Park.

About this time a developer sought a high-rise and condos on a site between Kenwood, Wirth School, a garage for a condo high-rise, and Blackstone Branch Library. After a protracted fight, the Conservation Council and residents who came up with the money were instrumental in getting the land for Kenwood for its athletic track and field. An ongoing policy of the CCC was to facilitate the transfer of unused properties to adjacent neighbors, such was done with remaining vacant lots of the site, on Blackstone Ave. behind the Blackstone Library.

November 12, tension over teen attendees, incidents and R-crime and thriller movies at Hyde Park (Harper) Theater heats up at public meeting.

1990 census will reveal the bottoming of abandonment of neighborhoods south and north 1980-1990: 4th Ward losing another 25%, 5th 14%. Hyde Park-Kenwood lost marginally if at all and racial ratios were stable and about equal between the races with Asian and Mexican making up the not-insignificant remainder.

 1991

Starbucks comes to Hyde Park's 53rd-Harper. Krochs' and Brentano's bookstore follows.

October, Montgomery Place opens at 5550 South Shore Drive, replacing vacant eyesore Shore Motel and Morton's. The University had snatched the property from reputed crime syndicate elements.

High reassessments anger Hyde Parkers.

December 15. On land vacant since urban renewal clearance in the 60s, Kenwood Gateway townhouses start construction on 48th between Dorchester and Lake Park. This being nearly the last developable urban renewal cleared parcel south of 47th, there will be no reason to seek extension of the Community Conservation Council on its 40th date in 1998.

 1992

June 24, Mayor Daley makes a studiously cryptic comment on aldermanic opposition to his no-loitering ordinance (aimed at gang control): "in those areas like Hyde Park and Kenwood that want the loitering, the police are not going to make any arrests."

Blood runs hot over critical coverage of Kenwood Academy, entering a critical period.

Hyde Park-Kenwood Development Corporation hosts a home-owners, home-buyers fair.

 1993

Ad hoc Committee for 53rd Street is in existence, led by Nancy Stanek. Joins HPKCC. Stages first 4th on 53rd Parade.
Story of the Parade and how it illustrates how Hyde Parkers work together is in the Story of the 4th on 53rd page.

A disagreement between local aldermen over SECC's (and Ad Hoc's?) proposed ordinance to ban street peddling.

Branch banking and invasion of downtown banks into the South Side starts as laws change including requirements for community investing.

September 1, no bidders for bankrupt Ramada Inn 49th and LS Drive.

 1994

CAPS alternative policing beat councils formed in March.

April 20, 1700 E. 56th, a 34 story tower, goes condo--largest since and first large conversion since 1978 --sends shudder of fear through renters but does not presage an acceleration, just time-to-time progressive "condoization".

June 15, 4 of 6 Harper Court chess tables get moved to Nichols Park. Both the Court and Nichols have increasing problems with homeless, often drinking and doing drugs, drug sellers, Kenwood students especially at lunchtime (banned from some restaurants on 53rd). Elm and Spruce Parks also have such problems. The chess tables are graffitied. Some go back to Harper.

SECC launches "Say No to Panhandlers", later will launch Cleansweep and Hanging Baskets.

November 16, 47th Hyde Park Athletic Club voted dry; in a few years (with no Choices restaurant?) it folds.
Woolworth's closes on 53rd.

 1995

January, New restaurants open in Harper Court.

March, Ray School starts new addition.

June 7. Proposal to rezone alley behind Kinko's on 57th for more stores (including possibly a McDonald's is rejected by neighbors. HPKCC holds a referendum.

June 21, RFP issued for a grocery-anchored center on the long-vacant 47th-Lake Park site.

June 28, Krochs' chain goes bankrupt (the local store had been successful). Hollywood Video moves in.

 1996

Hyde Park Co-op signs lease for the future 47th Shopping Center.

September 18, redevelopment of the Osteopathic site (vacant since 1988) starts. This will be one of the largest developments in the neighborhood since the 60s if not 50s, especially with announcement of the next phase, 300 units, April, 1998. There will be complaints about demolition and construction debris.

 1997

May 7, Ad hoc Committee 53rd St. holds meeting on 53rd St. diagonal parking. The Committee will soon dissolve, some say over a proposal for a Special Assessment District with a board the alderman could not be sure of controlling.

Old Hojo Inn goes to new houses and parking for nearby high rise dwellers.

A series of gang shootings erupts in Hyde Park.

