Chicago City Council reverses vote, backs Chicago Fire FC facility on housing authority land

BySarah Schulte and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team via WLS logo
Thursday, September 22, 2022
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The $80 million, 24-acre facility for the Chicago Fire would be on the site of the former ABLA homes on the Near West Side.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago City Council reversed an earlier vote and voted to approve a proposal to build a training facility for a soccer team on land owned by the housing authority despite objections.

It's a huge piece of vacant land on the Near West Side that is owned by the Chicago Housing Authority and was the ormer site ABLA homes. The plan is to fill it with a 24-acre, $80 million complex for the Chicago Fire soccer team.

However, some housing advocates on city council believe the land should remain in the hands of the CHA and should be used to build affordable housing.

"Myself sat on a CHA waitlist for 29 years," said Alderwoman Jennette Taylor, 20th Ward. "I have a kid that is 29 years old. And so, what if I waited? Would me and my children be homeless? Would I have somewhere to stay? So CHA has a responsibility."

But the majority of council said the proposed project is a good deal. The complex will sit in Ald. Jason Ervin's ward. He strongly supports it, as do others who say West Side residents could use a new development that will bring jobs.

"This is a gift for this community, gift for the taking. A gift for people who are desperate for more opportunities like they see on the North Side," said Alderman James Cappleman, 46th Ward.

"It's the residents that want this; the residents that live there, the residents that are trying to get their family back to come that community," added Alderman Walter Burnett, 27th Ward.

City Council overwhelmingly passed the soccer complex. Among those voting in favor of it was the new 43rd Ward's alderman, Timmy Knudsen. He was sworn in Wednesday as the council's youngest member and the ward's first openly gay alderman. He replaces Michele Smith who quit in August.

"What is clear to me is that the 43rd Ward seeks fresh leadership. Neighbors have told me they want an aldermen who will fight for public safety and public schools, foster open dialogue," Ald. Knudsen said.

The city council also made the expanded outdoor dining program permanent, which began as a temporary program at the beginning of COVID to help restaurants stay in business.