A historic change -- both symbolic and actual -- in Chicago's approach to public housing was completed in the winter of 2010, as the final families were moved out of the city's infamous Cabrini-Green housing project. Once a model of urban renewal, the high-rise towers just a mile from luxury shopping on Michigan Avenue fell to gang violence and chaos, and for decades were emblematic of public housing problems in Chicago and across the country.
Now, most all of the buildings on the site have been razed. And predictably, the city is looking almost immediately at ways to develop the site, hoping to bring it in step with its far more affluent neighbors in Lincoln Park and the Gold Coast.
As a major step in that direction, the Chicago Housing Authority says it is interested in a proposal that would put a Target retail store at or near the site of the recently demolished projects.
The Chicago Sun-Times spoke with CHA officials, who described the plan in some detail. Target is reportedly proposing a land swap with the city, wherein it would take roughly five acres of CHA land at the Cabrini-Green site for development, in exchange for land of similar value for the CHA to build on.
Matt Aguilar, a CHA spokesman, told the Sun-Times that the company had agreed to hire at least 75 CHA residents at the new store as part of the proposed deal.
Alderman Walter Burnett sounded positive on the deal in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. “I’ll take a Target anywhere in my ward,” he said. “We need some economic development because the economy is bad. There’s nothing happening. This means potential construction jobs and potential permanent jobs.”
Last month, Target announced that it would be putting a smaller urban store in the former home of Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company downtown.