August, groundbreaking for 47th Shopping Center (Lake Pointe). The center will become a cause celebre of Kenwood Oakland Community Organization for allegedly not providing enough construction and permanent jobs to local minority workers. Construction finally starts September 1998 and the center opens October, 1999--with more dispute over hirings.

November, the long fiasco over redevelopment of St. Stephens Church on Blackstone begins.

 1998

 UC Hospitals starts moves to buy out adjacent residents for new facilities.

June, Akiba Schechter Day School and Rodfei Zedek announce plans for a new, expanded campus at 5200 Cornell/Hyde Park.

June, Murray addition gets nod from B of E, Park District will soon join for a new gym after negotiations to buy the Neighborhood Club, then the Tennis Club on 47th (bought by Bally's) fail.

July, plans announced to reorganize and expand Hyde Park Shopping Center, eliminating problems from the original design and taking advantage of the closure of Woolworth's.

August, U of C master plan of construction unveiled.

October, squabble starts over plan to develop the lot at 48th and Cornell.

October, city seeks domain over problem stores at 47th and Greenwood. They would eventually become sites for Muntu Dance Studio and Little Black Pearl Workshop (still being built). This will virtually complete the transformation of the 47th St. canyon (downsized from commercial) 40 some years after planning starts for urban renewal.

December 2, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conservation Council holds its last meeting, marking formal end to urban renewal.

December 16, with implosion of 4 vacant public housing high rises, transformation of the area to the north, including redevelopment of large tracts of vacant land and rehabilitation of existing housing is presaged. Vice President Gore had already visited the new housing on Oakenwald.

 1999

Opening of Americash loan store on 53rd is decried as a step in the wrong direction.

February, Jimmy Wilson (Woodlawn Tap) dies. In the coming months, the community (and University) will come together as seldom before to fight for a license for the new owners (appeal granted March, 2o00).

May, large teen dances are stopped at Neighborhood Club when complaints develop.

June, Metra stations reconstruction plans fill in another gap not addressed by Urban Renewal. Getting all the stations open takes to mid-2004--and nothing is being done with that at 59th.

Parks begin framework planning with community groups for Burnham, Jackson, Midway, and Washington Parks. (U of C will invest much in Midway and some in Washington.) Planning raises awareness, leads to several good ideas, and reveals differences of opinion or objective.

CDOT's South Lake Shore Drive Study Group meetings lead, with aldermanic support, to substantial adjustments and additions to the project.

October, CHA 10-year transformation plan announced. The demolitions without much replacement housing will flood some areas, but not much in HPK except the north and west edge.

City conducts study on the commercial districts, circulation and parking. Will lead to conclusion to set up a TIF.

 2000 I-House closure proposed, Drs. Hospital real closure (in limbo), closure of House of Tiki and the whole block eventually, as well as Women's Workout World and World Gym cause consternation.
 2001

January, University opens its large garage at 55th and Ellis, it makes little dent in the problem.

Congregation Rodfei Zedek, Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School, and Jewish Community Centers embark upon an ambitious reconstructed and expanded joint campus at 52o0 S. Hyde Park Blvd.

January 31, 53rd TIF approved. A parking garage on 53rd is a main objective as is creating conditions for new development (commercial valuation is lagging residential)

April Mobil-McDonald site 53rd St. proposal for 8-story development is introduced. Eventually the developer walks away after the community and alderman ask changes he won't accept. Two years later the McDonald's (troubled by youth) closes and builds a drive-in on Lake Park. The 53rd site remains in limbo.

Canter Middle School proposal in process.

A steady, dramatic year-by-year drop in crime commences, with certain dramatic reversals.

UC and UCH: perceived lack of minority contractors, workers protested, new proactive programs initiated. President Randel speaks at Operation Push.

2002 

January, Border's Books announced for 53rd and Lake Park; BP Connect to replace defunct Shell Station at 52nd Lake Park (Shell having been displaced there by Urban Renewal 30 years ago.

March, Meadville Seminary proposes to tear down historic houses in Woodlawn streetscape for expansion. U C and SECC write letter advising against after big public meetings. Plans in limbo. Some consider revising historic district proposal.

April, Hyde Park Theater closes. June 19, University of Chicago buys it and the Herald Building, along with leasehold on Women's Workout World former space.

April 24, Controversy over Harper Court removal of chess tables.

