A Chicago City Council committee on Tuesday rejected a plan to install a training facility for the Chicago Fire soccer team within the Chicago Housing Authority, sending a controversial proposal for suspension.

The Planning Committee voted 7-5 to reject the revised proposal for a pending investment in the Near West Side. But in a surprising move, the Ald chair. Tom Tunney, 44th, decided to re-assemble the panel on Wednesday morning to hold a second vote. If it passes, it will probably pass through the entire body of the City Council on the same day.

The proposed $ 80 million 24-acre complex would include two hybrid grass pitches and a goalkeeper pitch; underground heating system; sandpit; three synthetic turf pitches, one with an inflatable dome for use six months of the year; an office building with a height of 2 to 3 floors, an auxiliary facility for maintenance and storage and a parking facility for 147 cars.

But the plan met with criticism as it would be built on empty land – restricted to Roosevelt Road, 14th Street, Ashland Avenue, and Loomis Street – which is owned by the Chicago Housing Authority, where the ALBA Homes once housed.

Certain council housing advocates, represented by the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee of Civil Rights, he wrote a letter of objection saying: “In this proposal, the promised land for the desperately needed inexpensive housing to mainly meet the needs of black families will be given to the billionaire with negligible benefit to thousands of families of color willing to live in the Chicago areas.”

On Tuesday, it was revealed that the screams were heard by a group of progressive councilors who helped halt the progress of the plan. Ald. Maria Hadden, 49, said CHA had fallen short of its promise to add more affordable housing.

“Earlier this year, we received a message from a colleague of ours who had been on the CHA waiting list for 30 years and finally received a call,” she said, referring to Ald’s 20th. Jeanette Taylor. “I have a lot of residents in my branch, 75% of tenants here in 49th place who are on the CHA waiting list. We are dealing with a record number of people experiencing homelessness. It just crashes around us. That is why I am concerned to see such lethargy.

Ann McKenzie, a CHA official, said the project would not result in the loss of affordable rental housing, so “our commitment remains the same.”

“The apartment is what we do,” McKenzie said in response to Hadden. “Actually, we welcome this as an opportunity to build a community and have worked incredibly hard with Fire to create something that will push housing. … In fact, we take it as a solution. “

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The city has a larger plan to redevelop the site around ABLA’s former homes into a multi-functional residential and commercial district known as Roosevelt Square. The city would not have to pay Fire anything if the CHA deal went through, but the soccer team would pay off the 40-year lease with two potential 10-year extensions. The rent will depend on the latest estimates.

However, some councilors were concerned that the plan had yet to be approved by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is typically required when housing agency land is used for other purposes. So, even if the project is approved, the federal government can kill him.

Others noted that there was no letter of endorsement from the Local Advisory Council or the Community Advisory Council, although McKenzie replied that “The Local Advisory Council was consulted from the beginning. We’ve been talking to them about it since February about it. “

Ald. Jason Ervin, 28, who chairs most of the area in question, backed the plan because he hopes it “catalyzes development.”

“I believe the concerns raised are warranted given the state of affairs with CHA and what has happened in the last nearly 20 years in this transformation plan,” said Ervin. “… I’m glad Chicago Fire has stepped up (with) … helping CHA deliver on a long-term promise that many people feel has been broken to the ABLA community.”

The Fire, managed by owner and CEO Joe Mansueto, has been actively looking for a new training space since it agreed to pay Bridgeview $ 65.5 million in 2019 to change its lease to SeatGeek Stadium, where the team is still training. In the event of a Near West Side facility being constructed, Chicago Fire matches will not relocate from Soldier Field.

ayin@chicagotribune.com

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