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After compromise with local alderman, City Council OKs plan for migrant tent camp in Morgan Park

CHICAGO (CBS) -- After Mayor Brandon Johnson agreed to a compromise with Ald. Ronnie Mosley (21st) over plans for a migrant tent camp in his ward, the City Council on Tuesday approved plans to purchase a vacant Jewel store and parking lot to house the encampment.

With Mosley reversing his earlier opposition to the plan, aldermen overwhelmingly approved a proposal to have the city purchase a 6.5-acre site at 115th and Halsted Streets from Jewel parent company Albertson's for $1 to use the site to set up a so-called "base camp" of winterized tents for up to 1,400 asylum seekers.

Mosley had convinced colleagues on the City Council to delay final approval of the plan last week, had criticized the Johnson administration for moving forward with a migrant camp in his ward despite concerns from his community. The site had already been earmarked to become Morgan Park Commons – a  development of housing, retail, and park space – and Mosley said his constituents feared what the migrant tent plan would mean for the fate of that project.

The state of Illinois set aside $15 million for that project. After talking with Mosley in recent days, Johnson agreed to add a provision to the migrant tent camp plan that would guarantee the site could not be used for a migrant tent camp beyond Oct. 31, 2024.

"I'm looking to the future, a future that includes Morgan Park Commons that is a regional development project, that is going to be a catalyst for my ward," Mosley said. "I'm good with this, and I ask my colleagues to support it."

Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38th), who was among those who originally objected to approving the migrant tent camp plan last week, applauded Johnson for working out a compromise with Mosley.

"We talk about working together. Here's a perfect example. You could have steamrolled him as a freshman alderman, but you chose not to do that, and worked this out. So I commend him and you for working this out," he said.

Johnson administration officials have yet to say how soon construction could begin at a migrant tent camp at 115th and Halsted.

The city is also planning to open another tent camp for migrants in the Brighton Park neighborhood, at the corner of 38th and California. A group of neighbors has filed a lawsuit seeking to block the Brighton Park site from being used to house migrants.

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