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Elzie Higginbottom

Housing developer Elzie L. Higginbottom was born on November 24, 1941 in Chicago, Illinois to Elzie Higginbottom and Katherine Skaggs Higginbottom. His parents instilled entrepreneurial and service values within him. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1965 with his B.A. in agricultural economics and was an accomplished athlete in men’s track and field. In 1963, he was named NCAA outdoor All-American, placing fifth in the 440 yard dash in national competition. He also won Big Ten indoor titles in the 440. Higginbottom was a three time Big Ten champion, anchoring the mile relay to a conference title in 1962. He also held the University of Wisconsin-Madison records in the indoor and outdoor 440 yard dash for more than twenty years. Higginbottom was later honored by the university with the distinguished alumni award. All of his success as a track athlete taught him how to focus and discipline himself, which proved invaluable in his real estate endeavors.

Higginbottom was hired by Baird & Warner in Chicago, Illinois. While at Baird & Warner, he created and directed the Government Assisted Multifamily Finance Division, producing an annual loan volume of $50 million to $100 million for twelve consecutive years. By 1974, Higginbottom was promoted to mortgage vice president in charge of FHA financing. In 1983, Higginbottom left Baird & Warner and started East Lake Management & Development Corp., which grew to become the largest minority-owned real estate company in the State of Illinois. Mr. Higginbottom is committed to providing affordable, safe and comfortable housing to Chicagoans. He is also the first minority developer of hi-rises in the Chicago Loop and River North area including 200 N. Dearborn and 1250 N. LaSalle Street. He has developed and managed several thousand units for his own company as well as for the Chicago Housing Authority and others.

In 2005, Higginbottom made Crain’s Chicago Business list of “Who’s Who in Real Estate.” In 2000, he was inducted into the Chicago Association of Realtors Hall of Fame and is the only African-American to receive that honor. In 2004 he endowed the Higginbottom Urgent Care for Kids Unit at Mercy Hospital. Wanting to inspire young athletes, Higginbottom and Dr. Conrad Worril co-founded Friends of Track and Field in 2006. He is a board member for After School Matters in Chicago and a Trustee for Illinois Institute of Technology. He is married to Deborah Larsen and they have four children.

Elzie Higginbottom, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 17, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.030

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/17/2012

Last Name

Higginbottom

Maker Category
Schools

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Charles Gavin School

Washington Junior High School

Bloom High School

First Name

Elzie

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

HIG05

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

Patience Is The Smart Thing To Do. Without Patience, You Will Never Be Successful In Business.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

11/24/1941

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Hot Dogs

Short Description

Real estate developer Elzie Higginbottom (1941 - ) was the chairman and CEO of East Lake Management and Development Corporation, the largest minority-owned real estate company in Illinois.

Employment

Baird & Warner

ELH Properties

East Lake Management & Development Corp.

Morgan Park Laundromat

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Elzie Higginbottom's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Elzie Higginbottom lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Elzie Higginbottom describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Elzie Higginbottom talks about his mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Elzie Higginbottom describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Elzie Higginbottom talks about his father's education and profession

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Elzie Higginbottom recalls how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Elzie Higginbottom describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Elzie Higginbottom describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Elzie Higginbottom talks about his parents' occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Elzie Higginbottom remembers working at his father's store in Chicago Heights, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Elzie Higginbottom describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Elzie Higginbottom describes his community in Chicago Heights, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Elzie Higginbottom remembers working for his father

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Elzie Higginbottom recalls travelling around the Chicagoland area in his youth

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Elzie Higginbottom describes his early schooling in Chicago Heights, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Elzie Higginbottom talks about Bloom Township High School in Chicago Heights, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Elzie Higginbottom describes his early religious experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Elzie Higginbottom talks about his track career at Bloom Township High School

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Elzie Higginbottom remembers his high school track coach

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Elzie Higginbottom remembers the diverse community at Bloom Township High School in Chicago Heights, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Elzie Higginbottom talks about the Gavin family of Chicago Heights, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Elzie Higginbottom describes the Morgan Park Laundromat in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Elzie Higginbottom recalls his track and field state championships

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Elzie Higginbottom describes his decision to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Madison, Wisconsin

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Elzie Higginbottom remembers his parents' political ideologies

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Elzie Higginbottom recalls his experiences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Elzie Higginbottom remembers his track career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Elzie Higginbottom talks about the 1963 Rose Bowl

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Elzie Higginbottom describes how he came to work for Baird and Warner in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Elzie Higginbottom describes his role at Baird and Warner in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Elzie Higginbottom describes his role at Baird and Warner in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Elzie Higginbottom talks about the high rise housing projects in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Elzie Higginbottom recalls his early real estate developments

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Elzie Higginbottom talks about the deterioration of Chicago's South Side communities

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Elzie Higginbottom recalls Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s time in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Elzie Higginbottom remembers the riots of 1968 in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Elzie Higginbottom talks about East Lake Management and Development Corp.'s early developments

