Welcome to the June 2006
Conference Reporter Special Edition: all on HPKCC Harper Court forums reports
Volume 12, Number 2

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In this issue:


From the President's Desk: A Report on Harper Court

"We asked for feedback at the TIF, but the community could care less." I have been told that twice by members of the Harper Court Arts Council. I know they are wrong, based on the number of people who have attended the recent TIF meetings, who attended HPKCC forums, and who stopped me at the recent Garden Fair to express their concerts about what will happen to Harper Court.

In an effort to gauge community reaction to the potential sale and redevelopment of Harper Court, HPKCC has held three public meetings. The first meeting (reported by Trish Morse on page 7) was on March 28, attended by about 25 people; it purpose was to plan the two following meetings, but instead turned into a discussion of the inclusion of parking lot in the redevelopment parcel, and whether or not the Conference was conducting a "parallel" process. I never intended this to be a parallel process, and have certainly invited the Arts Council to all of our meetings; I view what the Conference is doing as a complementary process; listening to the community and channeling public opinion to the Arts Council, rather than hiding behind an email address.

The second meeting on April 11 was a public forum in which everyone was invited to express their opinions on what should happen to Harper Court; 60 people attended. Audience members were invited to ask questions and share ideas. A summary of the meeting by Gary Ossewaarde is on page 2.

The third meeting, April 25, was a working meeting in which the 38 participants were separated into color-coded tables and given three questions for which they had to reach consensus answers"

(1) What should an improved Harper Court do for the neighborhood?
(2) What should an improved Harper Court look like?
(3) How should our community influence the project so that the improvement benefits both the neighborhood and the Arts Council?

The audience's answers are detailed and analyzed in the article by M.L. Rantala and George Davis on page 4.

Overall, HPKCC has heard a variety of worthwhile opinions and ideas that deserve exploration. Among th e innovative and creative ideas volunteered by our neighbors, there have been several constant hopes expressed by the community, including:

  1. The original mission is still needed today and should be retained.
  2. The current tenants should be "helped" to stay in business during any construction period.
  3. Any development must be appropriate for Hyde Park, and should preferably be appealing to a broad spectrum of the neighborhood; a plus would be a "gateway effect" for 53rd Street.
  4. Any new development should be kept at a height consistent with 53rd Street, generally no higher than four stories.
  5. More adequate parking must be provided.
  6. Public space (such as chess benches and space for the farmer's market) is required.

The Conference has tried to serve as a funnel for public input to the Arts Council, so these forums were venues to gather ideas to be shared with the Arts Council board, the alderman, and the rest of Hyde Park.

The Conference committee on Development, Preservation an Zoning met on June 6 to compose a formal invitation to the Harper Court Arts Council to discuss their plans and the status of the RFP. This invitation [see in HPKCC and Harper Court website page] was sent on June 8 to all the Harper Court Art Council officers via regular mail and emailed to info@harpercourt.com. The Conference awaits a response.

Many questions remain unanswered:
What are the Art Council's ideas for appropriate development in Harper Court?

How are the Arts Council bylaws being revised?

What is being done to make the Council board more representative of the community and the arts?

What steps are being taken to eliminate conflicts of interest?

W hat framework will be created to make decisions about the dissemination of funds from the sale?

Until these questions are answered, and until the Arts Council proves itself capable of interacting with the community in an open, civil, and transparent manner, I will continue to encourage the Alderman and the Attorney General's office to pressure the Harper Court Arts Council board to either be more responsive to community concerns, or else resign and have the community select a new board.

George W. Rumsey


Major Points [presented by HPKCC and residents at] the May TIF meeting


April 11: Express Yourself: The Future of Harper Court

By Gary Ossewaarde

HPKCC President George Rumsey opened the forum (at the Neighborhood Club, April 11 2007. 7 pm), stating that special guests would set forth background and field questions, then the floor would be open to the public. Rumsey noted two issues, future of the property, and management of monies.

