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Protect ZBerry & other family-owned, small businesses in Hyde Park from MAC & the U of C

This petition had 493 supporters

ZBerry, a frozen yogurt shop on 53rd Street owned and operated by Zenzile “Zenzi” Powell, a Black woman from the South Shore neighborhood, and currently a resident of Hyde Park will be forced to relocate to 35th & Cottage in late September due to the rising costs of rent enforced by MAC Apartments. Though she's making plans for her big move, she should not have been pushed out because of an unnecessary rent hike. As large gentrifying businesses like Target, the Hyde Park Hyatt, Chipotle and Starbucks have moved in with the help of the University of Chicago and public tax-increment financing (TIF) dollars, smaller, family-owned businesses like ZBerry are displaced, continuing the history of the University’s disregard for neighborhood culture and true diversity. 

As University students move into Vue53 this Fall Quarter 2017 and the University makes plans to move further south to 61st & Dorchester Ave. with a dorm room, it needs to make sure that its “civic engagement” isn’t merely benefitting incoming students and professionals, but also the populations that have roots in Hyde Park and call it home. The University can use its relationship with MAC Properties and its own financial prestige to stabilize Black and other minority and family-owned businesses in the area, even if MAC Properties (led by Antheus Capital LLC/the Siliman Group) refuses to do so. I’m calling on MAC Properties and the University of Chicago to: 

1)    Institute a rent-stabilization program for Black and minority-owned businesses especially along 53rd Street, and in the Hyde Park campus area that will allow these businesses to thrive without fear of their rent out-pacing them, and

2)    Immediately re-instate the ZBerry location to Ms. Powell as the first project under this rent-stabilization program if she chooses, and

3)    Prioritize small Black, minority-owned, and small family-owned businesses when leasing opportunities open up with MAC and University-owned commercial space along 53rd Street, and finally,

4)    Allow pre-enrollment in the rent-stabilization program for new Black and minority owned small businesses, and include in the program other financial, skill and technical assistance-based incentives to keep them stable.

Your signature, as a student, university staff person, Hyde Park resident or any other concerned party can help pressure the University to not only acknowledge how it has been complicit in the displacement of small businesses, low-income folx and minorities, even with TIF monies supposed to be used for public benefit and not just private development, but also take action! The Office of Civic Engagement especially, has a duty to respond and spearhead this effort alongside community residents, and support small businesses with even more strength than it already does. 

For more background information on the history of displacement/TIF usage/Mac/UChicago, and/or to sign on as an organization, click here

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