NEAR WEST SIDE — The Chicago Fire is pitching its $90 million training facility for the Roosevelt Square area on the Near West Side, weeks after the proposal to bring the center to a Belmont Cragin park stalled.
The soccer club has initiated talks with Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) to build the complex on about 30 acres of vacant land managed by the Chicago Housing Authority bounded by Roosevelt Road, Ashland Avenue, 14th Street and Loomis Street.
It would serve as the headquarters and main training facility for the Chicago Fire, and bring sports and recreation opportunities to families and youth living in the surrounding area, city and team officials say. Partners on the project are planning several community meetings starting in March to gather feedback.
“Soccer brings people together, fostering a strong sense of history and community while showing immense passion for the game. We look forward to presenting the project to the local community, hearing their feedback, and creating new opportunities for residents,” Chicago Fire President Ishwara Glassman Chrein said in a statement.
The facility would include practice fields and a performance center that would house the Chicago Fire’s Youth Academy, which would offer programs for local youth, especially those who live in public housing programs managed by the Chicago Housing Authority, officials said. Other amenities would be determined by input from community members.
In addition to recreation activities, the development could lead to additional investments into neighboring public housing sites and job opportunities for nearby residents, officials said.
The team previously sought to bring the facility to Hanson Park. Residents criticized the plan, saying they feared neighboring youth and schools would lose access to the park. Those plans were dropped in December after negotiations fell through with Chicago Public Schools, which owns Hanson Park.
The new location being eyed was once the site of the ABLA Homes, some of the first public housing projects in the city. The housing projects were demolished by 2007. A portion of the land is being developed into mixed-income housing as part of the Chicago Housing Authority’s Roosevelt Square development, which will eventually have 2,441 homes for rent and for purchase.
“By repurposing this unused land, we can secure substantial funds to rehabilitate [public] housing and develop new affordable housing while also creating employment opportunities for our residents and community members,” Chicago Housing Authority chief Tracey Scott said.
The project could “provide the surrounding West Side community with job, recreational and other incredible opportunities in the future,” Lightfoot said.
Information on coming community meetings and opportunities to give feedback on the plan will be posted on the Department of Planning and Development’s webpage for the Chicago Fire training center. Residents can also give feedback on the plan by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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