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Bronzeville, Near South Side

Michael Reese Hospital Redevelopment Should Hire Workers From Bronzeville, Union Says

The 20-year project will give Bronzeville an economic boost, but workers want to make sure residents aren't left behind.

Union workers gathered Thursday afternoon demanding to be included in the Michael Reese Redevelopment Plan, a 20-year project that will give Bronzeville an economic boost.

BRONZEVILLE — Hospitality workers gathered at the former site of Michael Reese Hospital on a snowy Thursday afternoon demanding locals be included in future plans for the multibillion dollar redevelopment project.

Members of Unite Here Local 1, a hospitality and food service union representing over 17,000 workers, say that they’ve been unable to get a firm commitment from Chicago GRIT — a development team lead by Farpoint Development, Loop Capital, Draper and Kramer, McLaurin Development, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, and Bronzeville Community Development Partnership — to ensure that hospitality workers who live in or are from Bronzeville will have access to employment opportunities once the project gets underway.

Block Club reported in October that the first phase of the $3.8 billion, 20-year plan could begin as early as the fall, which includes a community welcoming center, a data center, senior housing, and 1.35 million square feet of retail and office space.

Unite Here Local 1 members hold a banner before a Thursday afternoon press conference.

That worries residents like Kimmie Jordan, who worry that they’ll be pushed out.

Jordan was recently laid off from her job at Hotel Cass in downtown Chicago, where she worked for 16 years, and rising Bronzeville rents forced her to move to Englewood. She wants to return to the neighborhood but fears that she still won’t be able to afford it.

“This land belongs to us. This land belongs to Chicago and to the Low End. We deserve high quality jobs at the Michael Reese redevelopment because we deserve to come back home,” Jordan said.

Farpoint’s Director of Development Morgan Malone told Block Club in a statement that Bronzeville residents are a “critical part of the project’s success,” and that the team looked forward to meeting with Unite Here Local 1 in the “very near future” to discuss the creation of jobs and opportunities.

“I’m optimistic. We have to make this important to [city leaders], and we’re doing that. Today’s press conference will get through to the people who need it,” Jordan said.

Ald. Sophia King (4th) could not be reached for comment.

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