Chicago approves plan to build migrant tent camp on land slated for development

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Chicago Construction News staff writer

Chicago City Council has approved a plan to turn a $6.5 acre vacant lot near 115th and Halsted into a migrant tent camp.

However, it’s a temporary plan until November 2024, when the land will be redeveloped. Morgan Park Commons, a 12-acre project that would transform the former Jewel-Osco grocery store and Halsted Mall into affordable housing and retail, is expected to break ground on the site in 2024.The city will buy the south side property for $1 from New Albertsons LLC to convert into an encampment for up to 1,500 people in winterized tents.

According to council, the site can’t be used as a tent camp past Nov. 1, 2024, and community input will guide future development on the land, said Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th), chairperson of the Committee on Housing and Real Estate.

It’s unclear how quickly the tent camp will be operational or how many migrants will be housed there.

The “winterized base camps” were officially suggested by Mayor Brandon Johnson as a way to get thousands of migrants out of police stations and provide them shelter as colder temperatures arrive.

GardaWorld Federal Services has been awarded a $29 million contract to build the camps.

About 3,100 migrants are now sleeping in police station lobbies and at O’Hare Airport, according to the Office of Emergency Management and Communications and there are more than 11,900 people living in city-run shelters— up from 6,600 on Aug. 31.

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