Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Recap of Townhall Meeting on "Park Manor Inn Hotel Development on 76th State

City of Chicago Planning & Development-Dept, Hedgeman Development, African American Hotel Owners Association for Mr. Higginbottom,development architects and attorneys came out originally to Urban Partnership Bank for a meeting with the residents of #Chatham and #Park Manor to discuss a new updated proposal for what they are terming the "Park Manor Inn. Because of a 200+ turnout the meeting had to be moved to St Dorothy Church to accommodate all the residents. Alderman Roderick T. Sawyer was the facilitator of the meeting. 

The developers representative Mr. Price opened the meeting discussing why they wanted to place the Hotel on 76th State and that there were several African American owned hotels in the city which include the Hyde Park Hyatt Regency. My Price was followed by the architect who gave details of the proposal. The hotel that they would like to build is a $10.0 million, 5 story,90 room facility with a fitness and business center, meeting rooms and a full service 100 seat restaurant on the ground level. The architect explained that the building is an all brick building with metal accents and would be in the front of the lot with landscaped parking in the rear. The attorney from Neal & associates stated that the developers need a zoning change from the city council and a special use permit because it is a hotel which is initially approved on the local level. The City of Chicago planning department explained the zoning requirements for the project. Lastly, State Representative Elgie Sims thanked the audience for coming out and being part of the process. 

The floor was opened for questions. The questions went across the spectrum. There were those who believed that there was no demand for the facility and that individuals would not wish to stay there because of some articles and television stories by the traditional media. The developer stated that they felt that hey could successfully attract business clients who travel down the Dan Ryan or attending conventions at McCormick. Also, the question came up about Mr. Hedgeman's owning the Barbara Ann and Sportsman's Motels. Mr Hedgeman stated he has not owned the Barbara Ann and that any illegal activities that went on did not happen while he owed it. He also stated that the Sportsmans is in a state of disrepair because he is waiting on TIF funds to do a complete renovation. Mr. Price stated that there were not pursiung the "nighttime motel" market and the rates that are expected to start at $80-$120 will deter that market. Others asked about African American participation asit relates to construction and operations. Mr. Hedgeman stated he plans to work with African Americans from start to finish but would not be specific about which companies he plans to use. Although the attorney present was not African American it was stated he is an attorney at an African American law firm. There were several individuals with hotel management experience who asked some detailed questions on feasibility and payback period. Mr. Hedgeman would not be specific on these issues. The 6th Ward Republican Organization represented by Mr. Darnell Macklin raised concerns about a community benefit agreement and a firm commitment on African American participation in the construction. Also, there were some who questioned why the hotel was not going to be location of a major hotel chain versus being independent. 

Of course, we could not have a meeting without grandstanders. While the individuals who are vying to be the next Alderman of the 6th ward were present. One felt being a pompous ass, Community, Families, Friends, and Delton "Jerry" Pierce felt that this was a forum to grandstand and announce that he wants to run for alderman. His statement angered many as well as some of the politicians in the room laughed at his buffoonery and disrespect for the audience. Also, some individuals used this as a meeting to talk about other issues in the ward. 

Overall it was a well attended meeting with individuals both pro and con. The presidents of Park Manor Neighbors, Chatham Avalon Park Community Council, Chesterfield Community Council and Greater Chatham Alliance were all present and they and their respective organizations will all have additional meetings and inform Alderman Sawyer whether their organizations feel that the project should move forward or die. 

Additional pictures at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=...

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