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Decades after the Racine Green Line station closed, Englewood activists renewed their push for reopening

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Evangeline Fraise grew up two blocks from the Racine Green Line CTA station in Inglewood. She remembers stops that meant “everything” to herself and her neighbors.

At the station, there were shops selling all sorts of goods, including snacks and comic books. There was a record store nearby and a grocery store where I could buy milk and bread on the way home. Racine Station served as a “black business hub,” she said.

“While it was open, it really helped the economy,” Fries said. “It kind of supported the neighborhood.”

However, in January 1994, the Green Line was closed for major reconstruction. Two years later, other stations reopened, but not Racine station.

Now there is a new impetus to open it, called “Green Light the Green Line”.

After years of talks with city and federal officials, Inglewood organizers put a referendum on the ballot for the Feb. 28 election and submitted a petition asking residents whether they wanted the station reopened. Distributing. Organizers hope to collect at least 1,600 signatures before Monday’s petition deadline.

The referendum doesn’t force the CTA to do anything, but residents hope overwhelming support will put pressure on the city.

The 63rd and Racine Green Line stations at 6314-16 South Racine Avenue in the Inglewood neighborhood have been closed to patrons since 1994.

The 63rd and Racine Green Line stations at 6314-16 South Racine Avenue in the Inglewood neighborhood have been closed to patrons since 1994.

Tyler Paciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

When it announced in 1994 that the Racine station would remain closed, CTA officials said they could not afford to keep their promise to reopen all stations. State Senator Ricky Hendon called the decision “slap in the face” and racist.

In a statement to the Sun-Times on Wednesday, CTA officials cited lower passenger numbers on the Racine as a factor.

When Fraise returned to her childhood home about 20 years ago, she began distributing petitions to reopen her beloved station. Her inhabitants supported her, but her efforts had no effect.

“It’s a lack of investment and that’s why a lot of people moved,” Fraise said. “It’s all about the convenience of having a walkable neighborhood.”

An agreement between the CTA and the Illinois Department of Historic Preservation prevented demolition of the station and determined that the station was eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, but was never actually placed there. did.

But for now, the 63rd Street and Racine Avenue stations have been abandoned, leaving an eight-block gap between Halstead and Ashland/63rd Street (the last two stops on the Green Line).

The Green Line station at Racine Avenue and 63rd Street in the Inglewood neighborhood on November 21, 2022.

The Green Line station at Racine Avenue and 63rd Street in the Inglewood neighborhood has been closed to patrons since 1994. The CTA says reopening the station will cost about $100 million. and/or historic preservation efforts. ”

Tyler Pasiak Larivière/Suntime

Fraise, now 62, hopes the referendum will be more successful than the original petition.

Asiaha Butler, executive director of RAGE, the association of residents of Greater Inglewood, hopes the referendum shows residents of the 16th Ward overwhelmingly want the station back .

Butler said in calls with the CTA and city officials that he did not receive any actual endorsements. According to Butler, CTA leaders were open to the idea, but they weren’t funded by the current budget.

“Rather than saying, ‘OK, I’ll look into that,’ it was more like, ‘Where is the funding coming from?'” Butler said. “I can’t say that I felt they would definitely back us up. I think that’s why we petition and referendum.”

In a statement, the CTA said it could not reopen Racine station as is. It will require major updates, including new platforms, staircases and elevators, but everything is complicated by the need to preserve the historic building. The total cost is about $100 million, but the CTA said it didn’t have the funding. However, the agency added, “We are discussing options with the community as part of our overall plan for revitalizing the area.”

The mayor’s office and the Chicago Department of Planning and Development did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The area around the long-closed CTA Green Line station at Racine Avenue and 63rd Street was once bustling with business. There is also hope that reopening the stop will help revive the neighborhood.

The area around the long-closed CTA Green Line station at Racine Avenue and 63rd Street was once bustling with business. There is also hope that reopening the stop will help revive the neighborhood.

Tyler Pasiak Larivière/Suntime

Butler hopes the referendum result will give grassroots organizations advocating reopening “more ammunition” and encourage cities to help defend federal funds.

Butler said they were told by federal officials they could allocate $60 million in federal funding for reopening, but CTA, state and city leaders had to agree. .

To move ahead with reopening, the city will need to work with grassroots organizations to lobby for federal funding.

But the effort is worth it, Butler said. When the stop reopens, it will bring much-needed business to his 63rd Street corridor, making it easier for residents to commute downtown and elsewhere.

“As you know, many communities have reopened L-stops,” says Fraise. “They have spent millions of dollars refurbishing other L stations, but our station has been neglected until now. , passed away or moved away, so that’s heartbreaking for me.”

Mariah Rush is a staff reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times. Reporting to Americaa non-profit journalism program aimed at enhancing the coverage of the paper in communities in the South and West.

Inglewood's Green Line Racine station closed in 1994.

Inglewood’s Green Line Racine stop, which closed in 1994, “cannot simply ‘reopen’ in its current state,” the CTA said in a statement to The Sun-Times. It complies with building code requirements and lacks operational infrastructure such as fare equipment, digital information screens, security he cameras, modern communications equipment and other necessary items. ”

Tyler Pasiak Larivière/Suntime


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Written by Natalia Chi

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