From and to the September 2008 Vol. 2 HPKCC Conference Reporter

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Some Features from the 2008 September (Issue 2) Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Conference Reporter

Hyde Park Development

By Gary Ossewaarde

Where is development going in Hyde Park? Ask people who would like to see much redevelopment and it looks stalled. Ask others who want the neighborhood to stay pretty much as is and they see development likely to occur fast and with little overall planning or consideration for what residents want.

A particular widespread concern is that the University has expanded its commercial land purchases and development role—including Harper Court—in addition to fast campus growth. But the University has not to date made or communicated decisions about its directions or whether it will continue and heed findings of community input processes, including meetings and surveys to which so many residents and organizations have committed their time. These processes have been re: 1) the now-suspended Harper Theater and commercial block, reversing a decision announced following a public-input Request for Proposals, that would keep the facades, 2) the RFP guidelines process for Harper Court and the city lot, and 3) the 53rd St. Visioning process. The Conference sent a letter with concerns and preferences to President Zimmer and Alderman Preckwinkle.

Concerns include whether the university will follow the widely expressed desire for development that attracts a wide and neighborhood and university-sought market, serves nightlife revitalization and serves the practical needs of residents and also has structures and layout that is contextual and people friendly and includes open space and right parking, all of which have been sought in TIF vetting and by HPKCC, or whether the University will just put in something else. For now, groups such as the Conference’s Development committee hold to their support for refinement and issuance in late fall of the Harper Court Area RFP and public review of proposals, as well as to continuing the Visioning program. Adding to community anxiety is the perception that the university and its development partner for Doctors Hospital have disregarded interests of neighbors and the community during planning on Stony Island Avenue a much-desired hotel.

Because of these anxieties, the Chamber of Commerce, the Conference and the University are discussing holding a forum in the near future on Hyde Park development, with focus on the University’s role neighborhood-wide. The Conference also wants to ensure that many and ongoing means of community input and planning remain open. Watch for meeting announcements, input opportunities and breaking news, including on and at the TIF meetings (next September 8, 7 pm, at Kenwood Academy).

What else is in play?

Moving most rapidly is Antheus Capital, which has fast-tracked two arresting, progressive projects that for the most part have garnered praise. These developments are condo/residential Solstice on the Park at 56th and Cornell and (rolled out at the July TIF meeting) a mixed-use development at the key gateway site of Village Center on development-ripe Lake Park Ave. at E. Hyde Park Blvd. In these developments Antheus has taken into account community desire for varied affordable and accessible set-aside units, pedestrian friendliness, sustainable and environmentally friendly LEEDS certification, and thoughtful, innovative design by Studio Gang architects.

Antheus Capital seriously negotiated over affordability with such groups as Coalition for Equitable Community Development, providing perpetual affordable rental units in the building north of Solstice (provided the latter is built) and 15% affordable units and 20% accessible scattered seamlessly through the residential parts of Lake Village Center. Antheus has also consulted on ways to make or include senior-friendliness in developments and some of its rental buildings.

Village Center will embrace the street as well as adjacent public transportation, with uses designed to stay open well into the night, including the popular Original House of Pancakes with longer hours, and tuck ample parking inside the development. There is concern over loss of Village Foods or, should the latter not agree to end its lease early, half a development for many years. The TIF Planning and Development Committee was scheduled to hold an open review of the Lake Village proposal Monday, August 18, 6:30 pm at Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell. Remember that all residential developments are contingent upon pre-sale of a certain proportion of units and that building and hence selling or leasing costs are high per unit of space.

L3 Development, LLC, set forward at a public meeting and at the TIF this summer a revised proposal for a approximately 18-story rental housing and retail block at 53rd from the railroad to Cornell Ave. This upscale rental building would house 15% more affordable units and a large continent of accessible units. Design was praised by many. Concerns were expressed about infringement on neighbors and for congestion. Separately Alderman Hairston has held hearings on zoning east Hyde Park between 53rd and 56th for lower buildings so that new proposals for high buildings will have to seek zoning change.
L3 also holds or holds the rights on the sites of Mobil service station and former McDonald’s on 53rd St. west of Kenwood Ave. No definite plans have been revealed.

For Doctors (Illinois Central) Hospital, 5800 S. Stony Island, White Lodging and the University in July held the first public meeting in a year on the hotel redevelopment project announced in 2007. Alderman Hairston had suspended support and discussion of the proposal (requiring zoning change) last winter after strong neighbor and community objection and presentation of an alternate plan by JG Johnson architects, Hyde Park Historical Society and Landmarks Illinois that would have adapted the existing building, rated Orange in the Chicago survey of historic resources. Discussions with the alderman were renewed this summer. At the meeting, no specific plan was presented, and the purpose of this and future meetings was given as hearing community expressions of what development residents want. White Development said the hotel project is marginal for this neighborhood (its first foray into an urban market), gave reasons it did not wish to and did not find economically feasible reusing the present building or having a different size and scale or significantly different architecture. They did say they had now factored in parking concerns and would make studies done public and do the full traffic and environmental studies if the project is approved and goes into design. They agreed to meet with supporters of an alternative. At least one more public meeting would be held by early fall.

