ten-year-old Plan For Transformation: redeveloping Lathrop Homes with a mix of market-rate, affordable, and public housing.">

Debating the Future of Lathrop Homes

Next month the Chicago Housing Authority will announce which applicants will get the nod to do the next piece of its ten-year-old Plan For Transformation: redeveloping Lathrop Homes with a mix of market-rate, affordable, and public housing.

Next month the Chicago Housing Authority will announce which applicants will get the nod to do the next piece of its ten-year-old Plan For Transformation: redeveloping Lathrop Homes with a mix of market-rate, affordable, and public housing.

But a coalition of tenant groups, preservationists, and neighborhood activists maintains that Lathrop, at Damen Avenue and Diversey Parkway, should get little or no market-rate housing. Instead, the coalition says, Lathrop can be better knitted into its surrounding community by putting amenities on its grassy, 32-acre riverfront campus that would attract affluent neighbors and make the site a community anchor.

“We’re surrounded by new market-rate housing [developments], and there are still units for sale in most of them,” says Scott Shaffer, a co-chair of Lathrop Homes Alumni Chicago. “Now is not a good time to put market-rate in, because there’s nobody buying it.” But there is a need for affordable rental housing: the Chicago Rehab Network found that from 2000 to 2007, the seven surrounding neighborhoods lost 34,000 rental units, mostly to condo conversion, says Kevin Jackson, CRN’s executive director.

While the CHA’s plan calls for 800 to 1,200 units of housing on the site, with a third of them devoted to public housing, the coalition wants “a commitment to preserve Lathrop as 100 percent affordable and public housing,” says John McDermott, an executive of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association; it also wants the development “kept on the human scale that Lathrop Homes was built on,” McDermott adds.

One of Chicago’s oldest public housing projects, Lathrop “is where public housing was done right,” says Jim Peters, the head of Landmarks Illinois, an ally in the coalition’s efforts. Click through the slide show below to see how Lathrop’s history and setting might be maximized in innovative ways.

Photo gallery



4 years ago
Posted by affluent neighbor

I'm one of "affluent neighbors".

“Now is not a good time to put market-rate in, because there’s nobody buying it.” - and there be even less buyers if lathrop stays as is, unfortunately.

4 years ago
Posted by Dennis Rodkin

By 'as is,' do you mean its present boarded-up, largely empty state, AN? Because I don't think there's anybody at Lathrop or at CHA who wants that condition to persist. Virtually everyone agrees that Lathrop needs vast improvement, but the question is whether to do so by building a lot of new structures (and possibly taking down some of the extant buildings), or if improvement can be made with the building stock that is there. L

4 years ago
Posted by affluent neighbor

By "as is" i did not mean the buildings but people. Trying to walk there I met animosity and "what are you doing here?" questions. It's quite segregated community, and it'll stay this way if only public units are there. Making it 1/3 1/3 1/3 may help.
I'm waiting for May decision - if Lathrop stays public and opens 600 more units - for me personally it'll mean losing big money and inability to sell my condo for a long time (who knows how much 250K condo will be after such news? 150k, 100k? )

As for architectural part: I like how building are located, however they are quite old and have small low-ceiling rooms, so simple remodeling will not make modern houses of them.

4 years ago
Posted by for the residents

I am working with the neighborhood groups to preserve Lathrop. We are also confronted as to why we are there. It's not be segregated, residents are worried that developers are scouting the land. I see plenty of neighbors not from Lathrop walking their dogs on the property. Your $250K condo has depreciated because of the economy as well, not just because of Lathrop.

Think about it, you bought a condo next to a housing development for $250K why wouldn't someone else. CHA's plan for transformation is misguided.

CHA should transform the tenants through a much tighter screening process. Just because you're poor doesn't make you a bad neighbor.

With the way the economy is, Public and Affordable housing is greatly needed. Lathrop was built for this reason, and it worked. As you well know Lathrop Homes and Hamlin park are the only places in the neighborhood with ample green grassy areas.

New construction would turn Lathrop into whats surrounding it.
A Tight neighborhood of parking spaces, and driveways with town homes piled on top of each other with a 4'x5' balcony so 2 people can enjoy the concrete landscape. Maybe thats why you might have a hard time selling your condo.

4 years ago
Posted by Sunshine13

Have driven by many times and wondered when the city would pounce,especially as the surronding nneighbohoods were gentrified.
If CHA is useing low occapancy as one of the reason to do this it is only because it hasn't kept it up or placed families there.
It is a beautiful piece of land and i could think of ways to remodel some of the buildings, and add communty friendly space,
so I'm sure any professionals the city has available could be up to the task.
We need more affordable rental units, and public houseing not more condo and townhouses at 250K or more.
The site should be preserved for use as as a model people friendly affordalbe houseing and not as a way to make this city less diverse and another cookie cutter space.

