• Erin Hegarty
    SEP 21, 2022

    Zoning committee will ‘reconsider’ Chicago Fire soccer facility proposal after aldermen initially block its passage

    Proposal for the Chicago Fire soccer facility [City of Chicago]

    The City Council’s zoning committee on Tuesday blocked a controversial proposal for a Chicago Fire soccer facility on the former site of public housing, but the committee will reconvene Wednesday morning to “reconsider” the proposal, Ald. Tom Tunney (44), who chairs the committee, said Tuesday.

    The council Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards voted 5-7 during Tuesday’s committee meeting on plans for the soccer facility proposed on land formerly home to the Chicago Housing Authority’s ABLA Homes in the 25th and 28th Wards. But in a rare move, Tunney decided not to adjourn the meeting, but to recess and come back before Wednesday’s 10 a.m. council meeting to take another vote on the matter. 

    Chicago City Council’s Rules of Order cites that a vote can be reconsidered “at any time during the same meeting, or at the first regular meeting held thereafter” but the motion to reconsider “must be made by a member who voted on the prevailing side of the question to be reconsidered, unless otherwise provided by law.” 

    If a motion to reconsider is made and doesn’t pass, the motion cannot be renewed and a motion to reconsider cannot be reconsidered, according to the rules of order. 

    The plan (O2022-1838) to build a training facility for the Chicago Fire Football Club on 24.2 acres of property owned by the Chicago Housing Authority and the Chicago Fire was approved by the Chicago Plan Commission last week. The property is bounded by Roosevelt Road, Ashland Avenue, 15th Street and Loomis Street in the 28th Ward.  

    Related: Plan Commission approves plans for Chicago Fire soccer training facility, officials promise housing units won’t be compromised  

    The training facility proposal includes a two-story, 51,500-square-foot office building and 142 vehicle parking spaces. The facility would also include five full-sized soccer pitches, one partial-sized soccer pitch and a temporary inflatable dome for cold weather months. 

    But the proposal has proven controversial as it is proposed for a site where thousands of families were forced to move from after being promised they would be offered new housing and a community to come back to, ProPublica reported in June. But not even one-third of the promised housing units have been built. 

    City officials last week assured members of the plan commission that the required housing wouldn’t be compromised. 

    Chicago Department of Housing Comm. Marisa Novara addressed the "misperception" that the facility "would result in less housing than had been committed." 

    The public and affordable residential units committed in the larger Roosevelt Square development in the area are not changing, Novara confirmed. 

    Novara added that officials had never contemplated using the entire area for only housing. 

    "Thriving communities" include more uses than just housing, Novara added. 

    But Ald. Maria Hadden (49) during Tuesday’s committee meeting noted that the Chicago Housing Authority is "well and far behind its goals of creating affordable housing it destroyed years ago." 

    Hadden asked how the proposed Chicago Fire facility would affect the housing authority’s obligation to build the housing in the planned development area. 

    Lisa Misher, assistant corporation counsel for the city’s Department of Law, said that while approval of ordinance would open the door for the development, it wouldn’t be able to move forward until the proposed use of the land is approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). 

    "Nothing can happen on this property without HUD approval so although this will be providing planned development approval, that doesn’t allow anything to move forward until the CHA & HUD are in agreement that the land is being used in a proper way,” Misher said. 

    Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25), whose ward includes a portion of the proposed development, questioned how the housing authority plans to build all of its required units in a timely manner and said she is concerned "with the due process, making sure that we don't rush into things.” 

    Ald. Jason Ervin (28), whose ward also includes part of the proposal, said one of the most important components of the development is ensuring CHA residents and community residents are satisfied. 

    "Everyone is in a good space with this," he said. 

    Aldermen who voted against the proposal were: Ald. Pat Dowell (3), Ald. Anthony Beale (9), Ald. David Moore (17), Ald. Mike Rodriguez (22), Sigcho-Lopez, Ald. Felix Cardona (31) and Hadden.  

    Aldermen who voted in favor were: Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30), Ald. Walter Burnett (27), Ald. Scott Waguespack (32), Ald. Carrie Austin (34) and Ald. Tom Tunney (44).  

    The zoning committee approved all other items included in The Daily Line’s preview of the meeting. 

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