Target broke ground on their newest Chicago location on Thursday morning.
Alderman Walter Burnett (27th), State Representative Ken Duncan and representatives from Target, the Mayor’s Office and the Chicago Housing Authority were all present at the groundbreaking.
City representatives worked to strike a deal with the big box chain that would reserve 75 of the 200 jobs at the new Target for Cabrini-Green community members. Some residents, however, are more concerned with the immediate constructions jobs that will become available.
Long-time Cabrini resident Ronald Crosby says residents were promised demolition jobs when the high-rises came down, but never saw them. He says Burnett and Duncan both encouraged him to stay positive, “All I can do is keep my head up, that’s all I can do, is keep my head up, and hope that I can land a job, cause I need it. Bad.”
A Target representative said there will be a job fair held for those positions next week.
Alderman Burnett was enthusiastic about the project, calling it a victory for private-public partnerships. He said the Target will bring not only 75 new jobs to CHA residents, but increased economic development throughout the community, as banks become more willing to lend to businesses in the area.
"Folks across the street was worried about lights flashing in their homes, and I thought well, I don’t know what we can do about that, but Target, Target figured out a way of helping them out. They growing them some bushes," Burnett said, "That’s how sensitive and considerate Target is to the neighborhood.
The Target construction is in line with the goals of the CHA’s “Plan for Transformation,” which includes mixed-income housing units aimed at drawing wealthier residents to the neighborhood.
Some, however, are frustrated that no direct representative of the residents was present at the event. Many believe that the CHA-owned land was flagged for housing, and that leasing it to a private company could mean profits overshadow the interests of the community.
Paul Johnson is a former Cabrini resident and member of the African American Contractors Association. He says if the city wants to see real change in the neighborhood, they need to listen to what the residents are saying and acknowledge that a “cloud of fear” still hangs over Cabrini.
“They’re hoping that merely making this Target will make people flood, the upper crust people, flood over here in waves, and it’s not gonna happen.”