CALUMET CITY | A firm studying the city is trying to figure out how to use its history and character as selling points toward bolstering its future economic development.
Mike Hoffman, a vice president of Evanston-based Teska Associates, made a presentation Thursday to city officials and residents, noting Calumet City has many older homes that could be marketed to those people with an interest in a vintage home.
“One of the things that separates this community from other area communities is that it has a nice mix of housing,” said Hoffman, adding that the cost of homes fits into many price ranges.
“People like the price of the homes in Calumet City,” he said, while admitting that the level of foreclosures within the municipality in recent years works against encouraging people to want to move to the community.
Another potential weakness is the lack of large parcels of land for industrial development such as factories that would benefit the Calumet City economy. “We’re not going to rip out homes for industry,” he said.
Much of Thursday’s hearing, however, was devoted to getting input from the nearly 20 people who attended. They were shown photographs of different types of structures and asked if the structures were something they would like to have in Calumet City.
Those attending said they’d prefer more new homes built of brick, and they expressed a strong hostility toward apartment buildings in general.
But City Treasurer Gerald Tarka said apartment buildings serve a legitimate purpose in the city’s development. “For some people, home ownership can become an anchor that holds them down if there are sudden changes in their life,” he said. “There is a demand for rental units.”
Thursday’s public hearing focused on the part of Calumet City from State Line Road to the east, Sibley Boulevard to the north, 156th Street to the south and Burnham Avenue to the west.
Terry Jenkins, managing director of Business Districts Inc., said many existing homes in the area give Calumet City a sense of character unique to other communities.
“This is not going to be a significant downtown,” he said of the area. “But it can be a town center of significance.”