Somewhere among the ugly rubble, twisted metal, dirt and debris of what was once a bank building in Harvey, state Rep. Will Davis once had an office.
The Democratic legislator moved into that office in his first term in 2003. He said the office had some good memories from his three years there that he will cherish.
As Davis surveyed the wreckage from the torn-down building Friday after a groundbreaking ceremony for the Harvey Lofts development at 154th Street and Broadway Avenue, he didn’t let sentiment get in the way of progress.
Asked if there was any sadness the bank and office are gone, he said “considering what’s coming, absolutely not.”
“It’s OK to say it was there,” said Davis, who as born and raised in Harvey. “Sometimes it’s leaving the past behind and embarking with what’s in front of you.”
What’s in front of the community is what officials hope will be the centerpiece of an area that’s going to lead to more businesses and development.
The $19 million private project will include a 51-unit residential complex near the south suburban region’s transportation hub.
Officials hope the location near the Harvey Transportation Center will provide convenient access for working residents to Pace buses and Metra Electric, and that it will contribute to a harmonious fusion of modern living and urban connectivity. The hope is that after the full clearing of the bank building, the Lofts will be built and open sometime in 2024.
“I stand with great pride to announce that Harvey stands resolutely open for business,” said Harvey Mayor Christopher J. Clark. “We are witnessing a remarkable transformation as our city embraces various economic developments and sets the stage for a prosperous future.”
The mayor ticked off a list of recent projects including the opening of a new car wash and replacing 160,000 linear feet of sewer on the west side of town.
He said the renovation of the Sibley Metra station, a repaving of Dixie Highway, the beginning of the reconstruction of Wood Street, an investment in senior housing and a unified transit station are also vital to the town’s growth.
The Harvey Lofts development is a huge part of the improvements and Clark said that it’s “set to reshape Harvey’s landscape.”
He said it’s a catalyst to increase revenue and enhance services for the community.
“We firmly believe that these positive outcomes will play a pivotal role in mitigating property tax burdens for Harvey property owners,” Clark said. “The transformative project is more than just about bricks and mortar. It represents a beacon of hope for the progress for every resident of Harvey.”
Davis said he wants to see Harvey become a world-class city and a spotlight community in the south suburbs and the state. He said he hopes the Lofts will bring more businesses to town.
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“We want to bring in businesses that people want to patronize,” Davis said. “The coffee shops, the sandwich shops, the dry cleaners, bakeries … all of the things that we travel to other communities for.”
Davis said these potential improvements could bring back the days of when he was growing up in town.
“There will be ups and downs,” he said. “But we all have one common goal and we’re going to work hard to try to get there.”
Fifth District Cook County Board member Monica Gordon was also on hand and stressed the importance of Harvey’s improvements.
“I am very excited for what’s going on,” she said. “Harvey is definitely the center of the Southland. When we talk about building up the Southland, we talk about economic development.
“We talk about building a stronger Southland and we have to build a stronger Harvey.”
Jeff Vorva is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.