Wednesday, July 20, 2011

87th State Street- Will We See Turf Wars Or Will They End With This Project

The plans above are for the renovation of the Shell Station located at 87th State Street. The renovation will be a $4 million dollar project. The project will entail the acquisition of the property by the current operator, a new convenience store with a fast food restaurant housed in one building and a car wash.

This proposed acquisition/renovation development was the topic of the Chatham Avalon Park Community Council (CAPCC)subarea meeting last Thursday June 14, 2011 at Chatham Avalon Church of  Christ. The operator, attorney and architect were all present at the meeting and all spoke on the project. Also, former Senator Roland Burris was in attendance. A number of residents voiced their displeasure about the current state of 87th State. Their concerns were loitering, loud music, drug dealing, pan handling, much was directed at the BP station on the South corner of 87th State. It was stated the owner of that station has stated he does not care what the community thinks of his store, he is here to make money period. Also, residents voiced concerns about the density of the project as well as the proposed use of the public way (alley). The station is asking for the right to use a portion of the alley so cars can go into the car wash. CAPCC president Keith Tate voiced the concerns of the organization which were:

  1. Cleanliness
  2. Security
  3. Loitering
  4. Hiring of African American Contractors for the redevelopment work
  5. Establishment of a relationship with an African American Bank
The owner was open to discussing all of CAPCC 's concerns and invited residents to visit his other station at 31st Dan Ryan. A vote was called by the CAPCC vice president and when the question period came up, Senator Burris questioned what the vote was for and what did it really mean? CAPCC executive vice president Maryellen Drake stated that they were voting on whether  CAPCC approved of the project or not and further stated that this was the process that CAPCC has used for the last 50 years. Several residents asked to table the vote and Ms. Drake further explained that time was of the essence and that the Alderman had stated  this could not be a long drawn out process. I asked the question whether CAPCC would sit down with the leadership of The Greater Chatham Alliance (GCA) if there was not a unanimous decision one way or another. I asked the question because the Alderman has stated at several public meetings that he was not going to allow community organizations continue "turf battles" impede economic development in the ward. President Tate stated that there were no plans to meet and Vice President Drake stated that there was question as to whether GCA was a legitimate community organization. The meeting ended with no vote taken with the organization planning to schedule another meeting. I contacted GCA and asked the same question and have not received a response at this time.

I spoke to the Alderman this past Saturday who voiced his displeasure with the outcome of the meeting. He stated he had already had several meetings with this group and was satisfied with the project and wanted to make sure the community was satisfied with all the details. He stated he would be in attendance of the next CAPCC meeting.

So who will make the final decision?

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