Mark Johnson, former board member and executive director of Harper Court, set forth history and experience and conditions of Harper Court.

Harper Court was built to replace businesses torn down in Urban Renewal, Johnson said. It was a planned unit development (PUD) that included what is now the Court, the city parking lot, and the site of McDonald’s. Originally, police and fire stations were supposed to go there, but when that changed no buyer was interested until the Harper Court Foundation was set up and bought the land for a dollar. To build the center, $100,000 worth of $100 bonds were sold and the rest was borrowed in 26 loans from the Small Business Administration, one for each space. The University and the Archdiocese of Chicago bought over half the bonds. Harper Court is not tax exempt and does not have property tax exemption, but a modest reduction. The Scan building’s arrangement is somewhat different, with 50-year leases that expire in 2016, after which it reverts to Harper Court. The bonds and loans were all paid off through a sinking fund about 1990.

The Center had 300,000 square feet (excluding the building built a little later by Scan Furniture and now housing the Checkerboard). The lower spaces have 6,000 square feet, the upper 12,000. The upper stories have high ceilings with operating louvers for “air conditioning” (real conditioners had to be added later). The lower spaces have very low ceilings. Johnson said not to blame the architect, Hyde Parker John Black, for the perpetual drainage problem—the lower level is below the sewer lines.

Johnson said the original vision to fill the lower sections with artisans was never realized. The restaurants basically footed the bill. Remodeling started from the beginning. Management continually wrestled with who to subsidize and how much—and how long with those that failed to pay their rent. The only remaining reduced rent artisan tenant is Artisans 21.

Johnson said the Harper Court Arts Council was formed in 1990 with bonds people turned in and said they wanted used to do nice or arts things in the neighborhood. The Council was also envisioned as the end point for the assets of Harper Court when the Court or Foundation someday ceased to function.

Johnson said the Court was built well and is still structurally sound and not settling. Almost all the windows are original, but single pane non-weatherproof. He said the plumbing and flooding are the most persistent problems. The buildings including electrical and plumbing would be very expensive to upgrade—the concrete was poured around the lines, and balconies did fail. Also, it would not be easy to bring it to ADA compliance (which he characterized as rigid). He said complete ramping would make the lower spaces completely hidden and useless. Some ramps were added in the 1990s.He added that retail has changed and left these spaces behind, and the present businesses are highly dependent on the city lot being in operation.

Alderman Preckwinkle answered questions on the Request For Proposals process and her general hopes for the area. She said that with the failure of the Arts Council’s attempt to sell, she asked them to use a city RFP process and asked the city to prepare an RFP with the Council, hoping this and inclusion of the city lot would cast as wide a net as possible for developers. City staff meetings and initial meetings with the Council are in progress. While she has asked that a draft for public comment be ready for the May 8 TIF meeting, she was not sure that would happen.

She said in answer to a question about further expansion that the University already has its own RFP responses, although there would most likely be close coordination. The University is reviewing 7 responses and will report May 8.

Inclusion of the parking lot was logical, she said, because a buyer would likely want control over parking.

RFP language ranges from very vague to very specific language intended to steer. They all give the zoning or PUD and other legal restrictions. The University’s maximum height is the bank building’s. She appeared not to know what the Harper PUD restrictions are. She would not approve a proposal with a 50 story building. The language with regard to density will probably be determined by how much a buyer will pay. The PUD will have to be changed through negotiation with the city. What would especially matter to her in language would be (as was in the Theater and Leal RFPs) keeping neighborhood scale, character, standards and that development help enhance a viable commercial district. Language would disqualify off the wall ideas. And the city will specify development that is compatible with 53rd Street.

Preckwinkle named among Hyde Park’s assets that would draw developers its housing stock, the lakefront, and being 20 minutes from downtown. She said it’s hard for us to persuade national brands to come here without deep subsidies, although when they come (e.g. Office Depot) the stores are highly productive. But we have a lot of competition now. She thought it best to have a mix of big and small, local and chains.
Some worried that the Council will have no incentive to accept minimalist proposals, those that are not dense or that keep the present center. George Davis suggested to the alderman also that the community may have interests that differ from those of both the Council and the city and therefore will not be reflected in the RFP.