Income Diversity and Community Development in Hyde Park:
A Conversation with D. Garth Taylor (Ph.D. ’77)

Joanne E. Howard

Hyde Park has gone through various changes since the 1960s when urban renewal spread like wildfire across cities around the country. In order to get a perspective on how Hyde Park has changed over the years, the Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference interviewed D. Garth Taylor (Ph.D. ’77), President of the Metro Chicago Information Center (MCIC) on his views about Hyde Park, neighborhood institutions as anchors, income diversity, and neighborhood vitality. Dr. Taylor is a national expert on community economic development and his most recent study “Income Diversity and the Context of Community Development” was funded by the MacArthur Foundation.

Q: You came to Hyde Park in 1972 to attend graduate school. Why did you pick The University of Chicago?

I chose the University of Chicago to learn how to be a public opinion pollster. I learned a great deal from working at NORC (National Opinion Research Center) and studying Sociology at the U of C.

Q: Can you relate how Hyde Park has changed over the years?

In the 1960s, Hyde Park implemented an urban renewal plan that resulted in the move-out of low-income renters. This resulted in a major change to the housing stock. Literally, hundreds of rental apartments were demolished to try to stabilize the neighborhood. There was some replacement housing built – most of what you see on 55th street between Lake Park and Woodlawn dates from this era.

When I arrived in Hyde Park there were definite boundaries to the neighborhood. These boundaries have expanded a lot since the 1970s.

Q: You have written extensively on income diversity in Chicago. How does Hyde Park compare with other parts of the city?

During the 1980s, 1990s and up until a couple of years ago the housing market of Chicago seemed to be rising with no top end in sight. But interestingly, the number of low income families in Chicago is about the same as in 1970 and the number of high income families is also about the same. What is mostly happening is that the city is becoming a place where there are fewer and fewer middle income families (say, between $40,000 and $80,000 in today’s dollars) and neighborhoods are rearranging themselves as places where there are: more low income families; more high income families; or both.

Hyde Park is a place where the middle income category is on a rapid decline. There is a big growth in the number of high income families, and recently some small growth in low income families as well – making it a “bimodal” type of community. It’s tough to build a neighborhood around two widely divergent income levels – the tastes for services, retail stores, restaurants, types of food in the groceries vary quite a bit. Some people like the diversity, that becomes an important asset for the community.

Neighborhoods need to be really careful about shifting too much in the high income direction. If the guy who fixes bicycles can’t afford to live in Hyde Park that means that there’s not going to be a bicycle store for several miles and something will be lost to the community.

Q: What do you have to say about the “anchors” in Hyde Park?

The communities that most successfully weathered the challenges of living in Chicago in the 1960s and 1970s are the ones that had major anchor institutions -- major employers that were committed to staying – such as hospitals, and universities. University of Chicago played a huge role in defining and managing the urban renewal era in Hyde Park, and in encouraging new home buyers to move in and improve their property. Now, ironically the role of the anchor institution in gentrifying places is often to assist with more balanced growth – finding ways to support the credit and the housing opportunities for an economically diverse population.

Q: From your broad perspective, what are Hyde Park’s plusses?

Compared to the rest of the city, Hyde Park has a lot of amenities that will always make it a desirable place to be. I would say the most important are:

1. Public education -- Hyde Park has done well in maintaining excellence with its schools
2. Reasonably good linkages to public transportation
3. The lakefront and the parks
4. Good neighbors – a high concentration of interesting people per square mile
5. Diversity – The genome project hasn’t yet located the gene for being stimulated by diversity, but I’ll bet there is one. At some point this will be viewed unambiguously as an asset in Hyde Park.


Bulb and Mum Fair to Feature Bulb Collections and Chrysanthemums

The Annual Fall Bulb and Mum Garden Fair of the Hyde Park Garden Fair Committee will be September 20 at the Hyde Park Shopping Center from 10 AM to 4 PM.

Sometimes, when buying bulbs in the fall for spring flowering, it is hard to decide what colors to use together. After all, it’s not like buying an annual or perennial plant which might have flowers on it already. It takes a lot of imagination to see these brown lopsided balls turn into the incredibly beautiful flowers during the awakening of spring!

The bulbs on sale at the Hyde Park Garden Fair come with a picture of what you can expect, planting and cultivation instruction, the size of the plant, and when to expect it to flower.

This year we are featuring various collections of bulbs, both samplers of different daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, and crocuses as well as collections of different bulbs which will bloom at the same time or under similar conditions.

