CHICAGO (CBS) — In response to the changes to get the COVID vaccine at the United Center, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she wanted to make sure people from the city’s West Side, among other communities, got a chance to register for the COVID vaccine before suburban residents.
Over the weekend, there was confusion over signing up to get the COVID vaccine at the United Center, when on Sunday afternoon, it was decided only city of Chicago residents could sign up to get the vaccine at the arena.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Cooler Temperatures, Chance Of Snow On Tuesday
“As we study the data from the first couple of days, we were concerned about what we were seeing,” Lightfoot said. “There was a lot of discussions amongst all the partners at the federal level for FEMA, at the state level and at the county level, to make sure that this opportunity was one that was actually open to the people who were most in need, and that’s Black and Brown residents across our city.”
Last week, it was announced that Cook County residents and state of Illinois residents could sign up to get their shot at the United Center.
Mayor Lightfoot said on Twitter Sunday that more than 40,000 people over 65 have signed up for COVID-19 vaccines at the United Center, but fewer than 40% the appointments were actually made by Chicago residents.
“We wanted to also make sure that a United Center on the West Side, actually was being utilized by people in the city of Chicago, who also looked like the surrounding area,” Lightfoot said.
Health officials said appointments made by people who live outside the city will still be honored. But effective immediately, appointments through Zocdoc will be limited only to residents of the city of Chicago.
“We’re now opening that up to people with underlying conditions, but we wanted to also make sure that a United Center, on the West Side, actually was being utilized by people in the city of Chicago, who also looked like the surrounding area,” Lightfoot said.
She added there were discussions with the county, state and FEMA to give a broader opportunity for Chicago residents to sign up for the COVID vaccine.
“Over the course of the weekend, there were discussions when the decision was made to pivot,” Lightfoot said. “And make sure that the city of Chicago was getting the lion’s share of those appointments. And I feel like with the changes that were made, agreed to by all, that we’re going to be able to fulfill our mission and focus which is on equitable distribution of this life saving vaccine.”
For those in suburban Cook County, appointments at the United Center will be made available in the coming days. Officials said details of that registration process will be revealed later this week.
“Equity has always been the guiding light for our vaccine rollout,” Lightfoot said on Twitter. “And to ensure that remains our priority, we’ve partnered with the State of Illinois and Cook County to have Chicago residents who are 18+ with underlying conditions become eligible to make vaccination appointments.”
Starting at 4 p.m. on Sunday, the appointment pool at the United Center site extended to those 16 and older with medical conditions. On Saturday, CBS 2’s Steven Graves reported some people trying to sign up for vaccine appointments at the United Center ran into glitches.
Also Monday, the mayor and other city leaders unveiled the anticipated list of three winning proposals for the INVEST South/West development program, designed to bring investment into the city’s South Side and West Side.
The development projects were selected from 12 applications to Requests for Proposals (RFPs) from last fall for Austin, Auburn Gresham and Englewood.READ MORE: 7-Year-Old Girl Killed, Father Injured In Shooting At McDonald's Drive-Thru In Homan Square
“Initiatives such as INVEST South/West are critical in advancing our goal to enhance the socioeconomic vibrancy of our historic South and West Sides,” Lightfoot said. “Each of these winning proposals will contribute to this goal by giving residents access to new and exciting cultural, affordable housing, employment resources.”
The mayor said the investment projects are a long time coming and the reuse of buildings in these neighborhoods is an important factor in bringing opportunities to those communities.
“We are awakening the sleeping beauties of the former Laramie bank building in Austin, and Green Street fire station in Englewood,” Lightfoot said. “Once completed, each of these incredible projects will create jobs, strengthen their neighborhoods and unlock the full potential of their communities. What we were intentional about making sure is that these investments would be force multipliers in these communities.”
At the beginning of the announcement in the creation of the INVEST South/West initiative, the amount provided by the city was $750 million over three years. Mayor Lightfoot said the city is still working on getting more money to the communities.
“I believe our number, even with the pandemic is about, about 70. So we’ve got a little ground to make up. But as I said I think the great thing about it is that we’ve drawn so far about $300 million in private capital, but clearly more work to be done. And we’ve got a whole timeline of work that we’re going to be announcing later on this spring so I’m excited about that,” Lightfoot said.
According to the city, the three winning proposals are:
*Austin United Alliance (Austin/5200 W. Chicago Ave.) Planned for the former Laramie Bank building and approximately 20,000 square feet of adjacent land, the proposed $37.5 million project will renovate the landmark structure with commercial uses that include a blues museum, bank branch, café, and business incubator.
The adjacent land will be redeveloped with a mixed-income, multi-story rental building that includes a green roof, public plaza, social spaces, and outdoor art. The project is expected to generate up to 150 construction jobs and 22 full-time positions.
*Evergreen Imagine JV LLC (Auburn Gresham/838 W. 79th St.) Planned for 23,000 square-feet of vacant land near the intersection of Halsted and 79th streets, the approximately $19.4 million proposed project will create 56 units of affordable housing with ancillary ground floor retail uses and 35 parking spaces.
Designed to complement the planned, Chicago Prize-winning “Healthy Hub” adaptive re-use project across the street, the complex will include private garden lots, a playground for residents, private amenities, and public open spaces. The project is expected to generate up to 100 construction jobs and three full-time positions.
*Englewood Connect (Englewood/800 block of West 63rd Parkway) Planned as the second phase of the Englewood Square shopping center, Englewood Connect is a $10.3 million, “eco-food hub” that will establish culinary-related uses that empower, employ and feed local residents.
The project will adaptively reuse the landmark Green Street fire station as a commercial kitchen, establish a business incubator to train start-up businesses, create an community “living room” for local events, and repurpose vacant land with hoop houses that provide year-round farming operations.
A public plaza will serve as its focal point. Later phases will include a flexible market space and an event center. The project is expected to generate approximately 80 construction jobs and 45 permanent full-time positions.MORE NEWS: 3 Killed, At Least 3 Wounded In Kenosha County Bar Shooting; Person Of Interest Located