CHICAGO — Migrants could soon be transferred to a temporary shelter in West Fulton Market, which could help ease pressure on overcrowding police stations.
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s office hasn’t released details on how many asylum seekers could be moving to a five-story building on North Ogden Avenue.
But an association of Fulton Market residents and businesses said housing people there is illegal due to honing restrictions.
27th Ward Ald. Walter Burnett said the mayor’s office is looking to lease the five-story, 50,000-square-foot building at 344 N. Ogden West Fulton Market
Existing tenants in the building were told to vacate their units in the weeks ahead, according to those familiar with the potential agreement.
As City of Chicago agencies and Johnson struggle to deal with overcrowded police districts, where tensions remain high after altercations between police and migrants led to four arrests at the 12th district.
“All sites that have been identified as temporary shelters are ideal due to the large capacity they can serve,” the city said in a written statement. “The facility is in good condition and available for activation within a short timeframe. It is crucial to provide a safe, secure, temporary shelter for asylum-seekers to receive necessary services, while settling in Chicago with dignity.”
But not everyone is pleased with the West Fulton Market plan.
Roger Romanelli, who is with the Fulton Market Association, said the zoning laws are clear.
“No resident can live in this building under the current zoning,” Romanelli said. “Now if the mayor wants to have a discussion to change the zoning for the entire neighborhood, that is something our association will listen to.”
Romanelli, an urban planner, is arguing for a more centralized location for thousands of migrants who find themselves in Chicago after being brought here on a bus from Texas.
He is pointing to the Thompson Center, with easy access to rapid transit, as an ideal location to house the migrant populations.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported Johnson is looking at the possibility of temporary tent cities, winterized to withstand the cold, to house the migrants.
He has not said where the tent cities would be located.