Judy Roothan said it is important to specify that proposals promote and include diversity and variety. She said there should be a way to expand the process beyond just owners ready to proceed now—the affected area that has to be in play and considered goes well beyond the Court and city lot. Preckwinkle said the city would be compensated for the land and that the present lot won’t necessarily have the parking.

Public Comments
Sam Ackerman proposed nearby owners and developers work together to achieve the best outcome and to leave space to carry on a portion of the original mission.

Nancy Stanek said she was exemplifying the needed transparent process by announcing she has a long-term lease and she with others was exploring a bid, if engineering studies showed restoration and upgrade are feasible—but they had no interest in seeing the present center torn down. She is for supporting locally owned businesses. She disputed that retail has changed so much as to make that obsolete. These businesses add to the character of the community. She said that a section set aside for subsidized businesses in a big new development is problematic—in her experience such businesses come and go as the center owner has no real interest in serving them.

Some noted that the Court currently seems dead with little traffic—more so since the chess benches were removed. The space is not inviting and convenient.

George Rumsey said redevelopment should be tied to a new gateway and open space at the northwest corner of Lake Park and 53rd.

Clairan Ferrono stressed the serious lack of trust in a Council with conflicts of interest and leaving too many questions about handling of funds after a sale.

Gabriel Piemonte said professionals should evaluate the matter and manage the sale. Also that support of small business is needed. What about the present Court has worked, what hasn’t. Don’t wipe out the whole space, especially without full input and consideration of community interests.

Aaron Cook, who said he has worked with developers, said mixed use including residential works best and can have very good outcomes. He suggested a public design charrette. Rumsey reminded the alderman that this was done for creation of the TIF and asked her if she would be interested in charrette for Harper Court (not answered).

Charles O'Connell said we should study the original PUD and look at stipulating inclusion of sustainability (social and environmental) into the project as well as maintaining the areas character.

Sally Martini said the residential part would be a chance to create housing for commuting students.

Judy Roothan distributed a paper setting forth ideas for a gateway mixed development that would preserve our community’s diversity by making space that could be afforded by retirees, a broad middle class of professionals and workers and artists, and for small shops, perhaps with living space for owners—people who are in danger of being priced out of the community. This would be an ideal location to show our ideals while recognizing Hyde Park is becoming more “Gold Coast.”

Members of Artisans 21 of Harper Court came in (after their own meeting) and announced they want to stay in Harper Court.

Rumsey asked how the current tenants are being cared for and asked people to be prepared at the Workgroups April 25 to say if and how we want to preserve a space for current tenants, including maybe first right of refusal.

Charles Staples said that Harper Court has lost sight of its mission and just become commercial. The community is well served by the present center, and it’s handsome although in need of fixing.

Dorri Ellis of Artisans 21 said On the Nile is also maintaining the original vision. Artisans allows many artists to move in and out and find their bearings and move on. They tend to be the folks whose works will sell. She said there are lots of artisans in Hyde Park. She warned that rents elsewhere in Hyde Park are too high for Artisans 21 to survive outside the Court.

Alan Dobry called the transfer of the Court to the Arts Council a swindle and called on the Council to resign. He suggested seeking a nonprofit buyer or a land trust.

Robin Kaufman said the current uncertainty is making things hard for current tenants, and they will not survive or return to a new development if they have to vacate.

"Stephanie Franklin warned about creating too much density and congestion. Also against something that tilts too much toward residential (as she said Urban Renewal did.)


Mission of the Harper Court Arts Council

The purposes for which the organization was formed and for which the contributions are to be used for are:

1. To stimulate, encourage and enhance public appreciation of various art forms primarily in the Chicago metropolitan area, particularly in the Hyde Park/Kenwood community, including but not limited to, fine art, theatre, photography and music; and

2. To foster and develop the arts by sponsoring public art exhibits and theatrical performances of unknown, but promising, artists.