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Elzie Higginbottom remembers the influential African American businessmen of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Elzie Higginbottom talks about Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley's administration

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Elzie Higginbottom describes the evolution of public housing in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Elzie Higginbottom talks about the integration of neighborhoods in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Elzie Higginbottom recalls the mayoral administration of Harold Washington

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Elzie Higginbottom describes East Lake Management and Development Corp. in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Elzie Higginbottom talks about East Lake Management and Development Corp.'s properties

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Elzie Higginbottom describes the African American construction and retail industries

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Elzie Higginbottom talks about the education of entrepreneurialism

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Elzie Higginbottom describes the Harold Washington Cultural Center in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Elzie Higginbottom talks about the demolition of the Regal Theater in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Elzie Higginbottom talks about the demolition of the Regal Theater in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Elzie Higginbottom describes Chicago's African American residents' migration to the neighboring suburbs

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Elzie Higginbottom talks about his corporate board affiliations

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Elzie Higginbottom describes the Supreme Life Building in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Elzie Higginbottom talks about the Illinois Gaming Board

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Elzie Higginbottom talks about the redevelopment of the South Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Elzie Higginbottom lists his redevelopment projects on Chicago's South Side

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Elzie Higginbottom talks about housing code violations

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Elzie Higginbottom talks about the state of Chicago's African American businesses

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Elzie Higginbottom describes the Friends of Track and Field organization

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Elzie Higginbottom describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Elzie Higginbottom reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Elzie Higginbottom talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Elzie Higginbottom describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

1$5

DATitle
Elzie Higginbottom describes his role at Baird and Warner in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1
Elzie Higginbottom describes East Lake Management and Development Corp. in Chicago, Illinois
Transcript
So, Baird and Warner [Chicago, Illinois]. Now, how did you--were you the first black person to work for Baird and Warner?$$Well, they had another fellow that was, he was kind of a rent collector, because they had a--his name was Evans Waters [ph.]. And they had a Hyde Park [Chicago, Illinois] office, and he used to collect some rents on the South Side for them. But I was probably the first black person that worked for Baird and Warner that was moving into the management capacity. And I can remember that back then I would go to some of the suburban offices, because I worked in the real estate finance department. He assigned me to the real estate finance department, and they assigned me to an appraiser, and so we were doing appraisals. And I would go out to some of the Baird and Warner offices, and when I'd walk in the office they'd look at me like, "What are you doing here?" And I'd say, "Well, you know, Mr. Baird [John W. Baird] sent me here." And then all the doors came down, (laughter) and they'd give me anything I wanted. So, I said, "Well, this works pretty good." So, I used that a lot. And I learned a lot. And then I worked there for the summer and then I came back because I enjoyed it, and I think they were happy with the product that I was giving them. I came back and worked between my--right at the end of my senior year [at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin]. I went nine semesters, so I worked between my ninth semester and my eighth semester. And I--then they offered me a job as a, in property management. So, I said, you know, "I think's that's good." But they weren't quite ready for it, so I worked in the real estate finance department for a while, and I did some more appraisal work. And I went out to a house--it's very interesting. I went out to a house in Alsip, Illinois to appraise a house. And this is when corporations would buy the executive's house and transfer them someplace. And when I went out to appraise this house, I got back to the office and John Baird said--he called me in his office and he says, "What did you do out there?" And I said, "I just went and appraised the house." And he said, "Who was there?" And I told him, "The guy's wife was there. It was an executive. The gentleman's wife was there. And I went through and looked at it, and appraised the house." And he says, "Yeah, you know, I got a phone call." And I said, "Well, what did the phone call say?" He says, "Well, they said, 'Why did you send a black person out to appraise this house?'" And I looked at him and I said, "Well, what did you say?" And he says, "Well, I asked him, I said, 'Don't you sell a little beer on the South Side of Chicago [Illinois]?'" And I said, "What did he say?" And he said, "Well, the guy didn't say anything. He said, 'Thank you,' and he hung up." But the case was, is that that's the kind of person John Baird was. John didn't see anything wrong with me appraising a house in Alsip, because they sold Anheuser--it was Budweiser [Anheuser-Busch Companies]--they sold beer on the South Side, so why couldn't, why shouldn't I appraise that house? And that's the kind of person he was. He was a good person, and he was a mentor. And, you know, I still say today that John is largely responsible for the success that I've enjoyed. He's in the high nineties now. He's ninety-seven or ninety-eight, and he and I became partners in real estate deals, and he's a person that I have a great deal of respect for. And he's been in a number of, he's been in a number of organizations that have really fostered integration and a lot more cooperation between the races. He's in the Chicago area, and he's just a tremendous person. He's a good person; he's been good for me, good to me. And then I left the real estate finance department and I went to work in the management department. And one of my first jobs--and he really didn't hire me for it--was to be the property management at the development across the street which is called South Commons [Chicago, Illinois], which McHugh-Levin [McHugh-Levin Associates, Chicago, Illinois] did back--the Community Renewal Society [Chicago, Illinois] owned the land, and McHugh-Levin did that. And I--that didn't, it didn't work very well for a number of reasons. But then I asked him to transfer me back to the real estate finance department, department, because, as I said, it was--it had to do with numbers and math, and I liked that.$Can you kind of walk us through like what, what you did I guess with East Lake Management [East Lake Management and Development Corp., Chicago, Illinois], you know, in the '80s [1980s]. What you were able to achieve and what your goals and objectives were?$$Well, you know, now there's a good--there is a good example of developing--of a lack of opportunity and developing a process by which you develop an opportunity. Because there was not a lot of opportunity for me to manage properties back then, because they weren't necessarily owned by minorities, what I did was I began to develop my own properties. So, I acquired properties and I managed those properties. So, now what has happened is I've created an opportunity for myself, and I've provided a process by which I can expand East Lake Management's business. East Lake Management did not start off as a company that was managing third party properties. East Lake Management started off as a company that was managing properties that I or some of my partnerships owned and developed. Now, as a result of my background in financing, I was able to go out and acquire properties because I knew how to get them fi- get them financed. I would acquire those properties, rehabilitate those properties, and then bring them into my portfolio, or bring in partnership partners and put them in that portfolio. And then that gave me a basis, or a foundation of business that helps me meet my overhead on a continued and constant basis. Then I did development, and development is very cyclical, it's up and it's down. Right now, the development is down because there's a surplus of housing. So, I would do development whenever the opportunity presented itself. I was not, I was not a single focused company. I focused in two or three different directions. We got into the construction business because we were developing properties in the inner city where people, where we could not find competitive construction prices. And I learned this basically throughout my entire career, or throughout my entire life, by looking at my dad [Elzie Higginbottom] looking for opportunities to do business, and then bringing the business to that opportunity. And then what happened was, as time went by, I learned that there were places where other people were not willing to go, and I'd go there. I'm in the construction business because I couldn't find contractors to come into the inner city and give me competitive prices, so I developed a vehicle by which I could do that, a process. Now, that construction business has to have an opportunity, so as I developed a property I'd give them the opportunity to bid on it. Now, we're doing third party business, because people see that we can perform, so then we're able to go out and do third party business. And this is the same thing that I say to young people in the African American community today. There is a tremendous amount of opportunity in the community from which you come. You must be able to figure out how to access that community, you must be diligent, and you must be patient. Because you can't build a business in a week. You can't build a business in a day. I've been doing this for more than forty years with the same destination. If I worked at, when I worked at Baird and Warner [Chicago, Illinois], I had the same destination. When I'm working for East Lake Management, I have the same destination. So, for my entire, entire career, I had a destination of building an institution. Because now what happens is once you build an institution, if I'm no longer there, that institution runs. That makes an opportunity for other people to come in that institution and work, or come in that institution and take it to a higher level.$$Okay. Now, there's a--you did a tremendous amount of development for the Chicago Housing Authority I believe, right? Could you--$$Yeah, I did, we did one development, Rockwell Gardens [Chicago, Illinois]. We're doing one development as part of the transformation. We manage about thirty-five hundred units for Chicago Housing Authority; that's part of our third party business. But had I not been able to develop a track record of managing properties of my own, then I would not have had that opportunity. So, I had to create a system by which I could have an opportunity to get another opportunity. And the system was I'd buy buildings, I'd manage them when I purchased them, my management had an opportunity. And then I, now I can manage third party properties.