4 years ago
Posted by affluent neighbor

"for the residents", when buying I was assured by real-estate agents that lathrop public housing is closing :)
Anyway, I agree with you about preserving the landscape. It would be bad if they just use all land for houses.

4 years ago
Posted by tbm

I lived on the north side my entire life and recall the poor state of these units back in the 70s when the development was known on the atreet as the Diversey Projects. Demolition talk has raged forever and should have been done during the early years of the decade. Don't build new public housing units on the site as it will not benefit the neighborhood.

4 years ago
Posted by gentrifyer

tear 'em down. this is not the neighborhood for 'mixed' housing. people pay high property taxes to live in safe communities, with the absence - and yes this is true - of much of the rif raf and deadbeats that wander around lathrop. c'mon, you see them too. this stretch of clyborn needs positive development - shops and restaurants. no one with a 10 foot pole will begin this until lathrop is history. my 2

4 years ago
Posted by Neighbor

I understand the need for historical landmarking and preservation but the entire area is a dump right now. If you drive through the development you will see dozens of boarded up windows and doors, graffiti everywhere and people lurking around. Every night you see at least one or two police cars stopped talking to someone or usually a group of residents. What is historical about that? Why should that be preserved? If it was a well maintained and respected housing facility then I could definitely see the need to "preserve." But the truth of the matter is there is not much to preserve. You can barely drive on Clybourn Avenue near the Diversey stoplight without running your car into someone just running across the street without even checking to see if you are coming right towards them. The time has come. Tear them down. Yes there are lots of unsold condo units in the neighborhood, guess what...there are hundreds of unsold condo units in the Gold Coast, Lincoln Park and any other high-end metropolitan area across the country!! The poor economy is no reason to not tear these down and begin building market rate units so that this neighborhood can flourish and achieve it's maximum possibility. Until Lathrop is gone, business owners will not want to bring their business here. We need them to!! Give me the sledgehammer!!

4 years ago
Posted by Potential buyer

I'm about to rent a condo right across the street from these "historical" homes, and I have two kids and a wife who I care about very much, and I would love for these homes to be destroyed, move the people out of there........I would feel much safer if there weren't as many crackheads running all over the neighborhood.....

4 years ago
Posted by kostyan

It's end of summer already and no update yet :(

4 years ago
Posted by oldlady

From 1952 to 1958, I lived @ 2813 N. Leavitt. Is this building part of all the contraversy going on? While I had a very happy childhood there, I do realize things change drastically in 50 plus years. I have always wanted to come back to the neighborhood for a visit, but now I'm wandering if it would be safe. I have live in MO. for 45 years and have not been back to the old neighborhood since. Should I just leave my happy memories intact?
From oldlady

3 years ago
Posted by renata

Neighbor & affluent neighbor,
i hope you chose your screen name
"tongue in cheek".

3 years ago
Posted by Citizen Taxpayer

Lathrop Homes Total Salaries & Maintenance Expenses (CHA Report)

2008: $1,667,292.00
2009: $1,731,613.00
2010: $3,255,055.00
2011 (projected): $1,753,746.00

What happened to "Making Tough Choices"; "Tough Cuts in Public Spending"???

Chicago homeowners are facing a 2% tax increase, a bankrupt state and city economy, recession worse than the great depression, while a less than 20% occupied public housing project (177 residents out of 925 units) gets up to $3 million in maintenance expenses???

This is an outrage and an abuse of taxpayer money!!

3 years ago
Posted by Interesting

May I suggest anyone interested in this issue, post a comment on CHA's Facebook or Twitter page. I know for a fact that they will respond if you have any questions.

3 years ago
Posted by Dog walking neighbor

Why not turn it in to a large riverfront park? I see they are putting up a fence all around the property, so someone has something in mind for it, do we know what it is?

1 year ago
Posted by BourbonJW47

I think the city/county/CHA needs to redevelop the exsisting buildings. That does not mean turning these into "Luxury rentals" but restoring the buildings and updating their interiors for affordable workforce housing. The screening process needs to be strict, all tenants must be employed, no criminal history, decent credit and meet income guidlines. Some units should be set aside for elderly or handicapped persons. No welfare Mom's or people with 10 kids. put in Max occupany rules on on site 24/7 management and security and maintenance. Then the community would work, you get rid of the thugs and you provide honest working and working poor people a decent place to live. A small police sub station could also be built on the property, perhaps a daycare center and computer lab, work with local churches to attract volunteers to be community watch members. It could be a great place to live.

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