Ask me how I feel about the Annie Glidden North project when I know how NIU is involved


DeKalb city council had a special meeting on Tuesday to discuss what they’re calling the Annie Glidden North (ANG) “revitalization plan.” ANG is what they call three neighborhoods in the northwest section of the city on either side of Annie Glidden Road.

According to the 100-page memo that accompanied the meeting agenda, DeKalb in 2016 “began a process to solicit proposals for consulting services to develop a strategy for the revitalization of the Annie Glidden North (AGN) neighborhood.” In other words, the city hired another consultant to do another study.

During the meeting, however, city employees objected to members of the public calling the project a study. They’re acting very thin-skinned about members of the public noting that we have stacks and stacks of studies lying dustfully on the shelves, so they’re countering by calling this one a “plan” already instead.

I encourage you not to engage them in the game. They may not have a leg to stand on, and they may produce little when it comes to results, but they can do semantics all day long. Just smile and say, “Po-ta-to, po-tah-to,” and move on to the important stuff.

It’s important that speakers expressed concern that the city’s financial situation cannot support the revitalization efforts a big-city consultant might be expected to suggest, and that a more direct approach to public safety is what we should be looking at right now.

It’s important that Pastor Joe Mitchell of the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church announced that the church will be building a new community center within two years, and that he wanted to attract investment that would lead to revitalization — not gentrification — of the area.

It’s important to listen to the people who live and/or work in these neighborhoods.

What’s also important is to know whether something is going on outside of the public meetings. By this I’m referring to NIU, which was knee-deep into the secretive College Town Partners redevelopment scheme, and meddled in the University Village rezoning matter.

University Village is part of Annie Glidden North. NIU worked a plan on UV, and it may already have a plan — not just a study — for other parts of AGN as well.

The university was involved in private discussions about potential redevelopment of properties in the area off of Annie Glidden at Hillcrest. Emails obtained from NIU via Freedom of Information Act requests reveal that in spring of 2014, then-NIU vice-president Bill Nicklas met at Campus Cinema with Chuck Hanlon, principal urban planner with Wills Burke Kelsey Associates, and arranged for Hanlon to create “a proposal for us that looks at the commercial strip along Hillcrest and Blackhawk, as well as a wider area in all directions to envision a different neighborhood.”

The emails include Hanlon’s proposal. The city was apprised, a preliminary plan was prepared for review in June 2014, and an NIU employee was tasked with supporting the creation of a development plan, for example by determining the costs of a “mini special census” in the neighborhood.

Where is the development plan, and how might those events be influencing today’s?