Vincent Lane

Real estate executive and real estate developer Vincent Lane was born on March 29, 1942 in West Point, Mississippi to Doyle Lane and Bertha Lee. He grew up on the southside of Chicago and graduated from Tilden Technical High School in 1960. Lane earned his B.S. degree in business administration from Roosevelt University in 1968. After earning his undergraduate degree, he worked in the accounting departments of several companies including Mt. Sinai Hospital, International Harvester and U.S. Steel. Lane received his M.B.A degree from the University of Chicago in 1973.

After completing his education, Lane became senior vice president of the Woodlawn Community Development Corporation (WCDC). In 1976, Lane served as the president and general manager of Urban Services and Development, Inc. and LSM Venture Associates housing management companies. In 1988, Lane was appointed by managing director and chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). As chairman, he re-organized the CHA creating new programs such as the Chicago Housing Authority Police Department and Operation Clean Sweep. In 1991, Lane became president of American Community Housing Associates, Inc. Lane resigned from the CHA in 1995 after serving seven years as chairman. From 1997 to 2002, Lane served as president of Affordable Community Housing Advocate, LLC. In 2004, Lane became CFO of Woodlawn Community Development Corporation and since 2006, he has been a consultant responsible for the management of WCDC's real estate development program.

Lane has served on the boards of several organizations including the Corporation for Supportive Housing, National Historic Trust, Women's Treatment Center, Urban Land Institute and Roosevelt University. He received much recognition for his work in affordable housing development including the Regional Award for Minority Developer of the Year from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Distinguished Public Service Award from the Anti-Defamation League and the Visionary Award from the Boys and Girls Club. Lane is married to Rita Denise Vargas and has three adult children Vincent, Steven and Craig.

