Information for Community Homeowners & Residents

Did you know that you live in a “blighted” community?  Neither did we.

We chose to live and invest in the North Park neighborhood, just like you.  We work hard for what we have. We take pride in our homes and businesses. We are working moms and dads.  We are retirees from the trades, school teachers, police and firemen.  We come from diverse backgrounds and are close to the immigrant experience, striving to achieve our slice of the American dream.  We are the middle class.  We strive for more through an honest hard days’ work, not through short-cuts and schemes. We live here, in the shadow of NEIU, in a community we love.  We try to make it beautiful in our own way.  We look out for our neighbors.  We call it home.

It turns out that NEIU President Sharon Hahs and the NEIU Board of trustees have a plan for all of us. A plan that is so good, that we will like so much, that it was a secret surprise hatched over months and years of planning and conspiring and only recently revealed—in the form of a thinly veiled procurement award to a corporate real estate developer and lawsuits filed against the property owners on Bryn Mawr between Kimball and Bernard.

NEIU President Sharon Hahs and the Board of Trustees have spent the last few years spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on consultants and lawyers to re-imagine our neighborhood- without asking us for an opinion of whether we want it, need it or what it should look like.

Further, NEIU has condemned our properties to achieve their vision, misusing the power of eminent domain to devalue all of our properties and attempt to steal the 3400 block of Bryn Mawr for a fraction of fair market value.

The impact to the condemned property owners families and businesses is devastating- emotionally and financially.  We don’t sleep at night.  We have lost our appetite.  We fear for our future.  We stand to lose what took a generation or more to build up.  Our financial well-being is compromised.  Our ability to sell our property on the open market is gone.  The filing of eminent domain condemnation and the accompanying legal bills have harmed us in many ways, but they have also harmed the surrounding homeowners.  Here’s how:

It’s not just the 3400 block of Bryn Mawr that needs to worry.  The 3500/3600 block of Bryn Mawr, residents on the 5200 to 5600 Bernard and St. Louis avenues from Foster to Bryn Mawr, and maybe more.  You could be next.  You sit between NEIU’s main campus and its proposed satellite dorm and retail complex.  An unintended bit of collateral damage to your home’s potential resale value, courtesy of the NEIU land grab scheme.  Perhaps the next phase is to connect the main NEIU campus with the new development?  Who knows?  The only fact that matters is that NEIU has demonstrated its willingness to use eminent domain condemnation to seize private property in the surrounding community—even land blocks away from their campus.

One may rightly ponder the question- who is going to buy your home if you ever need or want to sell it when Sharon Hahs and the NEIU Board of Trustees have demonstrated a willingness to use eminent domain condemnation and wanton disregard for the community and the people who live there?  Will they seek to condemn your property next?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But it’s something a prospective home-buyer will think twice about when looking at homes adjacent to campus on St. Louis and Bernard and Bryn Mawr Avenues.

Dr. Sharon Hahs thinks the Bryn Mawr properties are worth 50% of fair market value.  Community residents must recognize that Hahs’ scheme is negatively impacting the value of your homes too.  If Hahs’ scheme goes ahead, no buyer will pay you fair market value for your home either- because the new “fair market value” will be in the real estate transaction records and all surrounding properties will be impacted by it.

Or, maybe your home isn’t seized and instead you now live in a permanent shadow from a five story, two city block set of structures that are filled with college students who drink and party until all hours, urinating in your alleys, attracting possible sexual predators to the neighborhood looking to prey on females in the new campus community.  The college campus sex crimes statistics from the FBI don’t lie.  The experience at UIC doesn’t lie.  The data is there to be scrutinized.  Will NEIU campus police have the manpower to increase patrols?  Will CPD have increased manpower to patrol the influx of new, young residents?  None of us know—because the plans were never discussed with the community.  Or worse- they haven’t been thought through.

Or, maybe just like North Park University and University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), NEIU won’t be able to fill the dorm rooms.  What happens next?  At North Park University, they have a completely empty dorm building.  At UIC, they fill the excess rooms with transient residents on a temporary basis for nightly “hotel-like accommodations.”

Or, maybe the project is financially unsustainable and the state taxpayers take a huge loss to bail out the private developer and Wall Street banks that backed the project.  A tax-payer bail-out.  No, that could never happen…again!

It turns out there’s some significant risks associated with this “economic development” project—but none of us know—because we’re not allowed to have a say.  We’re all in the dark while Sharon Hahs and NEIU’s Board of Trustees and their cronies have worked out all the details, right?  Wouldn’t it at least be nice to know what’s planned and to have a say in the future of our neighborhood?

Sharon Hahs is trying to permanently shape our neighborhood without our input.  She can retire in 2017 and afford to live well on her $293,000 annual salary and a big fat state pension that allows her to travel around the world chasing solar eclipses with her hubby.  A charmed life—with a wake of destruction in her past.

The private developer will operate and manage the retail and residential property, be responsible for its security and cleanliness, be responsible for making sure all is well.  One problem.  American Campus Communities is a faceless corporation, based in Austin, TX.  Got a problem, neighbor? “Please hold for the next customer service agent.”