Principles to Guide the Future of Harper Court

An HPKCC Paper prepared by M.L. Rantala and George Davis for the May 8, 2006 TIF Meeting, May 8, 2006.

1. The HydePark-Kenwood Community Conference Remains Committed to an Open Process

In March, the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference issued an open letter to the community concerning Harper Court. The most important aspect of our letter was to reiterate one of the Conference's underlying principles: openness in community affairs. Back in March we wrote:

The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference is committed to openness in community affairs. Within the past 18 months we have called for greater transparency when it was time to select a state senate replacement for Barack Obama, asked that the current meetings to choose a rehab plan for Promontory Point to be open to the press and public, and requested that board members of the Harper Court Foundation explain their recent secret actions to the public.

Before an irrevocable decision on a decades-old community asset is made, we urge those who can affect this process to ensure that it is public and guided by principles the community can understand and stand behind. This neighborhood is richly endowed with citizens ready to give their time to a good cause. It is important to the future of our community that the wisdom and experience of those who live here play some role in defining the future of Harper Court.

On March 13, at the last TIF meeting, repeated suggestions that community groups advise members of the Harper Court Foundation and the Harper Court Arts Council in devising principles for their Request for Proposals (RFP) were repeatedly rebuffed. We said then that this was a mistake and nothing has happened to change our minds. Because we believe community involvement in this community asset created by community action and investment is vital, we held forums on April 11 and April 25. It is disappointing that while we filled the room both times, on neither occasion did any member of the Harper Court Foundation board or the Harper Court Arts Council board choose to attend.

Working together at our second forum, members of the community publicly and collaboratively suggested ways that change at Harper Court might proceed. But the most important aspect of our second forum was that the entire proceeding was public. The press was present. All members of the community were welcome. No backroom decisions were taken.

At the last TIF meeting, Alderman Preckwinkle asked the Harper Court board to be ready today to present a set of principles and a draft RFP. We at the Conference said that. we would do our best to prepare a set of principles, one that we gathered from the community.

2. The April 25 Forum

To that end, our forum on April 25 asked members of the community what they thought about various aspects of Harper Court. That forum was set up in the form of multiple discussions. Each participant sat at a table with as many as five other people. Each table worked collaboratively to answer a series of basic questions regarding the potential development of Harper Court. Each table was identified by a different color and each table provided three answers to each question. The answers were posted for every participant to see and review as a single group.....

3. Community Generated Principles for Harper Court Redevelopment

The various results of the group evaluations and the questionnaire clearly indicated some general principles that should guide any enhancement of the current structure or a redevelopment on the current site and parking area (referred to simply as Harper Court below).

Economic Principles

Harper Court should continue the original mission and subsidize and encourage small and/or locally defined businesses.

Harper Court should continue the original mission and subsidize and encourage local artisan spaces.

Any new Harper Court development should be a mixed use development. The range of acceptable uses in various combinations included commercial, residential, office, entertainment, restaurants, and artisans.

Planning Principles

Public open space should be a key element of any new development or enhancement of the existing structure. Open space should act as an inducement to bring people to Harper Court both by providing "green" elements (courtyards, green landscaping) and providing space for outdoor activities such as the Farmer's Market, or festivals.

Harper Court should act as a catalyst for all types of public community activity including entertainment, cultural events and spontaneous gatherings.

Public parking should be enhanced and increased.

Redevelopment should be designed to integrate Harper Court with 53rd Street and Lake Park Avenue with the following features:

A low rise development is preferred.

Institutional Process

The Harper Court Arts Council should increase its board to provide representation of a broader group of community residents and arts groups.

A clearer plan for the distribution of funds to local arts groups needs to be defined.


April 25, 2006- HPKCC Harper Court Forum: Ideas and Principles

Summary of the Forum on the development of Harper Court hosted by Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference: Each table was assigned a color, then given 15 to 20 minutes per question to reach a consensus on three answers; answers were then posted for clarification and discussion.