Vincent Lane was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 18, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.015

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/18/2012

Last Name

Lane

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Roosevelt University

University of Chicago

Edward Tilden Career Community Academy High School

Robert S. Abbott Elementary School

First Name

Vincent

Birth City, State, Country

West Point

HM ID

LAN07

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

Keep Putting One Foot In Front Of The Other.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

3/29/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Greens (Turnip)

Short Description

Real estate executive and real estate developer Vincent Lane (1942 - ) served as chairman of the Chicago Housing from 1988 and 1995. He has been president of the American Community Housing Associates, Inc. and CFO of the Woodlawn Community Development Corporation.

Employment

United States Immigration and Naturalization Service

Urban Services and Development, INC

LSM Venture Associates

Chicago Housing Authority

Woodlawn Community Development Corporation

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Vincent Lane's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Vincent Lane lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Vincent Lane recalls his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Vincent Lane talks about his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Vincent Lane reflects on the land his family owned in Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Vincent Lane talks about his mother and Mary Holmes School in West Point, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Vincent Lane talks about his mother's feelings on race and his memories of visiting Mississippi in the summers

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Vincent Lane talks about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Vincent Lane talks about the Bryan family in West Point, Mississippi and his father

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Vincent Lane talks about how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Vincent Lane talks about his family church in West Point, Mississippi and his family's move to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Vincent Lane talks about his family's businesses

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Vincent Lane describes about his earliest childhood memory, playing hooky from school

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Vincent Lane lists about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Vincent Lane talks about growing up near Bridgeport in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Vincent Lane recalls baseball at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Vincent Lane talks about the Back of the Yards and Bronzeville neighborhoods in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Vincent Lane talks about urban renewal and Chicago, Illinois' State Street Corridor

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Vincent Lane talks about his recollections of black political power in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Vincent Lane talks about his high school interest in engineering

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Vincent Lane recalls working at Immigration and Naturalization Service while attending the University of Illinois at Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Vincent Lane comments on changes in public housing policy and residents in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Vincent Lane recalls life on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Vincent Lane recalls life on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Vincent Lane recalls his decision to major in accounting at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Vincent Lane talks about his work during college and starting a small business

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Vincent Lane talks about black businessmen in Chicago including HistoryMaker Lester McKeever

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Vincent Lane talks about his jobs after graduating from Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Vincent Lane talks about his work at Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Vincent Lane talks about being unable to advance while working at International Harvester

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Vincent Lane recalls the 1968 riots in Chicago, Illinois following the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Vincent Lane recalls Mount Sinai Hospital's role in responding to the 1968 riots on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Vincent Lane talks about working at Tuesday magazine, and later The Woodlawn Organization

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Vincent Lane talks about working for The Woodlawn Organization

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Vincent Lane talks about intentional fires in the Woodlawn neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Vincent Lane talks about the Woodlawn neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois and The Woodlawn Organization

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Vincent Lane talks about black neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Vincent Lane talks about his mother's bar on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Vincent Lane talks about The Woodlawn Organization's relationship to the University of Chicago

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Vincent Lane talks about gentrification in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Vincent Lane comments on the demolition of public housing high rises and the administration of housing vouchers

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Vincent Lane recalls earning his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago and starting Urban Services and Development, Inc. and LSM Venture Associates

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Vincent Lane talks about multi-family housing units he developed

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Vincent Lane talks about project-based section 8 housing

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Vincent Lane talks about how Seventh Day Adventists were involved in his development projects

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Vincent Lane talks about how he was able to finance his development projects

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Vincent Lane talks about HistoryMaker Renault Robinson and getting involved with the Metropolitan Planning Council

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Vincent Lane comments on flaws he saw with public housing policy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Vincent Lane talks about the effects of the Brooke Amendment and the Chicago Housing Authority's neglect of public housing residents

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Vincent Lane talks about changes he made as chair of the Chicago Housing Authority

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Vincent Lane talks about the lack of policing in public housing in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Vincent Lane describes how he set up a police force for the Chicago Housing Authority

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Vincent Lane talks about the origins of Operation Clean Sweep

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Vincent Lane gives an outline of how he conducted Operation Clean Sweep

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Vincent Lane talks about the objectives of Operation Clean Sweep

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Vincent Lane talks about how residents reacted to the presence of those conducting Operation Clean Sweep after the first raid

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Vincent Lane talks about changes in Chicago public housing after Operation Clean Sweep

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Vincent Lane offers justifications for Operation Clean Sweep

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Vincent Lane talks about the flow of federal money to the Chicago Housing Authority

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Vincent Lane talks about HistoryMaker Renault Robinson and former Chicago Housing Authority Police Commander Leroy O'Shield

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Vincent Lane describes the composition of Chicago public housing and taking his tactics to other cities

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Vincent Lane talks about reductions in the murder rate in Chicago public housing after Operation Clean Sweep

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Vincent Lane talks about Hope VI and his efforts to reconfigure public housing