Controversy develops over construction/new facility plans for Meadville-Lombard Seminary at 57th and Woodlawn. This area starts to experience "build-out" growing pains raising fear for survival of the historic Woodlawn streetscape. The University over the next year will successfully purchase and adapt McCormick Seminary at 56th and Woodlawn while returning two McCormick houses to the residential market. McCormick builds a new school on the north side of the Lutheran School, completing that school's quadrangle at 54th Pl. and University.

Anderson's Hardware, one of the original Kimbark Plaza founders, closes when 2nd owner retires.

 2003

 CVS to tear down, replace Anderson's Hardware and Tony's sports in Kimbark Plaza.

Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference holds public forums on zoning reform, the future of 53rd Street, and condo-co-ops governance issues.

A struggle and controversy over enticing the Checkerboard blues Lounge to Hyde Park is intimated by convergence of interest of musical scholar/UC President Don Randel, the UC Community Affairs division and an association to Restore Jazz to Hyde Park.

U of C considering future of Herald and Harper Theater buildings it bought and is to bring Checkerboard blues lounge and a theme restaurant to Harper Court. Redevelopment of the Theater complex and the Mobil-McDonald's site are considered crucial to develop incremental tax revenue to back bonds for a parking garage at 53rd and Lake Park.

Behind the scenes Harper Court Foundation starts negotiations to sell the shopping center.

2004-06

In April,2004 the University holds a conference on urban renewal and community future, widely attended by South Side activist organizations and Hyde Park and University persons. Remarkable is President Randel's statement that the University had acted out of a moat mentality and a made mistakes during Urban Renewal. He delineated how the University today is engaged throughout the South Side. He called South Side redevelopment and community building the "mother of all interdisciplinary problems."

In 2004, the SECC, still largely an arm of the University but with sizeable board participation from the active and wealthier part of the community has the following focuses: Facilitating the TIF council and working with the Chamber of Commerce and University on business corridor revitalization and recruitment of varied businesses; monitoring and encouraging development; revitalization of infrastructure such as Lake Park Avenue and the Metra viaducts and embankments and parking; building code enforcement; policing and public safety; engagement with government such as on the issue of Promontory Point and other involvement in school and parks issues.

August, A Hyde Parker points out in the Herald that our streets are strewn with litter (which has been a common complaint since before urban renewal).

There is an uproar over steep increases in assessments. Locals and their legislators join the successful move to pass a state cap.

The University sells the Shoreland at 54th and South Shore. Complaints are made that the redevelopment will not be high scale enough, with too many one-bedroom. It does have apparently adequate parking and will involve partial restoration. Some are concerned about shifting of so many students out of Hyde Park.

The University announces its South Campus infill (near and longer term). Some old sores are rubbed open, but the plans appear good, sensitive and forward looking and the UC is doing much for Woodlawn.

The University and Hospital start removing more of the old South West Hyde Park--the block south of 57th at Drexel and indicate plans to remove residences on the east side of Drexel in the 5600 block.

Chicago passes the first comprehensive zoning code legislation since 1957, with long mapping about to start (mostly grandfathering here in short term); there is little initial public involvement here except HPKCC forums in 2003.

The city moves toward passage of life/safety retrofit (probably excluding residential but requiring 2-way comm. and inspection), porch and other building safety legislation. Mandated facade repair continues to burden buildings.

On Lake Park, a new BP Connect and drive- through McDonald's are completed, very attractive. The east side of Kimbark Plaza is torn down for a new CVS Pharmacy. Parking complaints continue high.

Homeless etc. in parks remains a problem.

Catholic Theological Union announces plans for a grand new building at its growing 54th and Cornell campus, the later praised as a community stabilizer.

The big news was announcement of closure of the 47th St. Co-op store at the start of 2005.

The big news at the end of 2005 is the sale of Harper Court and the demise of its original mission to harbor needed or interesting small businesses and art shops.

Late 2006 saw plan to redevelop the Harper Theater properties as shops (with facade preservation of the shop part) and not a theater despite petitions and harkening back to the 60s glory days. The plan fell through in spring 2008 as UC fired developer. Harper Court's future remained uncertain (see 2007-11). The neighborhood seesawed between growing business vacancies and development plans, condo conversion continued then collapsed and sparked concerns for affordability and affordable housing, and the former Eagle pub--a hq for many radical and other political groups in the 60s-8os--was threatened with demolition. HPKCC's forum on the future of the Co-op highlighted that venerable institution's problems as neighbors disagreed over the continued usefulness of a co-op business structure.

