Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Big plans for Pullman

This was alluded to in a video that I posted yesterday from Crain's I had to see if I can find a write-up:

Billionaire banker Michael Kelly is picking up where utopian visionary George Pullman left off.

The non-profit development arm of Mr. Kelly's flagship Park National Bank has acquired the former Ryerson Inc. steel plant on the Far South Side with plans for a retail-residential development that would revitalize an area the hardnosed industrialist founded as a workers' village in 1881.

The 170-acre Ryerson site at 720 E. 111th St. abuts Park National's 10-story office building along the Bishop Ford Freeway and the landmark Pullman District, where many of the buildings from Mr. Pullman's quixotic experiment still stand.

Crain's has learned that Mr. Kelly envisions a development with up to 1,000 single-family homes in keeping with the adjacent Pullman District's architecture, as well as big-box stores. Development on such a scale hasn't been seen on the South Side since the postwar era, and the project could transform a largely dormant industrial area into a new neighborhood.

About one-third of the site, which stretches north to about 103rd Street between the Bishop Ford and a railroad line just east of Langley Avenue, likely would be dedicated to a new community center or a park, with the rest split between residential and retail developments, a person familiar with the proposal says.

The price tag for such a development could exceed $100 million. But before Kellyville can become a reality, a tough road, filled with the obstacles of a slowing economy, a harsh housing market and retailers that are retrenching rather than expanding, lies ahead.

Another challenge will be reconciling Mr. Kelly's vision with that of local leaders. Alderman Anthony Beale (9th) prefers a smaller development of about 200 homes with prices between $350,000 and $500,000, well above the 2007 median price of $124,500 in Pullman, according to the Chicago Assn. of Realtors.

"We are going to build a suburban community within the city," says Mr. Beale, whose ward includes the Ryerson site. "We're looking at curved (streets), a gated community, the attached three-car garage."

I hope that any future redevelopment will be good for the surrounding area especially especially Roseland to the west.

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