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Neighbors Displaced by New Stadium Get New Lots In Lottery

November 2, 1988

CHICAGO (AP) _ The ping-pong balls bobbled around, then out popped the one telling Dessie Singleton where she will live after the home she has lived in for 35 years is destroyed.

Ms. Singleton was among 19 families who took part in a unique lottery Tuesday night - one that would determine who would get which lot when an entire neighborhood is relocated to make way for the new Chicago White Sox stadium.

″I hate to move, but since I’ve got to move, I guess they’re giving us a fair deal,″ Ms. Singleton said as she followed the bouncing balls.

When the American League baseball team decided on a new home across the street from 78-year-old Comiskey Park, residents of the neighborhood protested that their close-knit community would be torn apart. So officials building the $150 million ballpark agreed to move the resident homeowners as a group into a new neighborhood of their choice. Those who didn’t want to were given fair- market value for their homes plus $25,000.

″How do you go in and give one lot to one person and another lot to another person?″ asked Georgia Petropoulos, project manager for the Rescorp Deveopment Co., which is overseeing the $10 million relocation. ″I think everyone realizes (a lottery) is the fairest way to do it.″

The City Council and the city’s Landmark Commission still must approve the cost of the sites and plans for the homes.

While most residents agreed the lottery was fair, they were not as impressed with the fairness of the move itself.

″It is not our choice - it’s our second choice,″ said Susie Myers, who lives with her sister and 95-year-old father. ″This has been home to me for 46 years. It’s not my decision to move, so it does not make me happy.″

And most of them didn’t have much of a preference as to which lot they were assigned. So while they enjoyed seeing their old friends at the lottery in a school cafeteria, nobody really felt they lost more than the next person.

″Actually it didn’t matter to me,″ said eight-year resident Mary Marshall. ″I’m just glad it’s over with.″

The neighbors will be moved from their primarily blue-collar neighborhood across the Dan Ryan Expressway to a redeveloping middle-income neighborhood called the Gap. Because their new homes will not be ready until the end of summer, they will move first to temporary housing when they leave their old homes in January.

Some residents of the Gap fear the new homes will not fit into the historic district that includes several houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. They have objected to the design plans, complaining the new homes would be made of a plaster substitute instead of stone.

″We’re clearly helping the community in that 19 vacant lots will have 19 new homes on them,″ countered Peter Bynoe, director of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, which is building the stadium. ″Other issues in terms of the economic stability of the new residents are unfounded.″

But when the White Sox move into their new ballpark in 1991, they may find they’ve lost some friends as well as neighbors.

″At one time I was a Sox fan, but not anymore,″ said Ms. Myers.

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