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Vincent Lane comments on problems he sees with development requirements set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Vincent Lane talks about the American Community Housing Association

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Vincent Lane recalls leaving the Chicago Housing Authority in 1995

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Vincent Lane talks about events of 1994 and his decision to resign from Chicago Housing Authority

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Vincent Lane reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Vincent Lane talks about the circumstances that led to his indictment in 2001

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Vincent Lane talks about the toll of being indicted and convicted

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Vincent Lane reflects upon his career in public housing

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Vincent Lane talks about reducing the staff of Chicago Housing Authority

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Vincent Lane describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Vincent Lane talks about his future plans

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Vincent Lane explains how he became chairman of Chicago Housing Authority

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Vincent Lane talks about the people who represented the interests of Chicago Housing Authority residents during his tenure as chairman of the CHA

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Vincent Lane considers what he would have done differently in his career

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Vincent Lane talks about his family

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Vincent Lane describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Vincent Lane narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$7

DAStory

8$4

DATitle
Vincent Lane talks about urban renewal and Chicago, Illinois' State Street Corridor
Vincent Lane talks about the origins of Operation Clean Sweep
Transcript
Okay, okay, now, did you have a--did you like to play sports when you were growing up?$$Yeah, I played little league baseball. We played at the field across, right around Federal Street. The old Armour Institute [of Technology, Chicago, Illinois]. It's still there. It's an old, dark red building. And it was--it's still, I think, part of IIT [Illinois Institute of Technology, Chciago, Illinois], but they had a huge field there. And we would play our little league games at that location. And, of course, it's not there anymore because Mayor [Richard J.] Daley and President [Dwight D.] Eisenhower hooked up the Dan Ryan to the Interstate [Highway] System. And that's when this big urban renewal program took effect.$$Now, this is something that's really important, and it would be important to everybody, but especially to you with your future, you know, career being, you know, so closely aligned with the Chicago Housing [Authority] and all that. What did you think when you--what are your reflections of urban renewal and the redevelopment of that whole State Street corridor from being what they used to call the Black Belt with the tenements to housing projects?$$Well, it--$$You actually were here to see all of it, right?$$I actually was here to see all of it. Of course, my mother [Bertha Spraggins Lane] and father [Doyle Lane] were not political at all. I mean they just were working and trying to, living over the drugstore at 37th. And my mother worked occasionally. Of course, my father worked every day. But I remember during a period right after the war, I mean World War II [WWII], that we were, the country was involved in some tough times. And I had to--and my brothers, had to go to 35th and State Street, just north of 35th Street to get this potatoes, you know, like out of the box or bag at that time, butter, eggs. And so I remember the lines up there, people going to get these staples. Of course, you know, my parents had money and worked, but, you know, it was--I think the government just gave it to you. And that stretch, State Street and Wabash and Wentworth and Princeton, these old buildings--now, they had already torn down a lot of the tenements to build Wentworth Gardens. But in that block where I lived on the corner, and going South to White Sox Park, a lot of old, old buildings, apartment buildings, cold-water flats. I thought that--I was envious of the people who lived in Wentworth Gardens at the time because they had, you know, the steam heat from the piping that's run under Wentworth Gardens. They had bedrooms upstairs and they got yards. And, you know, my second-story flat, we would get together and, no grass, anywhere. And the pool hall on the other side of the building, the drugstore, and then we had the pool hall (laughter). And it was right over our apartment, so I was--always, something going on at the pool hall. And we would go into the back, and we would hang up a bushel basket, and we would play basketball and, or we would go a block away and play at the playground over at [Robert S.] Abbott [Elementary School, Chicago, Illinois], football and baseball over at Armour Square. So it was, it was that, almost end of the tenement, the real gutsy 1920s tenement era. But we still had a lot of buildings that were run down. That building that I lived in never had central heat, never until--and it never did have it because once they did start acquiring the tract for the Dan Ryan, all of that went down.$There's a step before the police department that I wanted to mention too, and that was the Operation Clean Sweep?$$Yeah.$$Now, what was--how did that come about and what was it?$$Well, in, I think within a month of my becoming chairman of the [Chicago] Housing Authority [CHA]--$$This was '88 [1988], yeah.$$In '88 [1988], I got a call one day from Nancy Jefferson who was a community activist on the West Side.$$She's probably one of the revered community activists in the city. She's almost sainted by people, Nancy Jefferson.$$I developed a close relationship with Nancy, and she said--and I didn't know at that time well. I knew of her, but she says, "Vince, you've just gotta do something. The gangbangers just burned, severely burned a little girl in Rockwell Gardens." And, of course, you know, I was full of energy and vigor to take on this. And so I got over to Rockwell Gardens, and sure enough, the gangbangers were trying to torch somebody's apartment that they had a grudge against. And he, they picked the wrong apartment. And they firebombed the apartment where this little girl was severely burned. And that really just set me off. I just, I said, how can we think about fixing the elevators and fixing sinks if, you know, employees are being terrorized, residents are being terrorized. Something has to happen. And so I don't know what. I just said, we probably--I was thinking about a war, one of these war movies, taking a hill in Korea, you know. And I said, what they do, the soldiers do is, when they wanna take a hill, they have to come with overwhelming force. And they have to surround whoever is on that hill, and once they take the hill, they have to control the hill. They just can't walk away from it. And so we, I worked out with Leroy Martin that we would have surprise, what we called "sweeps" of selected high rises, and that first one was at Rockwell [Gardens]. And we would plan a major offensive with not only police and our, what we--all we had at that time was rent-a-cops, you know, security guards. And we would, unannounced, and I wouldn't tell Leroy Martin where we were going because I knew that if I told him, that some of the Chicago police hierarchy would pass on the information and we wouldn't have the effect that we needed.

