Alderwoman Gutiérrez Organizes Community Meeting Regarding Possible Relocation of the Discount Mall
July 11, 2023
Chicago, IL—Alderwoman Jeylú B. Gutiérrez, who represents the 14th Ward on the Southwest Side of Chicago, held a community meeting Monday evening in Gage Park to hear from residents surrounding the possible relocation of the 26th Street Discount Mall to the site of the former K-Mart at 51st and Kedzie. The meeting was attended by over 100 residents and aimed to engage the community and ensure that their voices were heard before the city makes a decision.
The community meeting served as an opportunity for Alderwoman Gutiérrez to hear directly from the residents and address many of their apprehensions, as it became evident that community engagement with Gage Park residents had been lacking in earlier discussions regarding the mall’s relocation. Since taking office, the Alderwoman has taken the initiative to engage the community, recognizing the importance of including their perspectives in the decision-making process.
During the meeting, neighbors expressed some concerns regarding potential issues such as traffic congestion, parking, and safety, among others. In addition, residents reiterated the need for investment and the lack of community spaces. Although they agreed that the plaza better serves the community when utilized, they did not want it placed on top of existing problems. Residents called for a traffic study to best understand the patterns and best practices to alleviate the already existing bottleneck. Alderwoman Gutiérrez acknowledged the seriousness of these concerns and assured community members she would forward them to all stakeholders. A representative from the Chicago Police Department was in attendance and provided important information regarding their process for approving new business licenses, which includes the creation of a security plan.
Of particular concern to the community was that Gage Park residents felt excluded from the decision-making process and the perceived role that external influencers had on the relocation. They expressed a strong desire to have their voices heard. Alderwoman Gutiérrez empathized with the community’s frustration and pledged to continue advocating for their interests within city government.
Gutiérrez said, “Decisions made regarding Gage Park should be made in consultation with the community members in Gage Park. Although this is a private business decision, the process requires compliance but also careful consideration of the surrounding community.”
Also in attendance were some of the displaced vendors who reminded community members of the importance of reopening the mall. They expressed their frustration and feelings of despair, citing a lack of direction, and communication from city hall and unfilled promises.
“The 26th Street Discount Mall and other similar markets have been an integral part of the immigrant community for decades, serving as a hub for local businesses and a gathering place for residents. Its potential relocation to the 51st Street Corridor has sparked conversations and raised valid concerns,” said Ald. Gutiérrez. “The Discount Mall has played a crucial role in fostering economic growth, providing affordable shopping options, and enhancing the social fabric of our neighborhood. The vendors also need answers, they should not be misled or used for political convenience.”
Unfortunately, the Office of the Mayor and the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection were unable to attend the community meeting and talk to the residents directly. Alderwoman Gutiérrez acknowledged their absence but reassured community members that she would continue to seek answers on their behalf and demand transparency from the administration regarding their plans.
Alderwoman Gutiérrez reiterated her commitment to representing the interests of the community and vowed to work tirelessly to ensure that their concerns were addressed and their voices heard. She recognized the importance of engaging community members in decision-making processes that directly impact their lives and promised to advocate for their rights throughout this ongoing discussion.
Moving forward, Alderwoman Gutiérrez will continue to facilitate open dialogue between the community and the city administrators, pressing for transparency and the inclusion of community input in any decisions regarding important developments in the ward.
About Alderwoman Gutiérrez:
Alderwoman Gutiérrez represents the 14th Ward and is committed to serving the interests of her constituents. With a strong focus on community engagement and inclusivity, she strives to ensure that the voices of her district are heard and respected in the decision-making processes that shape their neighborhood. She has held the office since May 15, 2023, succeeding long-time incumbent Alderman Ed Burke.
About the Discount Mall:
The Discount Mall, a longtime staple of Little Village’s 26th Street corridor, closed half of the building in March of 2023. Successful organizing efforts from the displaced vendors led administrators under then-Mayor Lori Lightfoot to search for a new site for the displaced vendors. After a thorough search for a nearby solution, the city secured a new property, the former CVS Pharmacy location near 26th and Pulaski, and offered financial assistance. At a community meeting in April of 2023, the vendors announced that they were rejecting the proposed relocation site and would instead pursue the location on 51st and Kedzie. At a press conference following the meeting, a group of vendors and other elected officials celebrated the announcement and declared that the mall would be relocated. Lori Lightfoot completed her term as Mayor of Chicago on May 15, 2023. As of July 2023, the Mall had not reopened, permits have not been requested, and the city has not yet indicated if they will facilitate relocation or provide any financial assistance.