1) What should an improved Harper Court do for the neighborhood?

Provide a multiplex theater complex to revitalize the area, as in Evanston
Provide a multilevel parking garage, available day and night
Provide a haven for small non-franchise businesses

Maintain low rise
Mixed-use low rise small businesses
ADA Accessibility

Connect and interact with 53rd Street to create a seamless retail/activity core
Be a draw-through for retail, programming, arts, and entertainment
Attract community residents, including students, to shop in Hyde Park

Nurture small businesses and artisans
It should be a happening place, host art festivals and community events, etc.
Provide needed goods and services, such as a vet, and should be flexible (i.e. should change in response to the times
More imaginative management

Subsidize artisans and small businesses
Accessible public spaces for gathering
s. both planned and impromptu, such as chess, concerts, and farmers markets
Local retail needed and owned by the community

Provide a magnet such as theater, small business restaurants, to draw both community residents and outsiders
Provide subsidized space for small business and artists
Provide open space for community events

An agora, not a mall
Subsidized art experiences and venues
Business incubator

2) What should an improved Harper Court look like?

A walking arcade with teen, kid-friendly skateboard park in parking lot
Environmentally friendly rooftop garden and responsible green technology
Aesthetically pleasing low-rise low density height restrictions

More open space (more than now)
Pedestrian-oriented to encourage foot traffic
All structural perimeters have retail or public use ( no blank walls)
Assume an internal parking structure

Buildings with character and aesthetic interest making cars invisible
Provide significant central open space for gathering and greenery
Clear image including signs, directions, and attractions to pedestrians and for pedestrian flow

Hospitable, modern, dramatic, like the new Hyde Park Art Center
Build up vertically for additional shops, restaurants, housing, movies, and theaters
Accessible (ADA as well as easy to walk through) and easy to navigate

Live-in studios and workshops
Look at models throughout the country, examples: the Torpedo Factory and the Shriners Temple
Keep the Harper Court structure

Enhance outdoor ambiance, more color, more flowers, more chess
Welcoming entrance arches
Every space filled

Visibility to main avenues through signs, banners, directory
Same but improved low rise design and accessible
Open, friendly, with vibrant with activity

3) How should our community influence the project so that the improvement benefits both the neighborhood and the mission of the Harper Court Foundation and Arts Council?

Actively oppose, through the city planning department, any plan unsatisfactory to the community. (We can stop them if we get the Alderman's help, when it comes to the city process.)

Design multi-use structure, retail, office, restaurants, residential, etc. with space for parking structure and below-grade truck service, allow height on the east half of site to provide maximum money to meet the arts council objective of money for the arts; and subsidize limited number of small businesses and artisan shops. [The east end of the site is what will border on Lake Park that could have more height, even if it casts a shadow on McDonalds's. On the other hand Nancy Stanek says that if it were a blank slate, you wouldn't think of doing that because it would block off the rest of buildings.]

Initiate input in the Harper Court foundation/arts council by questioning their ethics through legal action.

Use the alderman's zoning leverage, and petition the state Attorney General for community/tenant reps on the Harper Court board.

Educate, publicize, flyers in Harper Court to diverse residents

Have a festival celebrating Harper Court, publicizing the issue

Profits from Harper Court sale to be dispersed by arts council only through grant proposals

Broaden arts council board to include many other constituents

Advisory council for private developer to provide community input for public uses [developer would want to get in good with community and would want the community's idea, creating a public-private partnership]

A referendum on high rises and density

Expand community base to be more inclusive

Get citywide media coverage

Development reflects community input and continues the original mission of Harper Court [subsidized spaces for retail, affordable spaces, arts and artisans]

Community ownership of land, not necessarily property/buildings [Hyde Park land trust

Private enterprise [as an entrepreneur, Nancy Stanek says there's a lot to be said for private enterprise. When you own and operate it and have something real at stake, then you care about it.]

