BRIGHTON PARK — A proposal to build a new Chicago Park District headquarters in Brighton Park received the green light from the city’s Plan Commission on Thursday.
The park district’s proposal aims to build an 88,000-square-foot office space, a field house, playground, spray pool and three artificial turf fields on 17 acres at 4800 S. Western Ave., shifting the current headquarters from Streeterville.
In response to community feedback, the Park District added a teen center to the field house, and a new traffic signal and crosswalk at Western Avenue and 48th Place. The plan also includes two fitness centers and a gym with a full-sized basketball court, according to city officials.
Guests also can expect a green roof with more than 30 varieties of plants, more than 200 parking spaces and bicycle parking, officials said at the meeting.
John Ronan Architects has been contracted to design the new headquarters.
Planning commissioners lauded the project for bringing an amenity-filled complex to the underserved neighborhood.
Commissioner Maurice Cox called it “by far one of the most transformational investments” the city has made in the Brighton Park neighborhood.
Plan Commission approves a new @ChicagoParks headquarters at 48th and Western in #BrightonPark. It includes a two-story, 88,000-square-foot office that will replace the agency’s current HQ in Streeterville, as well as adjacent park space and a fieldhouse on a large, 17-acre site. pic.twitter.com/IPnsrR2xm9
— Chicago DPD (@ChicagoDPD) September 17, 2020
The Chicago Park District sold its headquarters to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for $22.5 million in 2015.
City officials unveiled the plan to move the headquarters from Downtown to Brighton Park in 2018. At the time, then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the move would bring 200 existing jobs along with “much-needed recreational assets” to the South Side neighborhood.
Brighton Park was selected out of 20 possible locations because it is one of the top five community areas in need of open space, city officials said, and because of the site’s close proximity to the Western Orange Line and the Western bus route.
No price tag for the facility has been revealed. Park District Supt. Michael Kelly said officials are working to secure more funding for the project.
While the project was well-received, some commissioners raised concerns the project could result in gentrification-fueled displacement.
“What we don’t want is to end up with this beautiful park but all of the Latinos pushed out of the neighborhood, commission chair Teresa Córdova said.
“We need to make sure this park does not result in the gentrification of this neighborhood. They deserve these amenities, too.”
Upon City Council approval, Park District officials said they hope to start construction this winter.
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