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Plans for future of Aurora's near east side become clearer
By Justin Kmitch | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 7/23/20 12:01 AM

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The city of Aurora has about $1.3 million in Community Development Block Grant funds and if near east side residents and business owners have their say, the city will use them to increase owner-occupied housing and bring in some health care centers.

Attendees voted with private hand-held devices Thursday during the third and final meeting held at the Fred Rodgers Community Center, 501 College Avenue, at which they worked with representatives from the Metropolitan Planning Council and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning to design the continued revitalization of their neighborhood.

Their suggestions will now be integrated into a final plan that will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in August.

Those who live, work and play in neighborhood, roughly bounded by Lake Street, Liberty Street, North Avenue, and East Avenue also said they really enjoy the cultural diversity of the neighborhood.

Thursday evening's session served as a wrap-up to the two previous conferences that discussed a vision for the area along with interactive exercises at which participants' ideas were discussed.

"The whole purpose of this exercise was to address the areas of need," Neighborhood Redevelopment Manager Karen Christensen said. "This is all about making sure we do the best we can with the funds available. This doesn't mean anything is going to happen overnight or even in the next year, but we're addressing the needs."

The neighborhood has been designated a Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area by HUD since 1999.

The program created by HUD aims to revitalize distressed community areas and is funded through Community Development Block Grant funds.

Those funds provides communities with resources to address a wide range of needs including affordable housing, services to people in need and job creation and retention.

At the kickoff event, attendees answered questions as to how they want their neighborhood to look, the needs they believe need to be met, and suggestions into its long term future.

The answers of all attendees were recorded electronically and were used during the second meeting with an MPC Developer Panel on June 29.

The members of the panel worked directly with the attendees to explain what was feasible from an economic development point of view including ideas for new housing, retail, and mixed use development.

Joanna Trotter, project manager with the Metropolitan Planning Council, told residents that they will likely be contacted by the city to participate in more focus groups as plans progress.