Create a Main Street National Trust; get that group to help us

Work with the Alderman and TIF, but hold their feet to the fire to represent the community

Accountability process and rewrite the bylaws and reconstitute the Foundation/AC board
Reconstitute the Arts Council

Pursue legal basis of Harper Court Ownership [find out what the legal basis of the ownership of the real estate is, act accordingly]

Demand attendance by Foundation and Council members

Pressure Alderman to be responsive to community wishes

Other comments: Almost everyone present says a first priority si to give businesses in Harper Court a chance to keep operating.


Participant Evaluations: April 25 Follow-Up Questionnaire: Your Opinion on the Future of Harper Court

1. Would you prefer to see Harper Court rehabbed or rebuilt as something new?


2. Should the original mission of Harper Court (help develop arts/small businesses) be retained in any degree?

3. Should public space (such as the courtyard) be maintained and/or new spaces added?

4. Should current tenants be "helped" to stay in business during any development?

5. In general, how tall is acceptable for development along 53rd and Lake Park?

6. Compared to the parking lot on the corner of 53rd and Lake Park, how much parking should be required for any development plan?


7. Should any development include housing? If so, what kind of housing (open ended)

For sale
If its' affordable (part rent)
Apartments of condos or mix
Only if necessary to subsidize small business
Not luxury condos, mixed affordable-home ownership

Moderate income rental
Artists/studios & small business 2-story live-in
Yes, mixed at local price & low price
Yes, mixed live-in studios & workshops
Two stories of apartments in a 4-story building- source of income?
No, Hyde Park needs retail
Not necessarily
? Possible
No, other development projects are addressing housing

Artists housing
Some modest mixed income affordable
Maybe, studio apartments
Not necessarily

8. What do you think would be appropriate retail for Hyde Park? What kinds of stores would you realistically like to see?

Clothing, food
Not national franchise; locally owned
Food specialty shops, body & fitness services, clothing (men, women, children), dry goods, home equip.
Clothing, sewing/notions, small stationery, garden supplies and plants
Second hand store, art supplies store
Casual wear stores (sweaters, slacks, etc.) and lingerie
Something in general needs, like old Woolworth's or Breslauer's
Cool stores
Notions, sewing needs, good restaurant (an Indian/South Asian one), also many students
Vintage, charming restaurants, fiber art/yarn store (good for community), coffee
Small unique shops
Brown Elephant thrift store
Women's clothing, sportswear, varied gift wares, Chinese restaurant, antique shops
Clothing, sundries, yarn, fabric store
Restaurant, gift/craft shops
Artisans 21 and small businesses
Clothing, "fine foods" like chocolates, pastries, toy stores, artisans cafes, sporting goods, restaurants
Too many subcultures, too many choices
Canvas the community
Children's clothing, toys, housewares, jewelry, knick-knacks
Bigger Artisans 21
Local business - no franchises
Art galleries
Arts, crafts, practical shops, such as sewing, etc.
Vanities including basic and a few dining destinations
Women's retail clothes

[Rest of evaluation is in "What do with assets?' section, below]


Planning Meeting on Harper Court Aimed toward the May 8 TIF (mtg.)

By Trish Morse, HPKCC Board

Alderman Toni Preckwinkle (TP): Asked for an "aggressive schedule" for t he RFP. Parking lot included so it's a joint RFP of public and private land, so the Planning and the Law Department of the city must sign off on it.

Jack Spicer: Where is the line defining the city part?

Mark Johnson (MJ): The true line is the line of trees behind the Dixie Kitchen to the east.

Nancy Stanek [a tenant] (NS): Are those inextricably together?

TP: Redevelopment terns would want to guarantee parking.

George Davis (GD): What is the prerequisite of a PUD [planned unit development] and why is the city involved here?

TP: Harper Court Foundation was not able to cast a wide net so the[ir] lawyer brought the buyer. The Planning Department casts wide net. RFP will go to the Planning Department. mailing list of developers. A diverse pool of buyers. so all this is being done as a service to the Foundation.

