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Feds block Pullman housing plan for now


Crain's Chicago Business

The federal government has put at least a temporary brick on plans for the first major new housing development in many decades in the historic Pullman area on the Southeast Side

Developers say they believe the setback is temporary, and they hope to break ground next spring

At issue are plans by local developer David Doig and Minnesota-based Artspace to build 38 units of afforable housing for artists at 111th and Langley in the new Pullman National Monument. Twenty-six units would go on vacant space that once was the location of a large tenement building used as dormitory space for workers at George Pullman's railroad car factory. The other 12 would be in two existing buildings that would be rehabbed


Though the city backs the proposal, it has drawn a series of objections from a local civic group, the Pul man National Monument Preservation Society, which hired activist lawyer Tom Ramsdell to plead its case. The group has raised a series of objections about whether the project is compatible with the historic nature of the area, most recently suggesting that the tenement be rebuilt on foundations that in some stretches still are visible

The group recently found success when the U.S. Department Of Housing & Urban Development informed state and other local Officials that the project needed a new, fuller rev'ew by the state Of Illino's' historic preservation Official and that no work could occur without it.

Doig, in a phone interview, said his group believed it had done due diligence, but the feds concluded otherwise So the group will engage in further review, including a public hearing, in an effort to be "more conclusive and deliberate."

Doig said his financing has held together and *I'm not anticipating any problems." If all goes as expected, "Our plan is to start (construction) in the spring

Meanwhile, though, pending changes in tax law in Washington could eliminate the historic tax credits the development group has been counting on. Doig said his group hopes to avoid that problem by submitting needed paperwork before Dec. 31, when current tax laws will prevail.

Still, the preservation society sounds like it thinks it's winning

"We have long asserted that the historic reviews . . . were seriously nawed and potentially unlawful," President

Mark Cassello said. "It was approved with a wink and a nod."

Thomas J. Ramsdell



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