Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Crain's: Will Pullman see better times soon? UPDATED

This has often been discussed in the past year or so. It seems to be a topic of discussion for the Roseland Heights Community Association and that organization transitions to be part of the newly drawn 9th Ward.

This two-paragraph article from Crain's mainly mentions the hope that the Pullman neighborhood will become a national park. The expected benefits is of course economical with the expectation of tourism and jobs.

With this article is also a slideshow with scenes of Pullman today and some of the past.

UPDATE 11:36 PM: Crain's has a more extensive write-up of the national park story. US Senators Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin and Congresswoman Robin Kelly are planning to introduce a bill in the US Congress to make Pullman a national park. Please be advised that Crain's may require you to register in order to read the article but I will provide an excerpt:
Getting national park status will not be easy, Mr. Durbin says, though the National Park Service has concluded Pullman is nationally significant in that it explicates industrial, labor and African-American history in ways not represented at other national park sites.

“One of the largest obstacles is coming up with enough money to consider this opportunity when we are currently hard-pressed to pay for our existing historic sites,” Mr. Durbin says.

And then there's politics. “I'm not going to say politics haven't been involved in the creation of national parks,” he says.

“The general consensus is the park needs to happen before (President Barack Obama) leaves office,” says David Doig, president of Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, a nonprofit community development group that is active in Pullman. “Pullman is the area where he did his community organizing. We're hopeful we can convince him that the park will be part of his legacy.”

Adding to the complexity: Pullman is an urban neighborhood, and the historic sites there are both privately and publically owned.

What would a Pullman National Park be like? Would the park service finish restoring and reconstructing missing and blighted buildings?

Not likely. “The National Park Service is not interested in swooping in and taking over a whole neighborhood,” says Eleanor Gorski, director of the city's Department of Landmarks and Historic Preservation. “They prefer to operate as a partner with the city and the existing neighborhood groups.” Mr. Doig says the national park's role may be confined to “a visitor center and maybe a park supervisor or ranger on site.”

The most likely location for a visitor's center is the long- vacant factory and administration complex in the center of the district. The complex—and the nearby Hotel Florence—are owned by the state of Illinois. Over the past 20 years, the state has spent about $20 million stabilizing and restoring the two properties without being able to find new uses for them.

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