Local First Chicago on Division/Ashland development

July 25, 2011

Dear Alderman Moreno:

Local First Chicago is a network of locally owned, independent businesses and community organizations joined together to keep jobs, money and character in the neighborhoods of the Chicagoland area. As part of our support for locally owned businesses, we advocate for development that encourages economically and environmentally sustainable neighborhoods.

Local First Chicago has been involved in the 1st Ward through the SSA #33 Long Term Planning and Guide Development Committees and more recently as a member of your 1st Ward Business Development Task Force.

We understand that the former Pizza Hut property at Ashland & Division has been purchased and the developer is preparing plans. This property is unique as it is at the crossroad for multiple public transit lines and serves as the “gateway” to an intensely local retail district – Division Street.

The award winning WPB Master Plan was very clear in recommending that the entire Milwaukee/ Division/ Ashland intersection should be zoned for high density transit oriented development. The Master Plan was the result of intense community and business input and we would encourage you to use it as a guideline for all discussions with potential developers. Specifically for the Ashland and Division site, any plan should include a multistory, mixed use building.

In addition, we would also like to encourage you to act on another significant recommendation in the WBP Master Plan as you work with the developers of this site – protect local businesses and discourage global retailers. In many development scenarios, the community will work with a developer to create a Community Benefit Agreement (CBA) that ensures the development meets certain outcomes that the community feels are important. We would urge you to negotiate a CBA that requires that the developer reserve at least 50% of the retail space for locally owned, independent businesses.

This development provides a rare opportunity to protect and enhance an amazing local district and the WPB Master Plan has a clear vision for how to accomplish that.

Sincerely,

Suzanne Keers
Co-Founder & Executive Director
Local First Chicago NFP

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