Several days ago there was a tragic accident at 11 E. 79th Street http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-concrete-beam-kills-worker-at-south-side-construction-site-20111116,0,7308729.story. A construction worker on a demolition site was killed when a beam fell on him. We extend our condolences to the family.
I called the Alderman's office to inquire what was going to be built on the site, they stated the church was ordered to tear down the building and there were no immediate plans to build anything but the church was interested in working with the community to bring in businesses that would compliment the community. This is a departure from the arrogant stance Carter Temple CME Church and their leadership took several years ago.
This was the second building on this corner that was demolished. The 7900 S State building on the corner was torn down several years ago. The building contained a liquor store and other stores on the ground level. Carter Temple led a group to have the have the liquor license revoked. Subsequently the church purchased the building with the intent to rehab but had internal disputes and ran afoul with the city. Also, an apartment building to the south was torn down because it was designated a public nuisance.
The last time I checked the church was $400,000 plus in the hole on this project. They had come up with a plan to build a seniors building but were being urged to sell by members who had stayed after this project collapsed. The church will argue that they community and former Alderman Lyle interfered with them completing this project because she would not release a demolition lien against the project. She was asked by the community not to release the lien because there was no solid plan and financing in place at that time.
It is unfortunate because the Alderman worked very hard to get Starbucks interested in the site before the building was demolished and after the church indicated that they did not want Starbucks CAPCC indicated they wanted to open a coffee shop/convenience store but members of the church who made up the committee overseeing the building indicated they were not interested
The church and the community got the short end on this because of a small group of greedy church members. The building could have been rehab as an experienced developer attempted to purchase the building but refused to get into a bidding war against the church. Also, the church never had the necessary financing to complete a project and they brought in experienced urban planning and development personnel only to alienate them.
Why is this corner important? The corner of 79th State has over 10,000 people on foot pass there everyday transferring from buses to trains. Other than several gas stations and a fast food restaurant, the intersection brings in very little tax revenue for the city and no jobs for the community. This intersection could be the spark needed to ignite 6th ward Alderman Roderick Sawyer's transit based economy plan. The 6th ward is home to 4 of the busiest stops on the Chicago Transit Authority's (CTA) Red Line El route. While busy with pedestrians with the exception of 87th street the other stops lack any businesses that consumers need. After Alderman Sawyer was elected and discussed his plan. CTA commissioner Forest Claypool dismissed it as unexecutable.
Alderman Sawyer was disturbed about the comment and vowed he would prove Claypool wrong.
Hopefully, when it comes time for developing the site the church will not renege and we can finally look at a building versus a large dirty lot at a major intersection. Frankly, I smell some coffee and sandwiches on that corner. what would you like to see?