May 25, 2007

Grove Parc residents seek U of C’s help

[img id="80255" align="alignleft"] Tenants and supporters of the embattled Grove Parc housing complex in Woodlawn met with University administrators Wednesday to solicit their support amid concerns that a government-mandated redevelopment plan could displace the property’s low-income and predominantly black tenants. Despite encouraging future dialogue on ways to address tenant complaints, the University said it would not commit to supporting the group’s agenda.

Grove Parc resident Faith McGhee led fellow members of the Grove Parc Tenants’ Association (GPTA) in the effort to secure University backing for their cause, which primarily calls for increased tenant say in the redevelopment plan. The housing complex is at risk of foreclosure after failing government inspections last year, and tentative plans could signal the displacement of 300 residents, according to GPTA.

“We have a history with Grove Parc,” said McGhee at a press conference in front of the administration building after meeting with Hank Webber, the U of C vice president of community affairs and a board member of the Woodlawn Preservation and Investment Corporation (WPIC), which owns Grove Parc. Calling the situation a racially motivated effort by the government and the University, McGhee said that University plans for a new dorm and parking garage near the housing complex reflect alternative motives. “I believe the University of Chicago has always had an interest in these properties,” she said. McGhee said only that her claims are based on personal theories and speculation.

“The University is a party with some influence, but we are very far from the major decision maker on the future of Grove Parc,” Webber said in an e-mail interview. “Our hope is that a solution can be crafted that is fair to the residents who have had to live in very poor conditions for a long time.”

Webber, whose place on the WPIC board gives him a vote on the redevelopment plan, said he “did not support a veto” of the proposal. Another meeting between the University and GPTA advocates is expected within several weeks, according to McGhee.