Puerto Rican museum archives center to be razed
New archives center will be replaced, residents applaud
A controversial archives center being built without permits for the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture in Chicago is set to be demolished to make way for a new one.
During a recent community meeting held at the museum in Humboldt Park, 26th Ward Alderperson Jessie Fuentes revealed that two parcels on the 2500 block of West Division Street are being evaluated as potential sites for the new archives center, Block Club reported.
The city had previously halted construction and filed a lawsuit against the museum and the Chicago Park District. The ongoing legal battle is scheduled to continue Nov. 2 in Cook County Circuit Court.
“I want us all to celebrate because community voice has been heard,” Fuentes said. “We have responded to your wants and needs.”
The decision comes more than a year after residents raised their concerns about the construction of a 1,500-square-foot cinder-block facility next to the museum, which had proceeded without proper city permits and approvals.
Billy Ocasio, the executive director of the museum and former Humboldt Park alderman, apologized to neighbors for concealing key details and misrepresenting the project to city and state officials.
Residents expressed their dissatisfaction with the lack of transparency surrounding the original plan. Fuentes emphasized the need for better communication and community input in future projects.
The decision to demolish the unfinished archive center was met with relief and enthusiasm among attendees at the community meeting. Plans for the new center are expected to include a sculpture garden and a glass-enclosed courtyard for year-round outdoor programming.
While specifics about the new archives center’s construction timeline and permits remain unclear, another community meeting will occur in the coming months to present renderings and gather feedback from residents.
— Quinn Donoghue