Some examples include: Butterfly Daffodils Mix which are very showy and charming and Trumpet Daffodil Mix which are a sampler mix of long cupped daffodils; Purple Rain Tulip Mix which are a mixture of purple, white, and purple with white edges flowers and Tequila Sunrise Tulip Mix which include tulips which are bright red, yellow, and red with yellow edges; and Summer Sunset Hyacinth Mix which is a mixture of purple, red violet, lilac, dark blue, and light blue hyacinths and Fat Tuesday Hyacinth Mix which include Dark Blue Violet and Yellow hyacinths.

Specialty Bulb mixtures include a lovely mixture of Muscari of various blues and white.

If you would like to mix different kinds of bulbs but would like them to bloom at the same time, try the Early Spring Delight collection which includes the miniature and adorable yellow daffodil Tete a tete and blue muscari (grape hyacinths) or the Firecracker Mix which teams the lovely yellow and orange Jetfire daffodil with those wonderful blue Scilla siberica.

There are many other collections, combinations and samplers available but as usual we have packs of single types of bulbs which you can combine as you wish. Garden Fair members can also make suggestions if you wish.

This year we are also featuring more of the crocuses and colchicum that are planted immediately after the fair and which will bloom this very fall. We will have Crocus sativus (the saffron crocus) and the blue Crocus cartwrightianus and both pink and white Colchicum.

There are also lots of new bulbs which we have never sold before. I will mention only several. For indoor planting, you may try the beautiful Amazon Lily and Paperwhite Inbal. New Daffodils include Passionale, a charming white flower with a pink trumpet, Smokey Bear, a double flowering narcissus with orange and yellow petals, and Double Campernelle, a sweet smelling daffodil that Thomas Jefferson grew at Montecello. Some of the new tulips are a glorious dark red double late tulip called Double Emblazon and Giant John which is a large red violet beauty. First time Iris Germanica are Mariposa Skies, a white iris with deep blue falls and the delicately colored yellow Harvest Memories.

Many other new bulbs and collections can be purchased at the Fall Garden as well as many old favorites too. We will have perennials, ornamental grasses, ornamental cabbages and kales, and pansies that can be planted in the fall. And, of course, we will have hundreds of the always loved blue, purple and pink asters and many-colored chrysanthemums.

This year, there will be a substantial drop in prices of our bulbs. We have a new supplier of Dutch bulbs which will be of the highest quality.


By Bam Postell

One of the signs of an aging organization is the need to memorialize members who have died, and in the case of the Garden Fair Committee, beloved children of members who have passed away all too soon. Naturally, we wanted to remember our friends by means of living trees, and in centrally located Nichols Park. These trees were dedicated on Sunday, June 1. The children’s tree, a Kousa dogwood, is located in a stone-framed plot facing 55th Street, near Kimbark, and the adults’ tree, an American yellowwood, is located behind it on the far side of the pool.

At the same time we honored the installation of the Mary Milner memorial bench, which is located just north of the Neighborhood Club facing the baseball diamond. This was financed by the Mary’s life companion, Eugenia Fawcett, and the Committee.

A third memorial was the relocation of a group of roses in honor of Ruth Billingsley to the bed fronting the new Park District Field House at the north end of the park.

Those present, Garden Fair members and some family members, toasted the memorials in lemonade as they walked from one to another, reading the names of the children at the Kousa dogwood:

Diana Van Valen
David Scheunemann
Norman Nakama
Darcy Black
Reed Schug
Lily Klinger

And the names of the adult members at the yellowwood:

Sophie Rudin, Richard Kersting, Mollie Salmon, Betty Wagner, Janet Shepherd, Miyo Schug, Maxine Brown, Mary Milner,
Sue Cullen, Tamara Mendis, Cherry Nakama, Kit Klinger, Cynthia Pittman, Ruth Billingsley, Jim Lichon, Larayne Black

We were pleased to find that the Park District, which governs the planting of memorial trees in parks, has broadened its list of choices to include some beautiful and lesser known trees. Cornus kousa, the Kousa Dogwood, is related to our American dogwood, Cornus florida, but is native to Japan, Korea, and China. We chose this tree for its many fine features: smaller size (20 to 30 feet), strong horizontal branching pattern, and bloom time 2 or 3 weeks later than the local dogwood. Kousa’s “flowers” are 4 white, pointed bracts around a green center and when they cover the tree make a starry effect. The bracts often turn pink as they age. Raspberry-like fruits follow in August to October, 1 inch in diameter, very decorative and edible. In addition, the tree turns maroon to scarlet in the fall, and the bark, as the tree ages, exfoliates neatly into patterns of grey, tan, warm brown, and pale green.