Kirk Anthony Sykes

Real estate developer Kirk A. Sykes was the lead partner in the development and operation of the first African American-built hotel in Boston, Massachusetts. The 175-room, ten-story Hampton Inn & Suites, one of a small number of minority-owned hotels which operate under a major franchise name, sits on the edge of Roxbury, a predominantly black neighborhood. Throughout his career, Sykes has used his unique blend of talents to help improve urban communities.

Born in Queens, New York in 1958 and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, Sykes graduated from the Moses Brown School, a private Quaker secondary institution. He then studied architecture at Cornell University, graduating with a B.A. degree. He would later attend both the MIT Center for Real Estate Development Executive Program and the Owner and Presidents Management Executive Program at Harvard University Business School.

Sykes first gained notoriety with Winthrop Estates, a townhouse complex he developed for the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative in Boston. Held up as an example of forward-looking urban development, the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative was featured on a PBS documentary. Since then, Sykes has worked on a number of important development projects in the Boston area, including the redevelopment of the Boston Specialty Rehabilitation Hospital site and the Southwest Corridor retail project. In 2004, Sykes served as architect for the Democratic National Convention in Boston, converting the sports and concert-focused Fleet Center into an appropriate venue for the event.

Sykes is president of the New Boston Urban Strategy America Fund, a group which invests projects aimed at improving urban communities.

He and his wife Karen (née James) have two children.

Accession Number

A2005.078

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/24/2005

Last Name

Sykes

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Anthony

Organizations
Schools

Summit Avenue School

Henry Barnard Laboratory School

Moses Brown School

Leysin American School

Cornell University

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Harvard Business School

First Name

Kirk

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

SYK02

Favorite Season

Winter

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Mountains

Favorite Quote

It's All Good.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

4/29/1958

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Boston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Indian Food

Short Description

Real estate developer Kirk Anthony Sykes (1958 - ) was the lead partner in the development and operation of the first African American-built hotel in Boston, Massachusetts, a 175-room, ten-story Hampton Inn & Suites.

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:2066,92:14868,343:37230,696:39105,736:39480,742:40455,762:46460,791:51042,894:55387,1008:55782,1014:60838,1105:85512,1471:100400,1664:101920,1687:102320,1699:113586,1865:120714,1994:127573,2047:131734,2137:141786,2299:143858,2348:144376,2356:150074,2460:154662,2544:155772,2567:182835,2998:189882,3158:205914,3376:232786,3924:233224,3931:235487,3972:237093,4006:243507,4063:249855,4204:255858,4336:256479,4346:262600,4410$0,0:27374,528:27729,534:36391,716:53813,1015:54275,1022:73010,1366:77285,1473:80210,1542:85835,1664:91898,1700:100060,1857:132445,2380:137460,2488:159021,2853:161485,2904:161870,2910:162563,2934:176661,3155:177354,3165:184284,3328:187595,3397:193618,3465:200554,3645:204906,3748:221406,3949:221882,4095:224942,4159:225282,4165:241875,4453:245925,4529:259414,4722:277136,5005:280328,5073:283292,5123:289980,5271:298947,5376:304020,5455
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Kirk Anthony Sykes' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Kirk Anthony Sykes lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Kirk Anthony Sykes describes his current occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Kirk Anthony Sykes talks about his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Kirk Anthony Sykes talks about his paternal grandfather, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Kirk Anthony Sykes talks about his paternal grandfather, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Kirk Anthony Sykes shares his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Kirk Anthony Sykes talks about his family gatherings and vacations

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Kirk Anthony Sykes describes the schools he attended in Providence, Rhode Island

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Kirk Anthony Sykes describes his experience at the Moses Brown School in Providence, Rhode Island

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Kirk Anthony Sykes recalls deciding to become an architect

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Kirk Anthony Sykes remembers the jobs he had during high school in Providence, Rhode Island

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Kirk Anthony Sykes describes his experience studying at the Leysin American School in Leysin, Switzerland in 1974 and 1975

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Kirk Anthony Sykes describes his experience as a skiing instructor in Jackson, New Hampshire after graduating from Moses Brown School in 1976

