West Side residents demand jobs via a Community Benefits Agreement with $300M redevelopment

Sept. 15 – Westside Community Benefits Coalition hosted a press conference and march today calling for a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) with the developer of a $300 million project that will bring hotels, retail and upscale housing to undeveloped land within the Illinois Medical District.

CCH leaders Angela McClellan and John Hilton lead the march (Photo by Rachel Ramirez)
CCH leaders Angela McClellan and John Hilton lead the march

Used in other cities, CBAs are contracts with developers, who in exchange for various public subsidies, promise to provide tangible benefits to the neighboring community, such as a specific number of permanent jobs and affordable housing units.

CCH is a partner in the Westside CBA Coalition, working with the Community Renewal Society and Action Now. We are pressing West Side aldermen and the developers — Gateway Development Partners — to commit to a CBA that would benefit West Side residents. This includes a commitment of jobs for West Siders who are unemployed or face reentry barriers. 

Tueday afternoon’s press conference was held outside the offices of the Illinois Medical District Commission, 2100 W. Harrison Street, which approved Gateway’s plans to redevelop the parcel. It’s been estimated the redevelopment will create 1,000 permanent jobs at the businesses that locate there.

Fifty community leaders attended the press conference, followed by a march and group prayer at the redevelopment site on the 2000 block of West Ogden Avenue.

A press event preceded the march
A press event preceded the march

“We demand a CBA to prevent ‘business as usual,’ and bring living wage jobs with benefits to West Siders, including those of us with criminal backgrounds,” said CCH leader Angela McClellan, a lifelong West Sider.

West Side residents experience three times the unemployment rate of the rest of Chicago. More than 35% of households live below the poverty line.

CCH staff working with the Westside CBA coalition are organizer Rachel Ramirez and policy specialist Jonathan Holmes.

Notables investing in the Gateway redevelopment include Isiah Thomas, Elzie Higginbottom, Thomas Samuels, and Jack Higgins.

Anne Bowhay, media, with photos by Rachel Ramirez