Cabrini-Green site: from housing project to possible Target store

Since the mid 1990s, the area around the Cabrini-Green housing project on the north side of Chicago has been changing (see an overview of this change here). As the high-rises have come down (with the last residents leaving just recently), new mixed-income neighborhoods as well as new commercial buildings have gone up in the area. News comes today that Target may be building a store on this site in the near future:

Target Corp., the cheap-chic discount chain, is in talks with the Chicago Housing Authority to build a store at the site of the former Cabrini-Green Housing Project.

The retailer’s proposal was brought up for consideration at a CHA board of commissioners meeting earlier this month, said Matt Aguilar, CHA spokesman. “We are in discussions and hope to help bring additional investment to the neighborhood,” Aguilar said.

Demolition of the last high rise at Cabrini-Green is scheduled to begin on Wednesday. The seven-acre complex, once among the most notorious housing projects in the nation, is just blocks away from Chicago’s glitziest shopping districts on North Michigan Avenue and close to the wealthy enclaves of the Gold Coast and Lincoln Park.

Target declined to comment on the proposal.

If Target does move forward with this, it would be the second high-profile space they have recently obtained in Chicago. (Read here about their plans for moving to State Street.)

As redevelopment of this space continues to take place, how long might it be until residents and shoppers of the area forget altogether that the Cabrini-Green complex was once there?

Another question: is a big box store in the city such as Target okay or the best move? Does it depend on which store moves in (see the long-running battle between Wal-Mart and the City of Chicago) or are big box stores okay in the city but not good in the suburbs because of their contribution to sprawl?

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