Reverend Tony Bianchi, pastor of the Bethel Mennonite church, and Derric Price, president of the African American Community Trust, feel betrayed by Mayor Lightfoot after the City Council voted 37-11 to lease 26 acres of CHA land to billionaire Joe Mansueto for a pro soccer field.
This was land that Bianchi said was promised to his coalition that had presented a plan to CHA years ago to build much needed affordable housing. The deal with Mansueto was a shocker for Bianchi and Price who said they are talking to a lawyer and may sue to stop the deal.
When the issue came before the City Council Zoning Committee, Alderman Jeanette Taylor (20th) said, “CHA has a responsibility to not only come to the council but to do something different. They have not done what they’re supposed to do.”
On Tuesday, September 20, the ordinance failed by a vote of 7-5, but the next day Alderman Timmy Knudsen (43rd), who chairs the Zoning Committee, took a second vote and it passed followed by a full City Council vote of 37-11.
The aldermen bowed to the wishes of Alderman Jason Ervin who heads the 28th Ward. It was a classic and traditional act of aldermanic privilege.
Ervin supported the $80 million training facility for the Chicago Fire soccer club saying the land swap deal has the support of the residents and that it would bring benefits to the community.
Not all residents agreed with Ervin.
Bianchi feels betrayed because his group has been working a long time on acquiring the HUD land that used to house thousands of CHA’s ABLA residents.
The land has been vacant for at least two decades even though CHA’s Transformation Plan had promised to rebuild about 2,300 public housing units but never did.
On Sunday, September 25, Price, a consultant to Bianchi’s coalition, appeared on WVON and said they were going to meet with a lawyer to see if they can sue CHA.
The agency’s broken promise to build affordable housing and opting instead to turn the land over to a pro soccer team is a slap in their face.
“We were the ones who presented the plans to CHA to develop the land for housing,” said Bianchi. “They did something to offer this to the Chicago Fire. They didn’t even tell us about this deal.”
The mayor and CHA went full speed ahead with their plans and will submit an application to HUD for its approval since the land is owned by HUD.
That is why Bianchi’s group is contemplating suing the city of Chicago including CHA, to stop the deal. They don’t see how CHA and the city can lease HUD-owned land to a billionaire when CHA had promised to build mixed housing for the displaced ABLA residents