Cladastris lutea, American yellowwood, is a member of the pea family which will grow 2 to 3 feet per year into an open-arching, dome-shaped tree, to 50 feet or larger, with a spread almost as wide. It casts a dense shade. The foliage is dark green and dense, and turns clear yellow in autumn. In June, it bears long (to 15”) panicles of fragrant white flowers, followed by flat, thin pods. It has smooth gray bark which is seen best in winter, accenting the dramatic framework of the branches.

Each of these trees is the only example of its kind in the park, and will grow in size and beauty with the years.

View from the Parks

by Gary Ossewaarde

Swimming or drifting at the Point?

The ticketing and surprise harassment of swimmers off Promontory Point, east of 55th Street, raised the ire of residents and Alderman Hairston this summer. Recurrence of the same matter every year led to determination this year to do something about it. Opinion is that for no good reason both people and communities are being disrespected as well as restricted in use of their lakefront. HPKCC wrote a letter to Ald. Hairston thanking her for her efforts to seek a standing solution and asking that this be open rather than some kind of licensed swimming, whether under a lifeguard or “at risk.” We also called for presentation of the resolution at a community meeting. Alderman Hairston, having received slow or no answer from government agencies, requested a public hearing on deep water swimming from the City Council Committee on Parks and Recreation, which we hope will spur resolution that can then be explained to and considered by the community.

Kenwood Community Park

The Kenwood Park Usage Committee, open to anyone in the community, was able with Alderman Preckwinkle (4th) to gain many park improvements from drainage to trash that have languished for years, and the playing fields may be redone in grass in better soil. A schedule to avoid conflicts in team and other park use is being developed that will eventually by kept by the park supervisor and council. A solution to the larger field size and use issue is being worked on in a spirit of cooperation between teams, schools and the advisory council. The council will elect a transition slate September 24, 7 pm at the fieldhouse, 1330 E. 50th St. The Usage Committee meets again Wednesday, September 10, 7 pm, Hyde Park Bank Bldg., 1525 E. 53rd St. fourth floor conference room.


Alderman Hairston holds a monthly 5th Ward Olympics Task Force meeting between residents and agencies 4th Thursdays at Jackson Park field house, 6401 S. Stony Island.
A broad area coalition of organizations including SOUL (Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation) with encouragement from officials including Ald. Preckwinkle are forming a Coalition for Equitable Olympics, one objective being community benefits agreements—for information contact James Withrow at
And the Washington Park Olympics Coalition meets at Washington Park field house, 5531 S. King Drive 1st Saturdays at 9 am.
Several foundations and academic institutions are stepping forward to conduct or fund studies of negative and positive impacts that must be planned for.

Other matters

New park council guidelines are still being refined by a joint committee and the park district. A few key differences remained at this point.

Chicago Park District will hold its annual council recognition party and ceremonies, with performances including by area children, September 6, 11 am, Northerly Island. Please register through your nearest council if you wish to attend.

The Conference Parks Committee would like to see more parks have councils with regularly scheduled meetings and larger neighbor attendance and will plan a networking and planning meeting to facilitate this.

Plan to attend council meetings and help monitor/improve your park and plan special events. Those with regular meetings include:
• Jackson, 2nd Monday (except day after in October), 7:30 pm, 6401 S. Stony I. (Note exception below)
• Nichols, 2nd Thursday, 7 pm, 1355 E. 53rd St.
• Washington, 3rd Wednesday, 7 pm, 5531 S. King Dr.

Jackson Park’s September 8 meeting is superseded by a special community meeting at South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 South Shore Drive called by JPAC and Alderman Hairston to review a proposed dome sports facility proposed to be built at the tennis court southeast of Hays and Cornell drives intersection and run by a private foundation, Athletes for Excellence. JPAC asks that residents come, listen, and help decide if this use is appropriate for this park and location.

Finally, there are many volunteer opportunities and groups in our parks, especially gardens and nature areas. Contacts include George Davis for Burnham Sanctuary at 47th and Metra (generally 1st Saturdays at 9)-, Ross Petersen for Jackson Wooded Island (2nd and 4th Saturdays 10-1)- 773 486-0505, Carol Schneider for Nichols Wildflower Meadow and formal garden (generally 2nd and 4th Sundays after 3), and Madiem Kawa, 773 203-3418 for Washington Park natural areas (3rd Saturdays).


From park to farmer’s market and your table: The Jackson Park Urban Farm, run by Growing Power, is among the suppliers of the Bronzeville Farmer’s Market and fair at 44th and Cottage Grove on Sundays. The HPKCC Sustainable and Environment Committee reminds you of other local markets and that markets and stores are increasingly turning to local and Midwest producers and distributors, reducing energy and chemical use. Farmer’s markets include those at 61st and Blackstone/Dorchester on Saturdays, and the Hyde Park Farmer’s Market in Harper Court on Thursdays.