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Kirk Anthony Sykes recalls enrolling at the Cornell University School of Architecture in Ithaca, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Kirk Anthony Sykes recalls joining the architecture firm of Stull and Lee Associates, Inc. in Boston, Massachusetts in 1981

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Kirk Anthony Sykes shares his impressions of Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Kirk Anthony Sykes talks about meeting his wife, Karen James Sykes, and starting their family

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Kirk Anthony Sykes talks about some of the important projects he worked on at Stull and Lee Associates, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Kirk Anthony Sykes describes his design career after leaving Stull and Lee Associates, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Kirk Anthony Sykes talks about building his design and development firms, Primary Group and Primary Corporation

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Kirk Anthony Sykes talks about designing the Central Artery Project in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Kirk Anthony Sykes describes the launch of Primary Corporation in 1996 and his work with the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI)

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Kirk Anthony Sykes describes his experience in the Owner/President Management program at Harvard Business School in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Kirk Anthony Sykes shares the lessons he learned from his family

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Kirk Anthony Sykes describes the genesis of his work with the New Boston Fund

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Kirk Anthony Sykes describes the development of Crosstown Center in Boston, Massachusetts, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Kirk Anthony Sykes describes the development of Crosstown Center in Boston, Massachusetts, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Kirk Anthony Sykes talks about financing the Hampton Inn and Suites Boston Crosstown Center in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Kirk Anthony Sykes describes becoming President of the New Boston Urban Strategy America Fund

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Kirk Anthony Sykes talks about the development of Boston State Hospital

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Kirk Anthony Sykes talks about developing the South Bay Harbor Trail in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Kirk Anthony Sykes talks about the master plan to redevelop the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Kirk Anthony Sykes reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Kirk Anthony Sykes reflects upon African Americans who influenced him

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Kirk Anthony Sykes reflects upon his life and career choices

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Kirk Anthony Sykes describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Kirk Anthony Sykes shares his message for today's youth

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Kirk Anthony Sykes describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Kirk Anthony Sykes reflects on his life as a skiier

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Kirk Anthony Sykes narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$3

