When the South Loop gets promised something like a park, it’s important that the promise is kept. And tonight, neighborhood activists, park lovers and those on the right side of what’s right aim to have their way at a neighborhood meeting called for the purpose.
A few years ago when the Roosevelt Connection was built on the north side of Roosevelt just west of Clark–a multi-use condo complex with a great movie theater, and plenty of room for not yet installed stores and restaurants–somewhere along the line a park was promised to the neighborhood in the back of the building. So far, no park.
What really ticks the neighborhood off is that in place of the park, the developers want to build a new outpost for the north side British School, and a soccer field for that school alongside it. The park, they say, that will fulfill the promise to the ‘hood for a park is going to be built on top of the British School, accessed by staircases at the base of the school. The neighborhood is furious.
Here’s the thing, though. The front of the Roosevelt Collection faces the Roosevelt Road bridge, which happens to be level with the proposed park on top of the school, as is the movie theater, and the residents of the complex–and the shoppers and eaters who will one day pepper the stores and restaurants. There is even a currently operating cocktail lounge and a proposed restaurant that will be on that level, as well, once the school and park are built. In fact, anyone who approaches the complex from Roosevelt Road will be on the same level as the park.
The buildings in back of the Roosevelt Collection are currently a couple of levels down from Roosevelt. Ergo, when residents and visitors approach the park from that direction when it’s built, they will have to climb the stairs or go all the way around the block to Roosevelt–and backtrack throught the complex to get in the park.
The way I see things, this is not only a fight between neighborhood stalwarts and the Roosevelt Collection developers, it could end up being a fight between neighbors who approach the complex from different directions: those approaching from the north at sea level, so to speak, and those who approach from the south on the bridge.