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CHICAGO-A large area in the West Humboldt Park area may see long-needed retail development as a result of 678 acres designated for tax increment financing in a newly-created Chicago/Central Park TIF Redevelopment Project Area. Adoption of the TIF area was recommended Tuesday by the city’s community development commission.

Although more than 100 residents from the West Side neighborhood showed up for a hearing at city hall, opposition was muted by an impassioned call for support from 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett Jr. While the Chicago/Central Park area slated has continued to deteriorate, he notes commercial and institutional development around the Cabrini-Green housing project, a revitalized Greektown neighborhood, and a Kinzie Street area that has become attractive to businesses.

“This area has more vacant lots than any other area of the ward. There has been no substantial commercial development along Chicago Avenue or Division Street,” says Burnett, whose ward stretches five miles from Downtown. “People in our neighborhood are moving out, with some of them paying a mortgage on a vacant house or lot because they can’t sell it.”

Eventually, TIF money will allow the city to buy out owners of some of the empty storefronts that predominate Chicago Avenue, Burnett says.

In addition to commercial development, TIF money could aid new affordable housing as well as help preserve existing residential uses. Institutional uses such as a new police station and recreational activities also could come to the area, planning and development officials say. Burnett says he has been lobbying for a park district facility, library and YMCA, so far without success.

Although TIF plans note the possibility that 740 residential units could be replaced, Burnett says flatly, “That’s not going to happen.

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