George W. Rumsey (GWR): What is the legal standing of an RFP? Contract? Are there letters of intent, penalties, deposits with the bid?

TP: Saw the RFP as a way to reach a broader pool of developers.

GD: Does it bind the foundation?

TP: It's always possible to reject all bids. Arts Council has held one meeting with the Chicago Consulting Studio folks.

ML Rantala (ML): Bundling parking, so who decides it's ok for the city?

TP: Department of Planning. They are doing it as a "favor to me." I work very closely with the Department of Planning.

Mary Anton: This is a parallel process, we have requested suggestions and not received any.

NS: No one has suggested bulldozing Harper Court but now I hear the bulldozers now that it's one land mass.

TP: Keeping the court can be one of the proposals. There are no plans for bulldozing.

GWR: This is supposed to b a meeting to plan 4/11 "vent" forum, and 4/25 working groups for ideas about good development for the neighborhood.

TP: The Arts Council owns it and will decide what to do with it, though anyone can give advice, but ultimately it's there decision.

GWR: Have t hey met with the attorney general about rewriting their by-laws?

TP: Know nothing about internal affairs.

GWR: Are they the group best to do this? Will they open their board to someone with actual arts background?

Mary Anton: We did ask for input through the e-mail site, we have defined a process, but no one dropped us a line, no one wrote, you just want a parallel process.

TP: There was no response to the Arts Council offer for input at the TIF.

NS: Was there a public announcement? No one saw it.

Mary Anton: There is a letter in the Herald this week, we asked for feedback a the TIF but the community could care less.

NS: Where is the statement of the actual terms?

Mark Johnson: Most know HCF created during urban renewal in particular by Muriel Beadle and Bruce Sagan. Courageous people helped (lists). A lot that ran from McDonalds, to the parkway, to Harper Court sits on a PUD. It's all restricted, not zoned, controlled by ordinance. They bought the land from the city for $1 (organically for a police and fire station that were located elsewhere). The parking lot was unpaved for the first 20 years. HCF pays income and property taxes. The three buildings were built for $360,000, sold $100 bonds, and borrowed $250,000, 1 loan for each space. By the time it was built, the artists had gone from the neighborhood. They didn't want people to live in the studios, so the bathrooms are too small, there's no A/C (hence the vents on the windows), hand on management, as the tenants went under, the foundation paid all 26 loans.

[MJ]: HP Arts Council created as a vehicle to spend money after bond money was paid. Pays for the artists in residence, but a major bond holder was the U of C and it complicated things because of what a non-profit could do in terms of giving money to other non-profits.

[MJ]: Mom and Pop businesses are folding, buildings structurally in need of major work--original windows cost $1000 each to replace, balconies need replacing and ADA compliance. In 1998, one cost $250,000. The small spaces had to expand. The land lease to the Checkerboard ends in 2016. The lower levels flood with the sewers so it's nasty. The catch basins and sump pumps and electrical all need work.

[MJ]: By-laws say that they can give assets to a 501(c)3 organization"like the U of C" not requires that it go to them, just an illustration.

Mary Anton: These meetings are too late.

Barbara O'Connor [(Barbara)]: Nobody knew anything about this, no one who was on the Board, the first TIF meeting was the first anyone heard from you. Even I didn't know. We're concerned with what's going on. You negotiated for years but not [in] an open process. You need to allow people to put together ideas.

[Sarah Diwan of] Baby Ph. D. tenant: History is important to define. I am a tenant of Harper Court and I think we need to focus on a series of topics: land use, current building conditions, types of tenants wanted, where others may go if displaced.

Barbara: I called George. The HPKCC since 1949 is always there for a crisis, they always dug in. TIF is not a community wide structure. I pushed him into doing this.

Mary Anton: It's too late, April 11 and April 25 are too late.

Carol Bradford [(Carol)]: I don't know you from anybody, Mary, why is it too late?