DAStory

6$8

DATitle
Kirk Anthony Sykes talks about his paternal grandfather, pt. 2
Kirk Anthony Sykes describes the development of Crosstown Center in Boston, Massachusetts, pt. 1
Transcript
What are some of the stories that he [Sykes' grandfather, Frank Jahoy "Doc" Sykes] told you about his early years as a child? Did he share with you--?$$That's interesting. You know, he didn't s---again, didn't spend a lot of time sharing much about his history.$$Um-hum.$$It was more stories I'd get from my father [Lawrence Sykes] about my grandfather--$$Um-hum, um-hum.$$And, then upon his celebration at Howard University [D.C.] on his 90th birthday, it was a fair amount of digging done and he never touted his own, never tooted his own horn, never touted his own successes.$$Um-hum.$$I think he was very proud of his shooting clubs and, you know, the professionalism which he did his, his craft as a dentist.$$Um-hum.$$He didn't share that much about his baseball period in the Negro Leagues, although I've had a chance to read more--$$Um-hum.$$--recently.$$Kind of tell us a little bit about his time with the Negro Leagues; the teams that he played for and what decade is this--$$Yeah. You know, I think that if you read the articles about him playing with, as I said, Homestead Grays, with the Monarchs, with the Brooklyn Royal Giants. It was funny. To tell a story, one day I was in a, in a woman's shopping area, clothing store in, in New Rochelle [New York] with my wife. And, she had got into a conversation with the store owner, who was white. And, had mentioned that my father--grandfather was Doc Sykes. And, the man was besides himself, because it turns out he was a phenomenal fan of documenting the Negro Leagues and went on to run out the store and track me down and begin to tell me about pitching the perfect game. Because, one of the histories that I never heard until later on was that he had actually pitched a no hitter. And, and I'm not the best baseball aficionado, but I know enough to that that was quite a feat.$$Um-hum.$$And this was something the stop--store-- shop owner raved about Doc Sykes and the perfect game. And so, that is one of the memories that I do have.$$Um-hum. What do you know about his work as a Pullman porter? Did you get any information on that?$$More recently, I've been reading "Rising from the Rails," and, you know, I was thrilled to come across an interview on National Public Radio of the writer [Larry Tye] of "Rising from the Rails," who happened to be white to my surprise, talking about how the Pullman porter's profession gave rise to the black middle class and how these folks moved around the country, both experiencing and taking stories with them as they moved to different parts. But, also experiencing freedoms that were not afforded to most folks; especially, most folks growing up in Decatur, Alabama. Now, he had a little money in his pocket.$$Uh-huh.$$He had the bravado of being the Negro League player. I'm sure he had quite the life that he never told us about.$$Um-hum. His Pullman porter years, was this before he went to Howard or while he was at Howard? Or, when he left, when was--$$While he was at Howard, he actually worked his way through as a Pullman porter. So, this would have been in the mid '20s [1920s].$$Um-hum.$$And, he had an interesting sort of history of having completed that experience as a Pullman porter and going back to Decatur [Alabama] to set up shop as a dentist after he finished at Howard University. I think it was only the Scottsboro Trial and his being run out of the south by a Klan [Ku Klux Klan] with a cross burned on his lawn.$$Um-hum.$$That sent him packing back up to Baltimore [Maryland], where he actually set up his final stay.$$His stay.$$So, he stayed briefly in Baltimore. He came back to tend to matters in Decatur and then ended up getting into more matters than he planned, which sent him back up to Baltimore, ultimately where he stayed--$$Um-hum.$$--Until he passed.$$Now, his Negro Baseball League experience, was that while he was a student at Howard--$$Well, he played for Howard University. And then it's unclear to me where the, where the distinctions were made.$$Um-hum.$$And, unlike now, where people leave school to go pro. I think there were some abilities to sort of blur the distinction. So, I think that some of that evolved while he was at Howard and later on. I don't recall that he was ever solely a player in the Negro League. It always seemed as though he was doing something else, whether it was dentistry or the Pullman porter activities.$Maybe we should back up then and talk about the Crosstown Center [Hampton Inn and Suites Boston Crosstown Center in Boston, Massachusetts] and what you've done here?$$Right.$$Why don't you tell us about getting that started and your partners, partners that you worked with on that?$$Well, this is, this will always be one of the most important events of my life. Not only was it sort of the culmination of my transition of many years from designer, architect, to developer, and then eventually to financier. But, it, it was a great experience in that we set out to do something that nobody had done before. We looked for a site that could make a big change in the community but that had all of the features to be successful. And, for years people have started had projects in Boston but they just haven't gotten done, you know. Boston State Hospital [Mattapan, Massachusetts] is a great example. We're get--we're now getting that one done through our fund. But, we set out to do Crosstown Center by going to thirty different community groups and finding out what was important to them. And, all the community groups that have butted the site. And, we found it was very simple, you know. Unlike the sense that politics is a full contact sport that you have to guess at. You simply need to go out and ask. And, so we went out and asked. We found that the jobs were important to the surrounding community. Traffic was important to the surrounding community, and transportation. Getting from point A to point B was important. So, that gave us a basis to build what was called the "love fest" by the [Boston] Globe for a direct designation of some land that was a failed digital equipment corporation, which is what this site now sits on. It'd six acre of parcel of land on--$$Six acres?$$Six acres, on Massachusetts Avenue. Once, a lead paint factory and a couple of gas stations. Later, under some site assembly that was done under the Urban Renewal process in the '60s [1960s], it became the Digital Equipment Corporation assembly plant for computers. When Digital Equipment Corporation went out of business, the site was abandoned.$$I remember all of that.$$You remember this.$$I remember all of it.$$And, it, it sort of languished. It became an incubator biotech place. And it became a computer assembly place for a small group. But, it never generated the jobs. It never created the change that was originally intended by the Urban Renewal process. And, what we were able to do was to get the designation of the land to build a mixed use $150 million hotel, retail, garage, office event on this site. And, people embraced it and supported us like nothing before. And, that's one of the things, one of those most proud moments of my life is to be able to build the consensus to lead people in the vision and then to have them support it and to have faith. Even when it wasn't going great. And, there were lots of times when this went up and down. It started, we couldn't find money. We had tenants that came and went. But, in the end the Mayor of Boston [Thomas M. Menino] stuck with us. The community stuck with us. Our financing sources stuck with us, and we won't get into all the machinations, but--(simultaneous)$$When you say the community, what factions, and dimensions of the community supported you, and did you work with specifically?$$Well, beyond the thirty different community groups that we helped bring into a group called the Crosstown Council and our rule was, if you would meet with us and you would talk with us and share your ideas, we would put you on a council that would advise us. And, that group became very important because--(simultaneous)$$These are neighborhood people?$$Neighborhood people. People from the South End, people from Lower Roxbury, people from New Market; people from Roxbury, and business associations. And, so I don't know if this ever happened before in Boston, but it's not typical that you take forty communities to try to put 'em all together. You typically try to conquer each community on your--in its own rights, and then get what you want. And, that doesn't seem the right thing to do on a community based project. The other piece was, we worked with Boston Connects, Incorporated which is the empowerment zone for the City of Boston. And, the empowerment zone, every city has an empowerment zone, or many major cities have empowerment zones. There meant to stimulate growth and economic development. And, Boston Connects which is a half appointed, half community elected board, voted to put both capital and to work with us to make this project happen. And, what was expected for that was we would reach out and try to have people from the community work in the project. In fact, it was required. There should be a thirty-five percent requirement of empowerment zone residence. People in the ZIP codes of Dorchester, Roxbury, South End, even, Chinatown. We managed to get to sixty-seven percent, and we worked very hard at that. We have, six--97 percent people of color working in the hotel. We have senior management, including general manager, who is black. And, these are things that were unheard of before in Boston. But, we took this as a challenge to sort of raise the bar of showing Boston that we could build a gateway to Roxbury in this location. But, that we could do also, employ the community in that gateway. It wasn't just a vestige.