 

 2007-2011

During this period the vision began to emerge to revitalize the 53rd-Lake Park business district-- called by some "Second Urban Renewal." This consisted of the following:

By the end of this era, Harper Theater and Herald building was in full swing of adaptive renovation. The facade was restored and the interior was being readied for Five Guys Burger and Fries and shops and for New 400 Theaters "5-screen" (likely a mix of art house, live, and meeting or conference space). This followed an engineering reconnaissance funded by HPKCC, Southside Preservation Action Fund, HP Historical Society that helped convince the University to proceed with adaptive reuse.

Harper Court was sold mid-period to the University of Chicago, which made an arrangement with the city to bundle Harper Court with the city lot into a new mixed use planned development. There was much public input via collaborative Vision Exercises; TIF meetings and reviews; HPKCC workshops, public meetings, survey, and position papers, and public input into an RFP process. Vermilion Development and spinoff Harper Court Partners proceeded to plan and submit plans for input toward start of construction in late 2011. After some agony, the TIF agreed to contribute $23.4 million over the life of the TIF (2023) and nearly taking up all the available funds. Meantime Harper Court was emptied and partially cleared-- with difficulty for the businesses in finding affordable local spaces-- even those who had help from U of C. A common complaint is that retail rents remain very high despite recession, perhaps exacerbated by large ready buyers such as U of C and MAC Properties. UC subsidy was the lynchpin of this project going forward.
The new Harper Court will have a UC office building with fitness across from the bank, a very wide street with retail-restaurant, public arena, hotel and residential, a Hyatt Hotel, parking, rental buildings and a possibly condo tower at the northeast end. Harper Avenue will be opened to traffic. Two phases area envisioned. Park 52 restaurant and possibly Checkerboard Lounge just north of Harper Court were expected to be later incorporated into the new Harper Court. Not all questions such as parking and handling of construction inconvenience and other neighbors' needs were answered by mid 2011.

Also for the TIF, area vision exercises were held about the rest of 53rd and Lake Park and part of 51st, including the partially empty McMobil site, Dorchester Commons, and Kimbark Plaza. (These were cited as aging- mainly the latter, suburban - parking in front, parking problems, low rise deleterious land use. The rest of 53rd retail was under scrutiny (with a new restaurant slated for a problem-renting building in the 1400 block). And the block on 53rd and Cornell was cleared by a developer for a condo-then-rental tower of "transit oriented development," then when the company tanked MAC bought it for "temporary parking" for its renters, particularly in the East View and Del Prado, which MAC was renovating for high-end rental.

Also in the TIF is Village Center. MAC/Antheus was developing plans to move forward with a new shopping center with two residential towers at Hyde Park Blvd. and Lake Park, including small retail along Harper.
A big loss was Borders, which had been among the first new construction, bringing in revenue to the TIF. But even that was being leased out with a new skin promised by U of C.

Of other big development, a condo tower plan at 56th and Cornell was on hold while restoration/renovation of the Shoreland from dorm to high end rental was moving forward after protracted negotiation with neighbors over parking and other matters. The University put out for RFQ an public input a mixed development along mid 53rd St. (former McMobil).

The other big development news was University of Chicago expansion, including the big fight over former Doctors Hospital, which will not have a hotel on the site but a Lab School Early Learning Center. Also, Chicago Theological Seminary conversion was highly controversial, and its purchase by UC along with Meadville School property raised alarm over managing UC change and expansion, with some calling for a landmark district of this historic section. The U of C announced it no longer makes master plans, but in 2011 was seeking more annexations and changes to its main Planned Development 43. Major, dense construction continued between Ellis and Cottage Grove and (less dense) infill in South Campus with some attempt to create bridges to Woodlawn, for example with the gigantic Logan Center for Creative and Performing Arts and (less engaging to the south) the giant South Dorm at Ellis that replaces the Shoreland as dorm.

And University of Chicago increasing dominance of ownership and management elsewhere in the neighborhood. UC also started buying land west of Washington Park, with no plans revealed.

For more, see University Master Plan and Planned Development 43, South Campus Plan, Development Hot Topics, Development navigator, Business Climate, Harper Court, Harper Theater, 53rd Street, TIF News, Reporters on development such as August 2010 and June 2011 and as linked from these.

A growing concern was about affordability-- middle and lower middle class people being able to continue to live in Hyde Park. Working on these included a new Coalition for Equitable Community Development (which grew out of faith social justice committees and several large community meetings starting in 2007) and Older Women's League.