CHICAGO (CBS) — A strongly-worded letter to Mayor Lori Lightfoot claims to represent the fear of tens of thousands of Chicago high-rise residents following the looting this past weekend.
But does it really speak for all of them? And does it ignore the struggles of Chicagoans who have lived with these fears for years?
As CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reported Thursday, two Chicagoans said the answers to those questions is no.
The Hollywood Towers at 5701 N. Sheridan Rd. is managed by the Sudler company. It sits right next to Lake Shore Drive in Edgewater, about 10 miles away from where the looting happened.
Sudler claims residents there are living in fear. Some have called that an exaggeration, and that is not all we’ve heard around Chicago.
The tersely-worded letter came after the cleanup from a night of looting Sunday into Monday. The letter amounted to a complaint to Mayor Lori Lightfoot about “a lack of responsiveness and support from the city.”
The Letter was penned by Steven P. Levy, president of Sudler, which manages over 100 residential buildings citywide. It was shared with all 60 thousand residents.
Levy wrote that ensuring the wellbeing of his tenants is one of his primary duties, and he said that responsibility “has been made much more difficult in recent months due to the lack of responsiveness and support from the City of Chicago.”
He wrote that the residents he represents are afraid enough of being a victim of violence in the city that they have changed their daily routines and are in many cases thinking of moving away.
“The homeowners we represent do not feel safe. From Hyde Park to the Gold Coast to Edgewater, residents across the city are adjusting their daily routines out of fear. They’re avoiding neighborhood walks after 6:00 p.m. At night, they don’t stand too close to their windows or dare to enjoy their outdoor balconies or terraces. Their children, who will likely be homebound for the remainder of the year, are forced to play indoors because local parks and playgrounds have been inhabited with litter, vandalism, and crime,” Levy wrote. “This is not a way to live, and I can’t fault homeowners when they tell me they’re considering leaving Chicago.”
“Welcome to our world,” said Corie Luckett, owner of Englewood Branded.
Englewood Branded is a clothing store in the Englewood neighborhood, a community that has struggled with disinvestment, unemployment, and violence.
“These are things we go through on a daily basis,” Luckett said.
Luckett also calls his store a community hub, where through food drives and volunteer activities he offers young folks something more
“Support,” he said.
Instead of writing to the mayor, Luckett believes Sudler should ask how can it get involved in communities to provide opportunities o the disenfranchised.
“At that point, you can say you tried to help out and see what happens from there,” Luckett said.
Gino Generelli owns a condo at a Sudler-managed property in Edgewater and received the letter.
“It seems tone deaf,” he said. “You have looting at luxury shops, 100 people are arrested, and somehow that’s not enough?”
Generelli said Sudler never surveyed residents before representing its political sentiments as their own.
“I felt it was very unethical,” he said.
“What goes through my mind is I am inviting you to come take a walk through Englewood with me,” Luckett added. “Understand the things we are going through here; understand how we are trying to resolve issues that occur and that we deal with on a day to day basis; help to create a plan so we can make things better.”
There are clearly Chicagoans who share the feelings expressed in the letter. We have spoken to them in many reports.
But we wanted to get a better idea from Sudler about the specifics of its concerns and what can really be done. The firm has not responded to our requests.
We also reached out to Mayor Lightfoot. A representative underlined the city’s high priority on safety, commitment to bringing those arrested to justice, plans to assign more patrols to shopping areas, and pledge to work with residents – including property management companies – to prevent further looting and unrest.
Meanwhile, Englewood Branded this Saturday is hosting a giveaway of several dozen tennis shoes to kids in need as they return to virtual classes.