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CHA approves loans for housing/library branch projects

The Chicago Housing Authority Board of Commissioners says it has approved loans for two developments that will expand affordable housing opportunities in North Side communities that include co-located Chicago Public Library (CPL) branches in Irving Park and West Ridge and investment in developments that will expand housing opportunities in neighborhoods across Chicago.

The board approved loans of as much as $11 million apiece for the Northtown Apartments, 6800-6824 N. Western Ave., and the Independence Apartments, 4022-4036 N. Elston Ave. A total of 44 units, with 30 public housing and 14 affordable units, will be created at each site.

john ronan elston
Rendering of the CHA/CPL project at at 4022-4036 N. Elston from John Ronan Architects

The Independence apartments and branch library is being designed by John Ronan Architects and the Northtown Branch apartments and branch library is being designed by Perkins +Will. Both projects are being developed by Evergreen Real Estate Group.

“CHA’s mission is to leverage affordable housing to help communities thrive, and this unprecedented partnership with CPL will bring two valuable resources into communities simultaneously,” CHA CEO Eugene Jones, Jr., said in a statement. “Today’s board actions demonstrate CHA’s commitment to ensuring that every there is housing opportunity in every Chicago neighborhood.”

The CHA/CPL developments are designed to revitalize vacant property by combining affordable housing with a community amenity. The residential portion of each project will create mixed-income housing options, while the branch library portions will offer reading resources and programs for area children, families and building residents.

The architect for each project was the winner of a design contest co-hosted by the City’s Department of Planning and Development, the Chicago Public Library and the Chicago Housing Authority last winter. Each winner was paired with a developer that will work with community stakeholders to create a design that meets each community’s needs.

The board approval for the loans comes two weeks after Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that the three co-located housing and branch library projects will be presented for City Council and Chicago Plan Commission review and approval this summer. The third project is the Roosevelt Branch Library and apartments at 1340 W. Taylor, part of the ongoing redevelopment at Roosevelt Square.

Separately, The CHA board approved $12.5 million for the construction of the John Pennycuff Memorial Apartments in the Logan Square community in a North Side Opportunity Area, at the intersection of North Milwaukee and North Campbell avenues. The seven-story building will provide 88 new housing units, including 47 CHA units and 41 affordable units. The property will include a community room, an outdoor picnic area, a furnished lobby, common laundry areas and mail room. There will also be 2,500 sq. ft. of commercial space on the first floor.

The board also approved a number of other housing investments that will provide Property Rental Assistance (PRA) to create and preserve 103 units of affordable housing for some of the city’s most vulnerable residents. PRA projects carry long-term property rental assistance contract terms. The CHA investment of rental assistance will provide support for the following:

  • St. Andrew’s Court in the Near West Side community will preserve supportive housing for those participating in re-entry services in order to continue positive re-integration into society.
  • Garden View Apartments and Phoenix House in the North Lawndale community will preserve supportive housing for those living with HIV/AIDS.
  • Illinois Accessible Housing Initiative – Irving Park will assist households with disabilities in the Lakeview community.
  • Lincoln Property Community Shelter will bring a new construction, permanent supportive housing development with wraparound services for homeless in the Near North Side community.

The Board of Commissioners also approved letters of support for three projects through the PRA program that will create up to 124 units of affordable housing in three Chicago communities.

  • 5150 Northwest Apartments, a proposed new construction development located in an Opportunity and General area in Chicago’s Jefferson Park community.
    Warren Apartments, a proposed new construction building in the Near West Side community.
  • Roosevelt Road Veteran’s Housing, a proposed new construction building in the North Lawndale community that would provide studio apartments for veterans.
  • The board also approved the use of non-federal CHA funds to support improvements and the renovation to CPL’s Chicago Bee Branch Library, 3647 S. State St.
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