Mary Anton: If a presentation is to be made at the TIF May 8, a working group 4/25 is too late. You just want a parallel process.

ML: The problem is of your making.

Carol: You didn't have this open process from the git-go. You are disingenuous and it's insulting.

Mary Anton: We won't have adequate time to include your comments by May 8. It's an unrealistic process..

Chorus of voices--Well, push the timetable back.

[Sarah Diwan:] This has been dragging on for years! Don't push it back.

Ted Carrison, Herald reporter, tries to clarify what they think is included in [just published issue of] the paper.

Person in back: We need a process to organize input.

Tom Wake [a tenant]: The question is, "Do you want Harper Court to stay?" If so, we'll try to put together a proposal unless the engineers prove that it's an unworkable white elephant. If you don't want it to stay, hell, I'll just get a site somewhere else. An important element in the RFP is how you think current tenants should be treated.

Mary Anton: Well, go to the website, the contact information is there.


"What would you like the Harper Courts Arts Council to do with assets from the sale of of Harper Court?"

Use it to incubate & nourish small startup and independent businesses
Subsidize artisans shops/studios and funky small business
Support artisans
Give to community for community-led development; keep away from U C
No sale
Should give, not sell, property to a community group
To arts orgs? A theater?
They should not sell it to anyone except the community- a land trust which should be established- with leases given for buildings
Put into Hyde Park
Not waste them
Give grants & scholarships - artists in residence
Disperse slowly over years by means of grant proposals; form a larger HP Arts
Dispense profits only through grant proposal process
Scholarship funds for young artists
Support arts/small local business
Grant money for artists, artisans, musicians
Redistribute through open grant proposals
Please - no sale - that much money in the hands of one council is obscene
Support arts/education
Support the arts in the community
Part to arts, some to retail
Support the artisans
Use original purpose-reconstitute the board with community/tenant reps

Other comments

Affordable housing (NFP develope, with retail downstairs)
Board transparency
Open/expand the board
Community land trust
Have a referendum
Combination of leased and owned businesses? Management company?
Parking lot should NOT be part of the plan.


[HPKCC] Board Endorses Original Harper Court Mission

On May 4, 2006, the Board of the Hyde Pak-Kenwood Community Conference voted 12 to 2 (with2 abstentions) to endorsed the need to preserve, in some form or manner, the original mission of the Harper Court Foundation: "the civic purposes of furthering the trade and economic development of the Hyde Park-Kenwood area in the City of Chicago and its environs, an promoting and assisting the growth and development of business concerns, including small-businesss concerns in said area" with special emphasis for "the continuation in the community of artisans, craftsmen, and educational, recreational and other services offered on a commercial basis, but of special cultural or community significance" paragraph 5, Harper Court Foundation Articles of Incorporation, April 17, 1963.



The purpose of the Conference is to attend to the civic needs of the community; work toward an attractive, secure, diverse, and caring community; and to promote participation of residents, businesses, institutions, and organizations in programs and activities that advance the interests and concerns of the community. It serves the community as a watchdog, independent voice, and clearing house in the community's ongoing conversation and decisions about those matters which affect and define community life.



President: George W. Rumsey
First Vice President: Jay Ammerman
Vice President: James Withrow
Vice President: M.L. Rantala
Secretary: Gary Ossewaarde
Treasurers: Jane Pugh, Irene Freelain


Homer Ashby
Nancy Baum
Jane Comiskey
George Davis
Judy Dupont
Clairan Ferrono
Lynne Heckman
Joanne Howard
AnneMarie Miles
Julie Monberg
Patricia Morse
Joy Nieda
Bill Pavelec
George Cooley (emeritus)


Chicago Academic Games League
Friends of Blackstone Library
Hyde Park Garden Fair
Nichols Park Advisory Council
Parks Committee
Schools Committee
Transit Task Force

1513 E. 53rd street
Chicago, IL 60637
(773) 288-8343
e-mail: hpkcc@aol.com

HPKCC is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization