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Chicago’s largest LGBTQ friendly affordable housing gets the green light

John Pennycuff Memorial Apartments at Robert Castillo Plaza, the city’s second and largest LGBTQ friendly affordable housing, is ready to break ground in Logan Square after the Department of Buildings okayed the project’s building permit on Nov. 2.

Named after LGBTQ activists who advocated gender equality a,s well as affordable housing, the seven-story building will include 88 apartment units, 18 parking spaces and ground floor retail space. It follows the same concept as Lakeview’s Town Hall Apartments and is slated for completion in 2019.

Non-profit Metropolitan Housing Development Corp. is the project developer while CSA Partners is the designer. Funding comes from the Chicago City Council which voted to support the project with $16 million from Multi-Family Housing Revenue Bonds and an additional $564,000 from Low Income Housing Tax Credits that will generate an equity of $5.7 million.

The project seeks to bridge the economic disparity between the LGBTQ and heterosexual communities. “It’s shown time and time again that affordable housing mixed with modes of public transportation are key indicators of how to breach that disparity because mobility brings about economic gain,” explained CSA Partners principal Cyrus Sabwalla.

Moreover, Castillo pointed out that he wanted the project to provide more than just affordable housing. It should also bring resources that would benefit the community. “I’d like to see LGBTQ organizations have their job fair. I’d like to see a volunteer fair. I’d like to see a health clinic,” he said in an interview with Daniel Tomei for a documentary video featuring the development.

Pennycuff and Castillo, who both served on the Chicago Advisory Council on LGBT Issues, are Logan Square natives. They were the first couple to register for the Cook County Domestic Partnership Registry in 2003 and were married in 2004.

The couple became famous after flying a rainbow flag outside their apartment near St. Louis and Wrightwood despite violent threats from LGBTQ dissenters. Pennycuff died in 2012 and was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame.

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