The Pullman Park project on Chicago's South Side is the brainchild of Alderman Anthony Beale (9th), and this week Governor Pat Quinn boosted the development with state funding that would help create 1,000 permanent jobs and 700 construction jobs.
Beale joined Quinn at a Feb. 18 news conference to announce that a stretch of Doty Avenue just north of 111th Street and west of the Bishop Ford Expressway has been reconstructed. Since 2008 the road has experienced disrepair making access to Pullman Park difficult.
But thanks to $4.6 million from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity the road has been repaired, which Quinn said would attract more retailers to the site.
“This is the largest tract for redevelopment in the city of Chicago,” Quinn said of Pullman Park. “This is big,” Quinn said.
Construction began in September 2011 for the 270-acre Pullman Park development that will include a Supercenter Walmart, affordable housing, a hotel, park, and a new school, according to Beale. The Walmart Super Center is expected to open by year-end.
The South Side alderman said by creating more jobs it would ultimately help reduce violence, which he said is sparked in part by frustrated people unable to find employment.
“It’s important that folks have an opportunity to work in their community,” added Quinn. “If you’re able-bodied and you’re breathing, we want you working.”
One main purpose for Walmart recruited as the anchor tenant for the project, said Beale, is its ability to address the food desert that exist in the area.
“Where do we go for lunch? Where do we go for dinner? Just to have a nice night out?” Beale asked. “We have to go outside our community. When you spend a dollar inside our community, it circulates for three to four hours, and it’s gone. Now, when you spend a dollar inside our community, that dollar circulates three to four weeks.”
Having access to quality food is something every community should have available, added Quinn.
“Unfortunately, right now, this [Pullman] is a food desert, and we’re not going to tolerate that,” Quinn said. “We want to make sure that everyone has access to good food, fresh food.”
The Far South Side community is made up of 87,827 people and 94. 8 percent are black while only 2.6 percent are white, according to census data.
And complimenting the upcoming Pullman Park development is the Millennium Reserve, which began in 2011.
The MR project, which is expected to boost green space in Chicago, will convert industrial wasteland along Lake Calumet into space safe for recreation and outdoor exploration.
And according to Quinn, MR is the largest open space project in the country and will enhance public recreation opportunities in 140,000 acres of land in the Calumet region, which runs through the Roseland community.
“The Millennium Reserve will expand the amount of green space in the Chicago area by more than 140,000 acres and give families living in our largest urban area more opportunities for outdoor recreation,” explained Quinn. “This important project will convert an industrial area into valuable open space that gives area families a place to gather, play and experience the great outdoors.”
Phase One includes Indian Ridge Marsh, a 145-acre site where officials hope to improve aquatic, wetland and woodland areas, build recreational trails, create new habitats and preserve a breeding ground for the endangered black crowned night heron.
As part of the MS, Calumet Core phase, Quinn said the state would kick in $17.9 million from the Illinois Jobs Now! capital program to improve recreational facilities in the area.