Thursday, July 07, 2011
PLAN FOR VACANT LAND AT HOWARD AND ASHLAND
Rogers Park harvests plan for open land
that could become urban farm
DAVID ROEDER,Chicago Sun-Times
Densely and diversely populated, could Rogers Park on the city’s North Side soon be the site of an urban farm?
It’s an idea getting a serious push, and deservedly so. Capital to build on vacant lots is hard to come by, so why not use the land to grow produce and teach agricultural and business skills?
Rogers Park could get a farm at 7501 N. Ashland, a two-acre site that 20 years ago was the home of Lerner Newspapers. Royal Bank of Canada is foreclosing on the land. The city invited developer proposals for the property a few years ago, but nobody responded.
Residents organized as Rogers Park Farms have proposed taking it over, but they need funding and city help to get it out of private hands. Ald. Joe Moore, whose 49th Ward covers Rogers Park, has authored an ordinance authorizing the city to negotiate to buy the property.
Moore said he’s intrigued by the farming idea but wants to leave the door open to other development interests. He said money is available from the account of a tax-increment financing district that includes the property. Called the Howard Paulina district, it last reported a balance in 2010 of $11.2 million.
Any farmers interested in taking over the property “would have to demonstrate they have the capacity to carry this off,” Moore said. His ordinance is up for a vote today at the City Council.
Moore said Rogers Park Farms wants to partner with the Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights, which is establishing a farm on the West Side.
“It could work well in my neck of the woods, too, with the high unemployment we have near Howard Street,” Moore said.
Posted by mcl at 8:10 AM